What are core values?
Why are they important?
What do they bring to personal development and therapy?
As we go through life, we develop principles and beliefs that are of the highest importance to us. These are our ‘core values’. Our core values are unique to us. Every single person on the planet has a different set of core values (though some may be similar). Our life experiences help form these core values and those same experiences can generate change in those values, as our priorities change. In addition, key aspects of our personality also affect our core values, giving us the standards by which we live our lives. With a combination of ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’ helping in the formation, maintenance and constant development of our core values, no two people, even if brought up together, will have identical core values. Indeed, they could be dramatically different.
Why would you want to know your own core values?
Have you ever done something and it hasn’t felt ‘quite right’ at the time? Perhaps you accepted a job opportunity that looked good to others, but wasn’t quite you? Or even let go of a friendship without really knowing why it wasn’t working for you? It may be that the values associated with that job, or that friend, were not compatible with your core values.
When people “live by” their core values, they tend to experience a greater level of emotional fulfilment, than if they were to go against them. Some people even find that going against their core values leads to psychological disturbance on some level, whether subtle or extreme. Core values can be thought of almost as a “code of conduct” that we have developed for ourselves, that helps us choose how to act and react in a way that is congruent with the things that we value most. That said, many people (including clients) are unaware and unfamiliar with the idea of core values, so it’s (generally) unlikely that your clients will already know their own core values…but they’re definitely worth knowing.
As a coach, therapist or hypnotherapist, why would you want to know the core values of your client?
By finding out the client’s core values, you will be better able to formulate your treatment or coaching strategy, in a way that is congruent for them. Where strategies and treatment approaches meet one or more of a client’s core values, they will resonate better with them on both a conscious and a subconscious level. Clients may simply find that they ‘feel right’. The better focused your work, the more effective it is likely to be, and the more successful the outcome for you and your client.
So, how do you find out what the core values of your clients are?
It’s actually relatively simple. Let’s say you are at the start of a session with a new client, you can give the client a list/set of core values (at least 100 different, various ones), and ask them to consider each and every core value briefly, arranging them in low, medium and high importance piles. Then, from the high importance stack, you want your client to whittle the core values down to around five that are of the highest importance. Many more than five and their focus is likely to be too diluted. The key to getting a ‘true reading’, is to have the client sort through their core values quickly, without giving them a chance to over-think the selection process. They need to do it based upon their immediate gut feeling.
So, how do I use this core value information?
When you have established what the client’s core values are (for example; Free will, Creativity, Independence, Freedom, Diversity) they can then be applied in various ways throughout the therapy process. Indeed, they can influence your entire overall approach with that client. For example, if they value independence and creativity, you are unlikely to do well setting them a prescriptive task, where they have to follow a set process, but may do better with an exploratory task where they get to feel more independent and creative.
A key application of core values, particularly from a solution-focused perspective, is within the goal-setting process. If your client’s goals are connected and congruent with their core values (or at least with one of them), then the goal is much more likely to resonate with the client on a personal level, in a way that they can truly engage with. If a client comes to you with a goal that goes against any of their core values, this is something that you’d be best knowing before you start your therapy or coaching process. Also, by becoming aware of their core values, clients are able to make their day-to-day decisions and plans strongly connected to their values too. This enables them to live by their values more in everything that they do, which can increase self-esteem, self-fulfilment and self-actualisation.
In which areas can I use this approach with clients?
Popular applications of core-value congruent change include; addictions, anger, anxiety, bereavement, grief and loss, binge eating, bruxism, confidence, disordered eating, exam/interview/test nerves, fears and phobias, goal achievement, insomnia, nail biting, memory, pain management, performance anxiety, public speaking, relationship issues, sadness / low mood, self-esteem / self-confidence, smoking, sport performance, stress management, weight management, and much more.
How can I find out more?
If you feel that core values are something that you’d either like to use for yourself, or integrate into your own therapy or coaching practice, then you might like to check out our Core Values Cards. These 108 core values have been strategically selected so that any client, regardless of age, sex, race or location, will be able to choose the core values that best resonate with them.
In addition, with your set of Core Values Cards, you’ll also receive detailed instructions on how to use them even more effectively with clients; helping them to engage with their core values throughout various parts of their therapy process.
Buy your set of Core Values Cards on Amazon now:
We hope this blog has been helpful, and if you have any questions relating to this blog or the subject of core values, do please get in touch, because we’re always happy to help!
– written by Rory Z Fulcher