Acceptance and Commitment Training, Values, Choice, Fulfillment, and Co-Active Coaching 

{Collis & Winters, 2018. Applications of Acceptance and Commitment Training in Positive Psychology. In Green & Palmer. PPC in Practice.}

Like other positive psychology (PP) approaches to coaching, Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT) focuses on helping clients to select and pursue autonomous and valued goals and to develop richer and more meaningful lives.

How does ACT promote this?: by building “psychological flexibility,” which involves “contacting the present moment fully as a conscious human being, and based on what the situation affords, changing or persisting in behavior in the service of chosen values.”

Psychological flexibility is a learnable skill consisting of six interdependent processes: choosing values, taking committed action, defusing from unhelpful thoughts,  accepting painful feelings as they arise, becoming more present and aware in each moment, and flexibly taking perspective.

An ACT coach assesses and intervenes to help clients build these six skills. As a result, the client becomes increasingly psychologically flexible and “more versatile and adept at committing finite attention and energy to meaningful interests and values.”

The coaching outcome for the client entails developing and maintaining flexible and productive behavior patterns.

The ACT model of human behavior change consists of six interdependent processes. ACT interventions to target the processes include experiential exercises, metaphors, and psychoeducation.

Preparing the client for ACT coaching

Openness and vulnerability of the client:

Clients must be willing to share uncomfortable thoughts and feelings, talk about their deepest desires about who they want to be in the world and what they want to stand for; open up to the vulnerability of exploring times when their actions are not aligned with their deeply held values; learn to accept and turn with kindness toward their parts that get in the way of their success.

As a coach, proceed carefully and repeatedly obtain informed consent before exploring sensitive topics and themes.

In addition to all the expected coaching behaviors, an ACT coach also reveals his own ACT processes; talks about the values he wants to live in the coaching engagement; raises the issue when he fails to respond to the client as skillfully as he wishes; talks about how he behaves when he gets fused or avoidant; aims to demonstrate the tendency to struggle with unwanted thoughts and feelings not as a problem to be vanquished but as part of our humanity and the need to learn to live with what it means to be human.

All self-disclosure is done only when it serves the client in that moment.

As a coach, encourage your client to go slowly and be gentle with herself when difficulty arises; you may warn her about possible discomfort; as your client becomes more aware of times when she is not living her values, she will feel uncomfortable; as she starts to notice her thoughts and open up to emotions, she may feel a little unsteady; as she tries out new behaviors, initially she might be and feel a little clumsy.

ACT coaching sessions are flexible, with the coach noticing which of the six processes seems relevant in each moment and responding accordingly. 

The coaching: First session

The client and coach start with an informed consent process.

How does coaching work? Explain to your client, “this approach to coaching has the key aim of helping you to take actions that align with your values.”

What does the coaching aim for? Explain to your client, “the coaching aims to broaden your behavioral flexibility in response to what is needed in a situation.”

Explain to your client, “when issues you want to work on in coaching show up in our coaching interactions, it is a good thing and then we can explore them in real-time.”

As a first step, support your client in choosing the values she wants to express.

What kind of leader does she want to be?

How does she want others to experience her?

For example, the client may want to be more supportive, courageous, authentic, and creative. Together, look at how these values show up in her 360 feedback; where is she living her values, where is she overdoing one particular value that causes problems, and where is she not expressing her values?

As the coach, informally assess your client on how she is doing on the six ACT processes during the conversation. For example, if your client is fused with some stories about herself and the world, you may hear, “I don’t have time for all that touchy-feely stuff. Work is for work. I don’t need to be friends with people at work.”

Notice any hunches, such as, even though the client values authenticity, she is uncomfortable with the vulnerable feelings involved in connecting with her colleagues in a meaningful way.

Over time, the coaching conversations support the client in gradually increasing her psychological flexibility and becoming more present and values-driven, building broader patterns of valued behavior that are more responsive to the environment. The client is encouraged to be more present in her interactions and notice when people want more from her than a simple discussion of the task. As a result, the client builds her capacity to notice her thoughts and feelings and be less controlled by them.

Here may be a sample conversation; the client brings up an issue but then abruptly moves to another issue signaling some experiential avoidance. As the coach, gently interrupt and invite to notice the change in topic; gently challenge, saying, “It seems like this might be an example of the type of situation you want to work on in coaching, is it okay to explore it a little more?”

After consent, ask questions to build flexible perspective-taking, acceptance, and present-moment awareness.

Tell me more about your conversation with your colleague. What happened? (Present moment awareness)

How do you think your colleague sees this issue? (Flexible perspective-taking)

What might be difficult for him in this? (Flexible perspective-taking)

Can you describe the moment when the conversation started to go off track? (Present moment awareness)

How do you feel now as you talk about this issue? (Acceptance)

How did you feel during the conversation? (Acceptance)

As the coach, you may suspect the client is fused with some rules around what she thinks her colleague should be doing. Encourage her to notice those rules and see if she can hold them more lightly (Defusion). Focus on workability; is it helpful to follow those rules?

Ask, “which qualities would you express in this situation if you were being the leader you want to be?” (Values)

What would that look like in your interactions with your colleague? (Committed action)

Bring compassion and curiosity to analyze the function of your client’s behavior, so she can make sense of it and work out how to change.

Work out a plan for your client to talk to her colleague again in a way that is more aligned with her values and less fused with rules about what the colleague should be doing. (Values, Defusion, Committed action)

Development of acceptance and commitment training

The first wave of behavior therapy was based on scientifically validated respondent and operant conditioning principles. The second wave focused on visible behavior and the identification and modification of cognitions. Known as cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT), it exemplified the underlying mechanistic model philosophy, using a machine or computer metaphor, and assuming feelings and overt behaviors are a result of the form, frequency, and content of thoughts, thus attempting to modify the form, frequency, and content of thoughts and feelings to modify behaviors.

The third wave of behavior therapy includes Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Functional Analytic Psychotherapy; with contextual philosophies considering behaviors and their functions in a situated and historical context; they include components of mindfulness, acceptance of thoughts and feelings rather than attempts to modify their form or frequency, values, relationships with others, spirituality, and a capacity to hold the tension of differing views; they promote the broadening of behavioral flexibility such as the capacity to take effective values aligned actions in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings rather than prioritizing symptom reduction.

In ACT, the power of language and thinking is fully acknowledged. Relational Frame Theory (RFT) accounts for language and cognition; it extends behaviorism by applying operant learning theories to private behaviors such as thinking.

Theory and basic concepts of acceptance and commitment coaching

Functional Contextualism.

The philosophical approach of functional contextualism postulates workability as a pragmatic truth criterion. It emphasizes determining what works in achieving a stated outcome rather than finding verifiable facts.

The stated outcome of ACT is to build a meaningful life through taking flexible and effective actions informed by what is available at any given moment and by relevant, freely chosen values.

Behavior is functional and purposeful. The context informs the purpose; we are asking, what is the function of this behavior in this context, and what is the behavior trying to achieve?

The same form of behavior in different instances could have different functions.

In functional contextualism, behavior is defined broadly as “any and all activity that anyone, and sometimes only one person, can observe, predict, or influence”; it can include private behaviors such as thinking or remembering. Context is then everything else that could be influencing the behavior: it is the “changeable stream of events that can exert an organizing influence on behavior.”

Context includes visible events in the world, or events like thinking and remembering, or physiological events like heart rate or sweating.

In ACT coaching, or ACC, the client works with the coach to choose the behavior she wants to focus on and the outcomes she wants to achieve based on what she cares about, her values, and what is or is not working currently. Once the client has chosen the behavior, everything else is context. Next, the context is explored to determine what could be changed, which would then support the desired change in behavior.

{Psychic phenomena, such as thoughts and emotions, emerge from the interaction of the person, embedded within a context, with the context. This interaction appears as distinct action.

In coaching and other helping relationships, these psychic events are investigated only concerning their contextual appearance and not as isolated entities.

Other forms of psychic events are values and goals. Values are judgments. Thoughts and beliefs about the truth of a statement can also become reflective judgments and turn into convictions. Reflective judgments map the phenomenal world along the validity dimension, or more valid to less valid.

Value judgments map the phenomenal world along the dimension of preference, or more preferred to less preferred.

So then, how can we act with so many different psychic forces at play; thoughts and emotions, values and goals, convictions and conflictions?

Functional contextualism provides the pragmatic criterion of success; actions have aims and consequences that provide success measures.}

For example, a client, Kate, brings up a problem action or behavior, such as shouting at a colleague, Sally.

Start by exploring the function and the context of the behavior so both coach and client understand and make sense of her behavior.

Explore the client’s internal context, thoughts, and feelings.

What emotion was she feeling? What was going through her mind?

Was her behavior an attempt to eliminate thoughts and feelings that she found unpleasant?

What is the person’s learning history?

What has she learned in the past about shouting?

What has she learned about when it is appropriate to shout?

What outcomes has she gained in the past from shouting?

What is Kate’s history with Sally?

What will work in this situation? What will help Kate achieve the goals that matter to her?

The coach and client develop a hypothesis for what is going on and design an intervention.

For example, Kate would be less reactive if she responded to feelings of anger with more curiosity and compassion.

Or perhaps remembering her values or holding her judgment about the situation more lightly (Defusion) would help.

Relational Frame Theory (RFT): The power of thought.

How do language and thought influence behavior?

Fundamental principles underlying human language are our ability to relate things to one another arbitrarily, i.e., independently of their physical characteristics, to derive relations between them subsequently, and in doing so, to transform meanings.

This capability is referred to as derived relational responding and has both adaptive and maladaptive consequences;

it generates self-experience,

allows us to govern behavior with verbal rules, and 

facilitates broad contact with psychological pain and pleasure.

RFT suggests that relational networks often become more influential over behavior than consequences in the external world. This “cognitive fusion” leads to inflexible and ineffective behavior.

RFT proposes that the combination of these implications leads to experiential avoidance, the effort to avoid or control painful private thoughts and feelings.

ACT proposes that experiential avoidance drives ineffective human behavior.

These theoretical ideas are the basis of ACT interventions.

Relations considered important in RFT include temporal: now, then; spatial: here, there, near, far; conditional: if, then; comparative and evaluative: better than, worse than, opposite of, part of, bigger than, faster than, prettier than.

Relational Frames:

Temporal and Causal frames: before and after, if/then, cause of, parent of.

Frames of Coordination: same as, similar, like.

Deictic (demonstrative or indexical) frames reference a speaker’s perspective, such as I/you, here/there, me, next Tuesday.

When we think, we arbitrarily relate events.

The self

By engaging in a combination of spatial (I/here) and temporal (now) framing, we experience a continuous perspective of I/here/now throughout life, creating an ongoing experience of self.

RFT identifies three aspects of self:

Self as content, or conceptualized self, is the narrative about our history and the characteristics we ascribe to ourselves.

Self as process, or present and aware self, is where we observe and describe our behavior, private and public, thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Self as context, or transcendent or observer self, is where the self is viewed as the container of our inner experiences. We take perspective on our thoughts and feelings; from this perspective, we view unpleasant thoughts and feelings without believing that we have to be controlled or harmed by them.

Each of these self-aspects can facilitate and restrict effective behavior in different contexts. For example, acting based on self as content concerning your professional identity may support appropriate professional diligence during working hours but be less helpful when your partner wants to discuss emotional intimacy issues.

RFT proposes that flexible perspective-taking, including the ability to move between the three self aspects, leads to greater behavioral flexibility.

In ACC, clients learn to engage with these three senses of self more effectively; to notice and hold their self stories more lightly, defusing from self as content; to observe the ebb and flow of inner experiences, self as a process; to see themselves as the context in which inner experiences occur rather than being their thoughts and feelings, self as an observer.

These skills then support broad, flexible, values-driven behavior.

Rule-governed behavior

Humans are rule followers, especially verbal rules, constructions of words that prescribe behavior and declare or infer consequences.

For example, “Study hard and get a good job,” or “boys don’t cry, or else.”

These sounds, written words, or thoughts have considerable influence to guide and dominate our behavior, regardless of the consequences of following the rule.

Rule-governed behavior helpfully facilitates persistent efforts to work toward valued future goals that may be distant or abstract; the same persistence in rule-following can also prevent flexibly changing behaviors as our circumstances change and blind us to the consequences of behavioral strategies that may no longer be effective.

ACT promotes greater flexibility by 

encouraging people to be more in contact with the present moment so their behavior can be informed by what is actually happening rather than by simply following an internal rule.

ACT introduces more workable and flexibly applied rules by choosing to behave in line with freely chosen values.

Clients learn to defuse from internal rules, so they can notice a rule and consciously decide whether to follow it or not.

A broad contact with psychological pain and pleasure. 

Through Relational framing, we use the problem-solving ability provided by temporal and comparative framing to imagine a future in which our circumstances are better or worse and then plan accordingly.

We can evaluate ourselves as worthy or unworthy in the present.

We can relive the agonies of past mistakes or savor past triumphs.

This predisposition to be vigilant to threats combined with an ability to create meanings through derived relational framing causes us to contact psychological pain in almost any situation.

Cognitive fusion

Concerning Stimulus control over responding, certain verbal functions exert strong stimulus control over responding to the exclusion of other directly or indirectly available psychological functions.

Complex relational networks often regulate our behavior more strongly than events in the external world. In the state of fusion, we tend to focus on the contents of our mind; thoughts, memories, assumptions, beliefs, and images; rather than what we are experiencing through our senses. We then make decisions and take actions based on our internal experience rather than what is happening in the world.

Experiential avoidance

At times, we may attempt to control, avoid, or eliminate unwanted thoughts and feelings. As a result, we may also avoid taking actions that are important to us. We may use this strategy to solve the perceived problem of painful psychological experiences.

Attempts to avoid internal pain often reduce discomfort in the short term, which means that the strategy tends to be repeated. In the longer term, private events, like thoughts and feelings, resist our attempts to control them.

The ACC task is to help your client notice her patterns of experiential avoidance and the impact of this avoidance. If something matters, it will sometimes involve some emotional pain. Encourage your client to become more willing to feel whatever emotions are present, to notice what is happening in the external world, and to choose workable values-aligned behavior.

The core purpose and primary focus of ACT

The main aim of ACT is to promote autonomous goal-directed behavior, helping people change behavior that moves their lives towards vitality and meaning.

Clients may enter coaching believing a core problem needing fixing is some unwanted inner experience, “I lack confidence,” “I get too anxious when I have to give a speech,” or “I get too angry too easily.” An ACT coach will question the assumption that changing internal experience is either desirable or possible.

Instead, clients are encouraged to engage differently with unwanted inner experiences and take meaningful action even in the presence of unhelpful thoughts and feelings.

ACT coaching in practice

ACT uses functional behavioral analysis and RFT to design interventions that build psychological flexibility to broaden and build flexible patterns of effective action.

Break psychological flexibility down into six processes;

Assess how the client is doing on these processes, in the moment and in general;

Use interventions designed to build these processes.


Values in ACT are qualities one can bring to bear at any moment, such as courage, compassion, or playfulness. So, for example, if I view compassion as a quality that matters to me and, over and over again, I choose to behave in ways that I view as compassionate, then, over time, my life will become meaningful to me.

In this view, values are intentional qualities that combine a string of moments into a meaningful path.

Also, in ACT, values are a special class of reinforcers that are verbally constructed, dynamic, ongoing patterns of activity for which the predominant reinforcer is intrinsic in the valued behavioral pattern itself.

If values wok is done well, then the chosen values reinforce behavior associated with those values, creating a positive feedback loop.

Values are not fixed; they evolve.

Values work encourages you to take action in your long-term interest and mitigates against actions rewarding in the short but unworkable in the long term.

Good values work encourages behavior patterns that, over time, help you create a rich and meaningful life.

The first step in ACC involves the client consciously and freely choosing her values:

Consider an upcoming key life event, such as your next milestone birthday; how would you like other people to have experienced you between now and then, and what qualities would you express in your interactions with the world?

Which domains of life matter to you, and what qualities do you want to express in these aspects?

The coaching task is to help your client clarify what she values in life and how she wants to show up in different life domains.

Clarifying values helps one be more willing to do what matters, even when experiencing uncomfortable emotions.

Committed Action involves identifying and taking actions that put chosen values into practice, taking these actions flexibly in response to the situation’s needs, and persisting with those actions even when experiencing unpleasant or unwanted thoughts, feelings, and urges.

Ultimately, the other five ACT processes support developing psychological flexibility to take action aligned with values and to do so in larger and larger patterns of value-congruent living.

The four ACT processes of acceptance, cognitive defusion, present moment awareness, and self-as-observer are components of mindfulness.

Acceptance or acknowledgment of current experience is choosing to adopt an open, curious, and receptive attitude to internal experiences, thoughts, emotions, memories, and urges as they arise, even when they are unpleasant or unwanted, in the service of taking goal-directed action.

Defusion is the ability to change the function of thought by modifying your relationship with the thought rather than the form or content of the thought. As a result, thoughts are recognized as transient events rather than unquestionable truths. This reduces automatic reacting and creates a space to choose actions aligned with personal goals effectively.

Techniques for defusion include mindfully observing thoughts as they come and go; labeling thoughts as products of a busy mind rather than facts to be believed or instructions to be followed.

Flexible contact with the present moment or Present Moment Awareness is the capacity to bring attention to bear in a focused, deliberate, and flexible way. It is built throughout the session by helping the client move her attention between different aspects of her experience in the moment or her narrative of the event she is describing. The client is then encouraged to notice those aspects as they appear in her life outside of the coaching sessions and to consciously broaden her attention in those moments.

Self-as-Observer is a particular type of perspective-taking, where “The person I call me knows what I am thinking but is distinct from that process.” I can observe the thoughts, feelings, and stories I have about myself without taking them as the same as me, without committing to them, reducing the dominance of rigid rule-governed behavior.

It is easier to experience this transcendent self if you have a good capacity for present-moment awareness and can observe your internal processes. So, it is often necessary to train the client in mindfulness skills before contacting this transcendent sense of self and developing the client’s perspective-taking skills.

Discussion points for ACC

How does experiential avoidance show up in your life?

What are some important actions you avoid because of unwanted thoughts and feelings?

Could you be willing to have that inner discomfort in the service of living your values more fully?

In ACT, values are defined in a particular way; how is this different or similar to how you use that word in your work with clients?

If you were to view values work as primarily about building intrinsic reinforcement for behavior patterns to enrich your client’s life, what would you do differently?

What are the pros and cons of describing your difficulties to clients?

In which situations would that be effective, and in which might it be problematic?

ACT has a focus on building present-moment awareness.

What strategies do you use in coaching sessions that lead to a more present, curious, and flexible exploration of a particular issue?

Fulfillment and the Coach’s Role: Co-Active Coaching

Fulfillment; sounds good, being satisfied and full, living the good life with meaning, purpose, engagement, and wellbeing.

And yet the path to fulfillment can be difficult, unfamiliar, and scary for us.

Choosing to live our lives based on our values is what we’re asked to do; each day, again and again, choosing a fulfilling life.

My role as a coach is to challenge and support you to pursue your fulfillment, despite circumstances, despite the difficult, the unfamiliar, the scary, despite the voices all around you offering their advice and their contrary addenda, and despite your inner saboteur, your inner critic.

My role as a coach is to be out front, encouraging, pointing the way to a life fully lived, a life valued and without regret. So the question is, “will you commit?”

My role is to challenge and support you, and your role is to choose your direction, align your goals, your values, and your resources, and commit. To embody a new way of being and live a full and rich life.

This is your big-“A” agenda; this is, at the core, the most life-giving choice you can make, so at the end of the day, there is more life and true satisfaction for you each day.

A fulfilled life is one you can live with purpose, intentionally.

Your very personal and peculiar answer to

What do you want your life to be like?

What do you want your life to be about?

This is the underlying question we are always tuned into, even if it is not always articulated; your full, resonant life, lived from your values.

And then there is the ongoing conversation, which is about action, about doing.

With each coaching session, there is an issue to work on, plans to make, goals to define, and accountability to create action and learning.

Action is where you make the fulfilling life real.

Your little-“a” agenda consists of goals, action, and accountability and leads to fulfilling your big-“A” agenda.

Principles and Practices of Co-Active Coaching

The three core principles of Co-Active Coaching are fulfillment, balance, and process.

These three core principles provide the deeper motivation for all coaching. The client’s current coaching issue is a way to expand the experience of these core principles.


Think about your own life for a moment.

What is your vision of a fulfilling life? What would that be like?

You might come to coaching with something much more specific and urgent at the forefront of your mind. Yet underneath the immediate agenda is a yearning for something even deeper.

A fulfilling life is a life of meaning, purpose, and satisfaction.

Pay attention to this yearning. It is like the keel of a boat in your own life; it is the shape of your life beneath the surface that keeps you on course.

Without that keel, a boat will drift and shift directions on the vagaries of the wind.

The Coaching task is to get clear on your personal shape of fulfillment. And then you can choose to take your life in any direction you wish.

The tools of fulfillment coaching help clients find that shape through Agenda setting; Values clarification; Wheel of Life: Fulfillment, Level of Satisfaction; Purpose quest; Strengths assessment.

It may take courage and commitment to choose and keep choosing a course of fulfillment. Choosing to create a truly fulfilling life, setting fulfilling goals, and getting into action will upset the status quo.

A shift in outlook: From “have” to “be.”

The quest for a more fulfilling life draws your attention to what you have and what you don’t have, and you will see a gap, something that is missing, and you then look for something to fill the gap, something that will make your life more fulfilling.

Unfortunately, getting and having things are momentary, and the satisfaction is fleeting.

To Be Fulfilled

In our frame for fulfillment, we ask you to look at what it would take to be fulfilled today. Fulfillment is available every day of our lives. Envisioning a future that is even more fulfilling and working toward goals that make the vision real are the doorways to being fulfilled.

Fulfillment is an exercise of choice. You will still want to have things, and these will be the expressions of your fulfillment, such as a successful business, more money, or a romantic relationship.

Feeling good versus Being fulfilled

Look for harmony, congruence, a sense of effortlessness, doing what is important to you, and things that claim your passion and commitment.

Living a life of purpose, mission, or service can be intense, sometimes heartbreaking, exhausting, and simultaneously enormously fulfilling. A sense of inner peace and outer struggle at the same time.

Being Fully Alive

Fulfillment is the state of fully expressing who we are and doing what is right for us. A feeling of wholeness, satisfaction, rightness, and harmony. Resonance. Everything we most value is in alignment.

The feeling at the moment of choice may be dramatic, intense, thunderous, exciting, or edgy, or it may be still, serene, pastel, and intimate. It might be a unique combination of all of these. But you will feel the resonance, and the pieces of your life come together in a personal sense of wholeness and of feeling alive. An experience of being complete.

Big A Agenda, Little a agenda

Big A Agenda

Your full, resonant life lived from your values. An underlying question the coach and client are always tuned to, even if it is not always stated, is, “What do you want your life to be?” The emphasis is on the “being” state.

The ongoing conversation is about action and the doing. Action is where you make the fulfilling life real.

Little a agenda

This consists of goals, action, and accountability. With each coaching session, there is an issue to work on, plans to make, goals to define, and accountability to create action and learning.

The “little a” agenda fulfills the “big A” agenda.

A coaching task is to hold this meta-view for the client, probing to make sure the action being contemplated is aligned with the client’s resonant, fully alive life and not motivated by fear, circumstances, or a corrupted sense of duty.

Big A Agenda questions are, “What is your vision? Who are you becoming? What is present when life is most alive for you?”

Fulfillment and Values

Living according to what you value most; would that be fulfilling? The link between values and fulfillment seems obvious. You would do what brings you the greatest joy or deepest satisfaction; you would be with the people you love, use your natural talents, and exploit your gifts to their fullest.

The coaching task is to discover and clarify your values; what makes you tick, what is important and what is not, and what is truly essential to you?

Having a map will guide you along the decision paths of your life, to take a stand and make choices based on what is fulfilling to you.

Honoring our values is inherently fulfilling, even when it is hard. There will be times when we must suffer discomfort to live according to some value. The discomfort will pass, and a sense of integrity or congruency with your values will remain.

When the value is not honored, however, you will feel internal tension or dissonance with a high price to pay: a life of toleration or betrayal rather than fulfillment.

Values, Morals, Principles

Values are not morals, not principles. Values are qualities of a life lived fully from the inside out. Articulation, prioritization, and clarity of our values determine our identity.

The words you use to indicate a value are less important than your ability to feel the impact of that value. What do the words represent for you; your unique metaphor or expression may capture best the sense of the value.

Values are intangible, not something we do or have, yet they are not invisible.

Resources can lead to honoring values. For example, cherished activities can honor certain values.

Your stories about your life, your actions, and the things you choose and don’t choose all help to clarify your values. As you clarify and focus on your values, you will notice when you honor your values and when you don’t.

Values Clarification

Tool: Extracting values from the client’s life experience.

Describe values you see in your own life using your own words.

You can mine any life situation for values. Especially those with a strong impact, positive or negative, will be productive. This way, values rise naturally out of your (client’s) own life. No checklist, no values shopping, less about having socially admirable ones, more about what matters most in your life!

Where is this value showing up?

What values do you sometimes neglect?

Which are the values you will not compromise?

Any given daily activity or choice can be linked to a value honored or a value betrayed.

Exercise 1: Develop a personal list of values.

Exercise 2: Prioritize, and rank the top 10.

Feel the unique qualities of each value, feel the special importance of each one. The prioritized list is secondary to getting a feel of embodying each value.

Next step: Ask, “how are you honoring these values, on a scale of 1 to 10?”

A low ranking may point to some important aspects of the client’s life arousing upset, anger, and resentment because of a squashed value.

What’s that about?

What would it take to live that value in those circumstances?

What is the price you pay for not honoring that value?

What’s stopping you?