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Values Therapy need not always proceed systematically. But a systematic procedure may be helpful to some, at least to make clear which operations are important in Values Therapy. This is the outline of such a systematic procedure:
Step 1: Ask yourself what you want in life, both your most important desires as well as your routine desires. Write down the answer below. The list may be long, and it is likely to include very disparate items ranging from peace in the world, to professional success, to a new car every other year, to your oldest daughter being more polite to her grandmother.
Step 2: Rank these desires corresponding to their importance to you. One method is to put numbers on each want, running from "1" (all-importance) to "5" (not very important).
Step 3: Ask yourself whether any really important wants have been left off your list. Good health for yourself and your family? The present and future happiness of your children or spouse? The feeling that you are living an honest life? Remember to include matters that might seem important when looking back on your life at age 70 that might not come to mind now, such as spending plenty of time with your children, or having the reputation as a person who is helpful to others.
4: Look for the conflicts in your list of wants. Check if conflicts are resolved
in a manner that contradicts the indications of importance that you accord to
the various elements. For example, you may put health for yourself in the top
rank and professional success in the second rank, but you may, nevertheless, be
working so hard for professional success that you are doing serious harm to your
health, with depression as a result.
5: Take steps to resolve the conflicts between higher-order and lower-order
values in such manner that higher-order values, requiring you not to be depressed,
are put in control. If you recognize that you are working so hard that you are
injuring your health and additionally depressing yourself, and that health is
more important than the fruits of the extra work, you will be more likely to face
up to a decision to work less and to avoid being depressed; a wise general physician
may put the matter to you in exactly this fashion.
Adapted from Good Mood: The New Psychology of Overcoming Depression. Simon, Julian L. Open Court Publishing Company: Illinois. 1993.
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