Values Clarification

Values clarification offers a way to understand what is important to us and set a path to incorporate these values into our daily lives. Through values clarification, we can feel in-touch with our life’s meaning and a deeper sense of satisfaction within our daily routines.

What is values clarification?

Values clarification is a method of determining what your inner values are and how closely you’re living to these values. Values describe a set of core beliefs that guide what we like, how we make decisions, who we engage with, and how we feel about ourselves. Some examples of values include:

  • Respect
  • Honesty
  • Service to others
  • Fairness
  • Healthy living
  • Humility

When we don’t live by our values, we create a dissonance between what we’re doing and what we want our lives to be about. Without being authentic, we end up unhappy, distressed, or disengaged.

Symptoms of values clarification issues

When we lose sight of our values or we aren’t practicing our values in our daily lives, it can have an impact on our mental health. Sometimes, it’s impossible to live by our values, even though we want to. An example of this is when we take a job that requires us to act in one way, even when we want to act in another way. This is called moral distress and can be very uncomfortable.

Having issues of values clarification can lead to:

  • Feelings of dissatisfaction
  • Burnout
  • Sadness or despair
  • Confusion, including identity confusion
  • Feeling disconnected from the self and others
  • Feeling stuck and not knowing how to make healthy change
  • Physical signs of stress including headaches, body aches, or an upset stomach
  • Insomnia
  • Inability to enjoy activities, including social activities

Therapy for values clarification

Therapists who specialize in values clarification help clients live by their values. First, therapists will start by educating clients about what values are and why they’re important to live by. They’ll then take clients through any number of values clarification exercises, including asking clients to identify their core beliefs and rate how often they practice these core beliefs each day. Clients have the opportunity to process through their emotions around their daily routines or their big decisions, and how their values impacted these experiences.

The goal of therapy for values clarification is to identify and surpass any roadblocks that stop a person from living a life according to their values. Therapists give clients the emotional and behavioral tools they need to make healthy change in their life that takes them towards a more fulfilling, comfortable way of living.