Mental Health Treatment Plans: Templates, Goals & Objectives

Mental Health Treatment Plans: Making Progress One Step at a Time

Planning – some of us love it, some of us hate it, and some of us just don’t have any idea how to do it!

Part of effective mental health treatment is the development of a treatment plan. A good mental health professional will work collaboratively with the client to construct a treatment plan that has achievable goals that provide the best chances of treatment success.

Read on to learn more about mental health treatment plans, how they are constructed, and how they can help.

 

What is a Treatment Plan? A Definition

At the most basic level, a mental health treatment plan is simply a set of written instructions and records relating to the treatment of an ailment or illness. A treatment plan will include the patient or client’s personal information, the diagnosis (or diagnoses, as is often the case with mental illness), a general outline of the treatment prescribed, and space to measure outcomes as the client progresses through treatment.

A treatment plan does many things, the most important of which include:

  1. Defining the problem or ailment
  2. Describing the treatment prescribed by the health/mental health professional
  3. Setting a timeline for treatment progress (whether it’s a vague timeline or includes specific milestones)
  4. Identifying the major treatment goals
  5. Noting important milestones and objectives

 

This documentation of the most important components of treatment helps the therapist and client stay on the same page, provides an opportunity for discussion of the treatment as planned, and can act as a reminder and motivational tool.

A wide range of people can benefit from mental health treatment plans, including:

  • People living with a serious mental illness
  • People experiencing distress in one or more areas of life
  • Children, parents, and/or families
  • The elderly
  • Individuals
  • Couples
  • People with developmental disabilities
  • People experiencing sexual or gender identity issues
  • People being bullied and/or abused
  • Bullies and/or abusers
  • People in the criminal justice system
  • Employers and/or employees (Croft, 2015).

 

Mental Health Treatment Plans children

While people in similar circumstances with similar issues may have similar treatment plans, it’s important to understand that each treatment plan is unique. There are often many different ways to treat the same problem – sometimes there are dozens of different paths that treatment could take!

No two treatment plans will be exactly the same, because no two people’s experiences are exactly the same.

What, Exactly, is in a Treatment Plan?

While the basic components of a mental health treatment plan are listed above, there are many more possible additions to a treatment plan. As noted earlier, all treatment plans are different – they are unique products of the discussions between a therapist and client, the therapist’s clinical knowledge, and the client’s shared experience.

Even in identical diagnoses in similar individuals, differences are bound to manifest in any or all of the following components:

  • History and Demographics – client’s psychosocial history, history of the symptoms, any past treatment information
  • Assessment/Diagnosis – the therapist or clinician’s diagnosis of the client’s mental health issues, and any past diagnoses will also be noted
  • Presenting Concerns – the problems or symptoms that initially brought the client in
  • Treatment Contract – the contract between the therapist and client that summarizes the goals of treatment
  • Responsibility – a section on who is responsible for which components of treatment (client will be responsible for many, the therapist for others)
  • Strengths – the strengths and resources the client brings to treatment (can include family support, character strengths, material support, etc.)
  • Treatment Goals – the “building blocks” of the plan, which should be specific, realistic, customized for the client, and measurable
  • Objectives – goals are the larger, more broad outcomes the therapist and client are working for, while multiple objectives make up each goal; they are small, achievable steps that make up a goal
  • Modality, Frequency, and Targets –different modalities are often applied to different goals, requiring a plan that pairs modalities, a frequency of sessions, anticipated completion date, etc., with the respective goal
  • Interventions – the techniques, exercises, interventions, etc., that will be applied in order to work toward each goal
  • Progress/Outcomes – a good treatment plan must include space for tracking progress towards objectives and goals (Good Therapy, 2016)

 

The therapist and client will work together to get this information down on paper, with the therapist contributing his or her expertise in treatments and treatment outcomes, and the client contributing expertise in his or her own life and experiences.

Why Use a Treatment Plan?

Besides the obvious benefits that planning usually brings, there are a few specific advantages that mental health treatment plans impart to those who use them.

These benefits include:

  1. Treatment plans provide a guide to treatment for both the therapist and client.
  2. Treatment plans can reduce the risk of fraud, waste, abuse, and the potential to cause unintentional harm to clients.
  3. Treatment plans facilitate easy and effective billing since all services rendered are documented.
  4. Treatment plans can help smooth any potential bumps in treatment, especially if a client requires a kind of treatment the primary therapist cannot provide (e.g., a certain type of intervention or a prescription for medication) or must see a new therapist for some other reason (e.g., if the client or therapist has moved, or the therapist is on extended leave, Good Therapy, 2016).

why use a treatment plan

While treatment plans are quite popular in mental health treatment, it should be noted that not every therapist or clinician will use one. Treatment plans are not necessarily required to give or receive successful treatment, but they can be extremely helpful in facilitating a smooth and hassle-free treatment experience.

 

Goals and Objectives of a Treatment Plan

Goals and objectives will vary tremendously from one person to the next, especially those facing very different problems. If you or your client is committed to change but isn’t quite sure where to begin, this link of potential goals can spark a useful discussion about where to go from here.

Goals are the broadest category of achievement that clients in mental health counseling work towards. For instance, a common goal for those struggling with substance abuse may be to quit using their drug of choice or alcohol, while a patient struggling with depression may set a goal to reduce their suicidal thoughts.

In general, these goals should be realistic – they should be reasonable, given the client’s general experience and hopes for the future.

Objectives are basically goals broken into smaller pieces – many similar or subsequent objectives will make up a goal.

For example, an objective for an individual with extreme anxiety may be to take 10 steps outside their front door. The next objective may be to make it to the neighborhood market, or up to 30 steps outside their front door.

Meeting each objective will eventually lead you to meet the goal.

 

How to Create a Treatment Plan

There are many resources out there on how to create a mental health treatment plan – there’s even a WikiHow page on the subject!

This checklist is an especially good resource for treatment planning, due in part to how brief and to-the-point it is. The checklist breaks down treatment plans into five sections: Problem Statements, Goals, Objectives, Interventions, and General Checklist.

The checklist items are presented by section as follows:

Problem Statements

  • Do problem statements reflect the six problem domains?
    1 – Medical status
    2 – Employment and support
    3 – Drug/Alcohol use
    4 – Legal status
    5 – Family/Social status
    6 – Psychiatric status
  • Are problem statements written in behavioral terms?
  • Are problem statements written in a non-judgmental and jargon-free manner?
  • Are problem statements based on priority needs?

 

Goals/What does the client want to achieve during treatment?

  • Do goals address the problem statements?
  • Are the goals attainable during the active treatment phase?
  • Would the client be able to understand the goals as written?
  • Would both the client and the treatment program find these goals acceptable?
  • Has the client’s stage of readiness to change been considered in the goal statements?

 

Objectives/What will the client say or do? Under what circumstances? How often will he/she say or do this?

  • Do objectives address the goals?
  • Are the goals SMART?
    o Specific – Are specific activities included? Could the client understand what is expected?
    o Measurable – Can change or progress toward meeting the objectives be documented/evaluated?
    o Attainable – Can the client take steps toward meeting the objectives?
    o Realistic – Can the client meet the objectives given their current situation?
    o Time-Limited/Timely – Is the time frame specified for the objectives?
  • Has the client’s stage of readiness to change been considered in the objectives?

 

Interventions/What will the counselor/staff do to assist the client? Under what circumstances?

  • Do interventions address the objectives?
  • Are the interventions SMART?
    o Specific – Are specific staff persons responsible for assisting client/providing service?
    o Measurable – Will the counselor/treatment program be held accountable for the services?
    o Attainable – Do interventions reflect the level of care available or are outside referrals used when needed?
    o Realistic – Do the interventions reflect the level of functioning or functional impairment of the client?
    o Time-Limited/Timely – Is the time frame specified for the interventions?
  • Has the client’s stage of readiness to change been considered in the interventions?

 

General Checklist

  • Is this treatment plan individualized to fit the client based on their unique abilities, goals, lifestyle, socio-economic status (SES), work history, educational background, and culture?
  • Are the client’s strengths incorporated into the treatment plan?
  • Has the client (and significant others) participated in developing this treatment plan?
  • Is the plan dated and signed by all who participated in developing this treatment plan?

 

treatment plan general checklist

Not every treatment plan will call for each of these items. This is fine since every treatment plan is as individual as the client treated, but it should be noted why the item does not apply.

When each item is “checked” off the list (or addressed in writing if it is not applicable), the treatment plan is likely a good one – or, at least, it has the basics of a good treatment plan!

If you’re interested in learning more about creating good treatment plans, this easy-to-read, three-page PDF includes some advice on setting good goals for a client-centered treatment plan.

If you work with children and would like some tips on preparing a good treatment plan for a young client, check out the Pennsylvania CASSP Training and Technical Assistance Institute’s publication on this subject here.

 

Examples of Mental Health Treatment Plans

There are several examples of mental health treatment plans to be found online, and several are linked below:

This sample treatment plan is for a young Medicaid recipient struggling with symptoms of depression and suicidal thoughts.

This treatment plan is written for the treatment of a man suffering from schizoaffective disorder who is experiencing side effects from his medication.

If you’d like to see more, this website has a ton of useful example treatment plans and templates.

 

A Treatment Plan Template

As noted earlier, one template will not cover all of the possibilities for a client’s treatment plan, but this template can at least provide a starting point.

Feel free to rearrange, remove, and add as needed, but make sure to properly cite the source if you use it for profit or publish it somewhere (source information is at the bottom of the template).

 

A Take-Home Message

In this article, we’ve discussed the purpose and general description of a mental health treatment plan.

We hope you have a better idea of how treatment plans work, why therapists use them, and how they can help individuals struggling with mental health problems.

Have you ever created a mental health treatment plan? Have you ever had a mental health treatment plan created for you? Let us know in the comments!

As always, thank you for reading!

  • Croft, H. (2015). What is a mental health treatment plan? Why is it important? Good Therapy. Retrieved from https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/mental-illness-overview/what-is-a-mental-health-treatment-plan-why-is-it-important/
  • Good Therapy. (2016). Treatment plan. Good Therapy. Retrieved from https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/treatment-plan
  • Good Therapy. (2016). Setting goals and developing treatment plans in therapy. Good Therapy. Retrieved from http://laloko.org/archives/3151/gp-mental-health-treatment-plan-sample-template/mental-health-care-plan-templates-17-free-word-pdf-documents-regarding-gp-mental-health-treatment-plan-sample-template/

About the Author

Courtney Ackerman is a graduate of the positive organizational psychology and evaluation program at Claremont Graduate University. She is currently working as a researcher for the State of California and her professional interests include survey research, well-being in the workplace, and compassion. When she’s not gleefully crafting survey reminders, she loves spending time with her dogs, visiting wine country, and curling up in front of the fireplace with a good book or video game.

Comments

  1. Shayla Cademis

    Thanks for the suggestion to set up a treatment plan in counseling that is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based. I’ve been struggling with severe anxiety and depression for the past year and haven’t been able to find a remedy that helps. Hopefully I can find a good counseling service in my area that can help me better my mental health and reach some goals.

    Reply
  2. Tatjana Vidavska-Rusnaka

    Thank you for very structured and useful information!

    Reply
  3. Ada Maduka

    Thanks Courtney, very helpful information.

    Reply
  4. Scott Morrison

    This is very helpful and through and just want we needed. Thank you.

    Reply
  5. Veronica Luck

    This information was just what I needed to complete my assignment. Thank you!

    Reply
  6. imbtlondon

    Very good blog! thank you to the author for it! In it interesting and useful information it is possible often times re-read it! I will advise to read it all friends. It will be very useful at writing of the blog. Very much thankful you.

    Reply
  7. Kristen

    I found this very clear and informative. Thank you very much!

    Reply
  8. James Walker

    I too, must say thank you crafting and sharing such wonderfully helpful information. It serves as a ready understandable tool for both clients, and those who may have only a limited understanding on treatment plan components.

    Reply
  9. Olga

    Thank you so much for sharing, greatly appreciated!!

    Reply
  10. Amanda Habib

    Your article is EXTREMELY helpful! Thank you so much for sharing!!

    Reply
  11. vathsala pilapitiya

    Thank you for information

    Reply
  12. Sophia Lara

    Thanks for sharing the best things to do for the patients who face mental problems. I have also a great solution for these kinds of patients. Just visit me once.

    Reply
  13. Jordan Curry

    I really liked how you included a different treatment plan for a variety of psychological struggles. I have some family members that are looking into plans that are struggling with depression. I will refer them to your page so they can benefit from this information as well especially when it comes to setting goals and objectives.

    Reply
  14. cyrus

    reliable info

    Reply
  15. Paulette

    Thank You, for sharing. I needed a simple guide and you created one for

    Reply
  16. parul singh

    Thank you for sharing valuable information. these plans getting to before treatment very helpful.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *