Planning and Setting Goals

A mutual agreement between the client and the dietitian on a plan with identified goals is an essential part of every counselling session. Clear and achievable goals that allow for a review of the client’s progress (Monitoring and Feedback) at a next appointment can lead to effective behaviour change. SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely) goals have been shown to have a positive effect on client behaviour.

Goals can focus on behaviour that needs to be changed (e.g. a daily walk or eating fruit every day) or outcome (e.g. # kg of weight loss in # weeks). Outcome goals do not guide clients on how to achieve their goals. Behavioural goals identify the specific behaviours that have been agreed upon to support clients in achieving their wider outcome goals. 
 
A goal can be supported by planning the performance of a particular physical activity (e.g. running, swimming, etc.) at a particular time (e.g. before/after work) on certain days of the week.
It is important to set achievable goals. Small, incremental lifestyle changes, which one can actually achieve without too much effort, have a rewarding effect and are more likely leading to sustained behaviour change.

Video Examples


See how the dietitian leaves it up to Eric to decide which areas he would like to work on, while stimulating him to make the goals more realistic than the previous time.



Note how the dietitian stirs Alice towards setting a SMART goal.




Watch how the dietitian explains to Queenie what a SMART goal is. She also makes use of worksheet and supports Queenie in the thinking process of setting goals.



Look how the dietitian explains what a SMART goal is and how she gives an example to support Brian setting goals.