Positive values vs. negative values

We find it important to determine the individual’s values, particularly when we talk to them about aspirations. This raises the question of what we mean by values. Often times an individual will attach high value to counterproductive activities such as drinking or using drugs. They might attach high value to beliefs such as “you need to get even with someone who offends you”. Finally, a high value may be attached to the remaining inert since it prevents being rejected or failing. Thus, we can translate the current concept into a hierarchy of beliefs. Some of the beliefs may be noble and others aren’t productive or destructive. Those that are noble are considered values, whereas the rest are considered dysfunctional beliefs. What we need to do is to facilitate the individuals attaching greater value to beliefs or activates that are in line with their aspirations and goals and diminish the value attached to the counterproductive activities and beliefs.

I would welcome suggestions as to how to accomplish this. One way is to outline the advantages and disadvantages of a particular belief or activity. Usually, for a positive value, the advantages will top the disadvantages. Another application of the concept of values is the use of a Pie chart. Initially, the individual fills out the chart according to how much time they spend in each activity. The clinician then can go over each item and collaboratively attach a value to the items. Hopefully, the new advantageous values will outweigh the disadvantaged values and the individual will invest their capital in the “good values” as opposed to the “bad values”.

This approach has been used successfully with substance abuse, preoccupation with pain, and schizophrenia.

Please send me your suggestions about increasing the investment in positive values and decreasing the investment in negative values.

-ATB