Cognitive barriers

Cognitive difficulties affect the person’s thinking skills including (but not limited to) – attention, understanding, memory, problem solving, learning and processing information.

Cognitive-communication difficulties is a term used to describe problems with communication that have an underlying cause in a cognitive deficit rather than a primary language or speech deficit. Cognitive-communication difficulties can also impact upon a person’s ability to understand information, express their thoughts, read, write and manage numbers.

(For more information on cognitive-communication difficulties see:

Cognitive and cognitive-communication difficulties can have a significant impact upon the person’s ability to access and engage in the G-AP process.

Common cognitive difficulties include:

Distractibility/ Slowed processing:

The person might struggle to keep up with a rapidly flowing conversation particularly in noisy environments. They might become overwhelmed part way through the conversation and be unable to take in more information without taking a break.

Memory issues:

The person may have difficulty remembering the things they hear (conversations), the things they see (texts, written documents) or they might forget to complete an activity/ lose their place part way through. The person might therefore struggle to remember the goal setting conversation or what action plans were agreed. They might require prompts to get started on an action plan and to complete each step in the activity.

Difficulty understanding complex or abstract ideas:

The person might struggle to understand concepts that are not concrete or in the here and now. Goal setting conversations often involve abstract ideas such as “goals”, “barriers” and “confidence”. They can also require the person to switch between different time points e.g., before the health condition, current situation and the future.

Reduced insight and reasoning:

The person might not have full awareness of their current abilities or limitations. They might struggle to think flexibly about a problem or consider the steps required to reach a solution.

Difficulty generating new ideas:

It might be difficult for the person to identify goals they would like to work on or think about their interests and values without support. It may also be difficult for them to be creative about how they might solve problems or find new ways to do things.

Difficulty concentrating and staying on topic:

The person might find it difficult to stay on track during conversations and might become distracted by unrelated topics that lead them away from the views they wish to express.

Difficulty with planning and problem solving:

Being organised, making decisions, thinking ahead, anticipating problems and thinking of ways to overcome them may be challenging for the person and get in the way of them being able to set, pursue and (if necessary) adjust their goals.