2 Mar by HPA/LiveWell Clinical Psychology

SMART Goals and Mental Health

Smart goals are a useful method of treatment in mental health difficulties and they are often used in the toolbox of Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The acronym SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Realistic, and Time-bound. SMART goals are an effective method of identifying the areas where people want to effect change, however, it is good to be mindful that whereas some SMART goals are easily measured, for someone with a mental health difficulty such as depression or anxiety, these goals are less easily measured as they are less definable in terms of achievability, time, and realism. If you’re wondering how to make SMART goals for your needs, at HPA/LiveWell in Albany, NY, we can help you devise the best treatment for your needs.

SMART Goal Format

When considering how to make SMART goals which suit your needs, think about the changes that you wish to achieve in your life. SMART goals are designed to foster clarity regarding the steps to achieving specific goals and how to focus your attention and resources in order to establish them. They focus energy on what is important so that you can be successful in achieving results. The following SMART goal format is considered to be the most effective:

  • Specific – ask yourself what you want to accomplish. What concrete actions will you take? What are the desirable results?
  • Measurable – SMART goals should include measurable goals.  How can you measure change? How often will you measure the effects?
  • Action-Oriented – what actions can you take in order to achieve your goal? Are they reasonable and do you have the necessary resources?
  • Realistic – is this goal realistic for you to achieve?
  • Time-bound – do you have a time frame for achieving this goal? Is it a realistic time frame?

SMART Goal Examples

SMART goals and mental health guidelines can be useful when attempting to devise your personal goals. It may be helpful to break the goal down into its components; for example, if an individual wishes to become more social, or are attempting to adhere to medication, then they may use the following steps in order to achieve their goal:

Example #1Goal: to be more social.
SpecificI can talk to someone in my class.  I can talk to someone in my neighborhood.  I can sign up for a group activity.
MeasurableI can talk to someone in my class twice a week when it’s held.  I can attend a group class once a week.
Action-OrientedI can make note of the class in my diary to remind myself of my goal.
RealisticI have the time availability to attend a class and I can afford the expenses involved in travelling to and paying for the class.
Time-OrientedI will attend the class for the duration of the course over the next two months.
Example #2Goal: I will adhere to my medication in order to feel better.
SpecificI can review my medications with my doctor and discuss what works and what doesn’t. We can also discuss the most appropriate times to take the medications.
MeasurableI will take my medications at the same time every day.
Action-OrientedI can put a medication reminder on my phone or put a schedule somewhere in my home that I’m likely to see it every day, such as on my fridge.
RealisticI can try this method for two weeks to see if it works. If not, I can be recursive and alter the goal.
Time-OrientedI will take my medication every day at the same time each day for two weeks to determine the efficacy of the goal.

A SMART goal that can be easily achieved and one that also effects positive change is to make alterations to diet and nutrition.  A healthy diet can help contribute to better overall mental health.

For further advice on treatment plans, as well as how to devise effective SMART goals, or to learn about the mental health services provided at HPA/LiveWell in Albany, NY, contact us at 518-218-1188.