How To Write a Person-Centered Goal (+ Goal Attainment Scaling!)

How To Write a Person-Centered Goal (+ Goal Attainment Scaling!)

This year I have been on a journey to improve the person-centered care I offer in speech therapy. It’s been a popular buzz word in health care, but how does “person-centered care” actually translate into our day-to-day practice as SLPs? Today I am sharing the simple steps you can take to move towards writing person-centered goals.

Why use Person-Centered Goals? Simply put, the goals that we write shape the therapy we provide.  So, if you want to provide person-centered therapy, writing person-centered goals is a good place to start.

hinckley quote

How to Create Person-Centered Goals

Step 1: Person/Family interview to determine goals, priorities, and values that determine what needs you can help meet

Step 2: Repeat back/clarify the goal is that is being expressed.

Step 3: Break down the patient’s goal to relate to speech therapy if needed.

Step 4: Use the Person/Family to determine what “success” looks like. I absolutely LOVE using Goal Attainment Scaling for this step, because what “success” looks like can vary by each person.

Goal Attainment Scaling

Goal Attainment Scaling: This is a 5-point scale that is created by the Person/SLP to collaboratively determine goals and what success looks like. I created a 9-page packet of info so that you can start using Goal Attainment Scaling to create person-centered goals TOMORROW!

Example of Template with Goal Attainment Scaling completed
Example of Template with Goal Attainment Scaling completed

The Goal Attainment Scaling Packet includes:

*What is Goal Attainment Scaling?

*Why should I use Goal Attainment Scaling? (Hint, read blog post above) 🙂

*Key References re: Goal Attainment Scaling in Speech Pathology

*4 Steps with specific questions to ask to facilitate discussion and write a person-centered goal

*Reprintable / reusable template for Goal Attainment Scaling (use it again and again!)

*6 different examples of Goal Attainment Scaling for a variety of functional skills for cognition and communication


It is KEY that the Person/Family input is used to set not only the goal, but also the measure of improvement/success. As an example, I had a patient who wanted to get back to baking bread but had been unsuccessful due to attention/memory challenges after an anoxic event. We used Goal Attainment Scaling to determine a timeline for his personal goals and what success would look like. This was a learning experience for me, because without the Person’s input I would have wanted him to bake a loaf of bread every week, independently. BUT, in the Goal Attainment Process, I discovered that he viewed success as being able to bake 1 loaf of bread a month with his wife as a support. Goal Attainment Scaling allowed our sessions to be truly person-centered in terms of setting a goal and defining success.


If you haven’t been using Goal Attainment Scaling, here’s your chance to start tomorrow!


Reference from quote: Hinckley, J, & Yones, D. (2014). Tools and techniques for patient-centered care for aphasia: Case examples [PowerPoint slides.] Retrieved from


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