9 SMART Goals Examples for Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy is a healthcare profession that helps the sick or injured regain the skills necessary to perform everyday tasks. It is also used to help those with developmental disabilities or mental health problems.

Occupational therapists work directly with patients to assess their needs and develop treatment plans. They aim to ensure patients or clients regain as much independence as possible.

Naturally, that is easier said than done. There are plenty of obstacles that stop patients from recovering smoothly. The lack of a goal-setting process is often one overwhelming roadblock.

This post will cover several SMART goals examples for occupational therapy that will help patients reach their best outcomes. But let’s go over what SMART goals are first.

What is a SMART Goal?

In order to develop SMART goals for occupational therapy, it’s essential first to understand a SMART goal.

SMART is a goal-setting framework used to make your goals more effective. It’s an acronym that stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. All 5 criteria are required to boost your chances of succeeding.

For greater clarity, let’s dive into what each SMART component means:


One common goal-setting mistake is setting vague goals. A goal is not simply a vague aspiration—it should be specific, defining what you want to achieve, how you will do it, why it’s essential, and when you plan to complete the task.

Your goal statement should provide enough detail to act as a roadmap for achieving your ultimate results in life.


Having milestones will help you track progress more efficiently in meeting your goals. By defining a metric, such as time or amounts, you better understand how close you are to your objectives. And you will be inspired to reach the end of the journey.


A goal must be achievable to be a successful goal-setter. If you create a goal that is impossible to accomplish, you’re setting yourself up for failure. But if you set a goal within reach, you’re more likely to be motivated to reach it.


Your goals should be an outcome you actually hope to achieve. It’s not enough to develop an attainable and specific goal; it also needs to be something you care about.

For example, a goal to lose weight may be relevant to someone who is overweight and strives to improve their overall health. But it wouldn’t be appropriate for someone already at a healthy weight.


Make sure your goal has a deadline to create a sense of urgency. Without a deadline, it’s easy to procrastinate and put off pursuing your goal. But giving yourself a specific deadline will allow you to stay accountable and on track.

Why Are SMART Goals Important for Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy is undoubtedly a trying time for both patient and therapist. Relearning how to do basic tasks can be daunting, but luckily that’s where SMART goals come into play.

SMART goals are essential for occupational therapy for various reasons. They help ensure that clients or patients participate in treatment and see progress.

Furthermore, developing goals will keep patients motivated and make their challenging goals appear more manageable. Every time an important goal is achieved, they also lessen the fear of failure and give new motivation.

Therapists should ensure each goal is specifically tailored to the patient’s unique needs. This allows occupational therapists to provide the most appropriate and effective services possible.

Overall, setting and achieving SMART goals is integral to occupational therapy. This process ensures that goals are achievable and relevant while providing the individual with satisfaction and empowerment.

9 SMART Goals Examples for Occupational Therapy

Here you will discover 9 SMART goals examples for occupational therapy:

1. Dress Independently

SMART Goal: By the end of two weeks, the patient should be able to dress independently without assistance. To reach this goal, the patient will be trained daily to change their clothes, supervised by the caregiver or therapist.

  • Specific: The goal statement is clear because it defines how to complete the goal, the time frame, and the overall objective.
  • Measurable: The therapist or caregiver will observe the patient every day to ensure they take strides toward dressing independently.
  • Attainable: This is achievable with the help of a professional occupational therapist with years of experience.
  • Relevant: Dressing independently is relevant to the patient’s aim of changing clothes without needing help.
  • Time-based: There is a two-week timeline for accomplishing this goal.

2. Improve Balance Issues

SMART Goal: Reduce the number of falls each week for a patient with balance issues. The patient should go from 15 to 5 falls every week in the next three months. This will be attained by completing walking training daily.

  • Specific: This statement aims to fix the patient’s balance issue through walking training every day.
  • Measurable: The number of falls each week is the metric.
  • Attainable: Three weeks is enough time to allow the patient to improve their balance issues. Plus, they only need to improve it, which makes this a reasonable goal.
  • Relevant: Achieving this goal will allow the patient to live their daily life without balance problems.
  • Time-based: You should expect to finish this goal by the end of three months.

3. Increase Fine Motor Skills

SMART Goal: Over the course of two months, the patient must increase their fine motor skills by learning to tie their shoes without assistance. The patient should tie their shoe correctly every day. Progress will be measured by the number of successful attempts each week.

  • Specific: The SMART goal is explicit. It describes how patients will learn to accomplish their goals within the deadline.
  • Measurable: Every successful attempt at shoe-tying is a step closer to accomplishing the objective of increasing fine motor skills.
  • Attainable: This is realistic and achievable with time and directed effort.
  • Relevant: The goal is appropriate for the patient’s desire to improve fine motor skills.
  • Time-based: Goal completion is expected by the end of two months.

4. Cook Meals Independently

SMART Goal: The patient will strive to independently cook three simple meals per week within the next month. To accomplish this, the patient will learn to follow a recipe from start to finish and identify the necessary kitchen utensils and appliances required to cook a meal.

cook meals
  • Specific: The patient has precise actions available—following a recipe and identifying kitchen utensils and appliances.
  • Measurable: Make sure the patient can cook at least three meals each week.
  • Attainable: Assuming that the patient practices daily, this is a reasonable goal.
  • Relevant: This goal relates to the patient’s primary objective of cooking meals alone.
  • Time-based: The patient should expect goal attainment within the next month.

5. Improve Range of Motions in the Shoulder

SMART Goal: For 5 months, the therapist will design various activities to strengthen the muscles and joints in the shoulder, like completing lateral raises, shoulder presses, etc. The patient will also perform stretching exercises daily.

  • Specific: The patient can improve their range of motion in the shoulder by performing specific activities and exercises daily.
  • Measurable: You could measure how long and the types of exercises the patient performs each day.
  • Attainable: It is definitely possible for patients to carry out activities alongside a supervising therapist or caregiver.
  • Relevant: Stretching and exercising your shoulder area will increase the range of motion.
  • Time-based: The individual should reach this goal by the end of 5 months.

6. Regain the Ability to Drive

SMART Goal: The therapist will develop a routine where the patient can regain their ability to drive. In the next four months, the patient will practice using the pedals and steering wheel for 30 minutes daily.

  • Specific: The goal is explicit in stating what the patient will be doing—practicing how to use the pedals and steering wheel.”
  • Measurable: The therapist should ensure the patient practices for at least 30 minutes daily.
  • Attainable: This goal is doable if the patient is willing to put in the effort.
  • Relevant: Driving independently allows patients to retain their ability to get around the city.
  • Time-based: Four months is required to meet this particular goal.

7. Write Name Legibly

SMART Goal: The therapist hopes to help the patient have the capability to write their name legibly within one month. To attain this goal, the patient will dedicate 15 minutes daily to write down their full name on a piece of paper.

  • Specific: This SMART goal explains how the individual will dedicate 15 minutes daily to writing their name on paper.
  • Measurable: Progress is tracked by the amount of time the patient spends writing their full name.
  • Attainable: Practice makes perfect. This is an achievable goal for any patient willing to invest time.
  • Relevant: This is pertinent to improving the patient’s legibility and writing skills.
  • Time-based: The patient should pursue this goal every day for one whole month.

8. Increase Social Interactions

social interactions

SMART Goal: Encourage the patient to socially interact with 10 people every day for the next two months. The therapist could assist the client in setting up weekly social meetings to talk to new people.

  • Specific: This details how many people the patient should interact with daily.
  • Measurable: Ensure the patient talks to at least 10 people per day.
  • Attainable: Setting up social meetings will make it easier for the client to interact with others.
  • Relevant: The goal relates to the patient’s objective of communicating more effectively.
  • Time-based: Goal completion will be expected after two months.

9. Walk Around the Block

SMART Goal: The patient will be able to walk independently around the block by the end of three months. To do so, the patient will complete 30 minutes of daily training to help them walk again, supervised by a caregiver or therapist.

  • Specific: The statement outlines the patient’s objective, how to reach the goal, and the deadline.
  • Measurable: Progress is measured by ensuring the patient sets aside at least 30 minutes of walking training every day.
  • Attainable: The provided timeline is enough for the patient to slowly learn and get the hang of walking without crutches or assistance.
  • Relevant: This goal is suitable because clients must regain their ability to walk independently.
  • Time-based: There is a three-month end date for meeting this specific goal.

Final Thoughts

Occupational therapists work with patients with conditions that limit their abilities to perform activities of daily living. To ensure that occupational therapy is successful, the therapist and patient should follow the SMART framework.

Using the SMART goals examples above, you are teaching your patient how to recover and prevent the loss of crucial life skills. Remember that a detailed plan is much needed for successful occupational therapy.

And consider offering your patients journaling as a medium to boost their mental health and well-being. It’ll be a fantastic addition to your current treatment plan.

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