Goal Setting Framework

The ability to set goals that resonate with our intrinsic motivations, desires, and needs is a fundamental part of human behaviour. At Guardian Exercise Rehabilitation, our highly skilled allied health clinicians undertake comprehensive goal setting framework practices with every client they work with – and as a cornerstone of successful rehabilitation.

Guardian Exercise Rehabilitation has recently introduced a novel goal-setting practice that highlights the interactions between environmental and personal factors influencing recovery and is based on the most contemporary research available. Acknowledging Principle Four of the Clinical Framework for the Delivery of Health Services, our new practice continues to place high value on the importance of implementing goals focusing on optimising function and participation; however, we also place similarly high importance on Principle Five – basing practices on best available research evidence.

We feel that herein lies a paradox in the Clinical Framework in that the best available research evidence – as well as decades of experience, tells us quite clearly that the traditional SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timed) goals approach – which Principle Four suggests should be used routinely, isn’t always the best fit for all clients. This is perhaps most pertinent to those who have had a complex recovery, or those who have uncertainties about their recovery journey, limited motivation, and/or confusion about what meaningful goals they wish to strive towards relative to their vocational and avocational activities.

As a result, we have made some changes to how we internally deliver our goal setting framework practices. These changes, in line with evidence-based research, will assist our clients in experiencing a positive rehabilitation journey – ultimately striving for model provision of healthcare services, with empowerment towards self-management and optimised quality of life.

Why are Goal Setting Practices Important?

The practice of goal setting in a personal injury space helps all parties (Clients, Insurers, Vocational Rehabilitation Consultants and Health Practitioners) understand what we are trying to collaboratively achieve. It is imperative that any goal that is set is driven by the client themselves. The establishment of goals, if done well, can provide positive direction and motivation for any individual. Ultimately, successful goal setting will enable a sense of purpose and achievement, promote positive physical activity adherence, and influence positive behavioural change for long term healthy habit formation.

What can you expect to see?

Clients – Our experienced clinicians will often discuss your goals at the beginning of your rehabilitation program and throughout your time together, ensuring they are meaningful and functional for both your personal and working life. It is important to have a think about some things you may like to achieve within your recovery. However, if you feel uncertain about what is achievable or what you want to work towards, we will sit down and start at day one. You may also be provided with a goal-setting sheet that you can write on and visualise your rehabilitation plan.

Stakeholders – It is likely that you will see some changes in our reporting around goal setting with either traditional SMART goal setting and/or an alternative STEPPED goal setting being displayed. In some circumstances when a client is having difficulty determining what goals they may want to achieve, or as determined by the ‘Transtheoretical Stage of Behaviour Change’ are presenting in a Pre-Contemplation, Contemplation, or Relapse stage; our clinicians may adopt a STEPPED approach to goal setting. Our clinicians will be able to collaboratively discuss and justify why they have utilised either SMART or STEPPED goals dependent on the client; identifying their motivations and intentions towards meaningful change, and what recovery means for them. Adopting this approach will allow a collaborative, and enjoyable experience for our clients in order to positively progress towards sustainable outcomes and recovery.

Our main focus points

Our new goal setting framework allows collaborative development of open and meaningful goal setting in line with clients’ motivations and behaviours towards rehabilitation adherence.

We enable end-stage client-centered goal achievement with positive and sustainable rehabilitation engagement, and ultimately a durable recovery and return to work.

Setting our clients up for success = realistic goal setting practices, and influencing positive behavioural change through optimal enjoyment, value, and lasting habit formation.

What does the evidence say?

  • “Theory and research suggest that setting specific, challenging goals (ie, current best practice) may be problematic for inactive populations, prompting the questions: ‘Are we setting the right goals for Physical Activity (PA) promotion?’ And ‘Do we need to rethink our approach to goal setting in order to maximise engagement in PA?’”. (Swann & Rosenbaum, 2017).
  • “It is important for researchers, practitioners and policy makers to rethink and move beyond commonly held assumptions in goal setting and to adopt a critical perspective regarding the type of goals that should be set to maximise engagement in PA” (Swann & Rosenbaum, 2017).
  • “Findings provide initial evidence that PA and psychological responses differ between active and insufficiently active individuals depending on goal type. This work has potential implications for goal setting strategies in PA promotion and raises further questions about current practices of setting SMART goals for insufficiently active participants”. (Hawkins, Crust, Swann & Jackman, 2020).
  • “There is a need to question commonly held assumptions for ‘best practice’ in goal-setting for PA promotion, especially for those who are most in need of intervention.” (Beauchamp, Crawford, & Jackson, 2019).
  • “Current goal-setting practice could be harmful to psychological factors relating to long-term participation and adherence, which, in turn, could reduce the likelihood of individuals achieving the health benefits of exercise and PA.” (Swann & Rosenbaum, 2019).
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