At Inspire Addiction Recovery, we use Values-Focused Therapy (VFT), a treatment based upon the values of the client. VFT is based upon the principle that the secret to happiness is lining up one’s actions with one’s values. Our clients first learn about values and what they are. Clients then identify their top seven values – values that they feel make their treatment worth their time and money. These seven values become the basis for their therapy and everything they do. Clients are asked to define these values then identify someone in their lives that exemplifies each one. They are asked to keep a daily inventory and rate themselves every night on how well they lived each value. Clients are asked to do a one hour project based upon each value where they will help solidify the values in their hearts.
In individual therapy, the client’s life is put in motion around the seven values. In couples’ counseling, the couple identifies the top seven values the marriage is based upon and then the marriage is put in motion around those values. In family therapy, the family identifies the top seven values the family is based upon and then the family is put in motion around those values.
Using the analogy of an onion, we believe that most people agree with core values, but with each layer we get farther apart from the middle. It’s not the values we disagree with it’s how they are manifested in our lives that cause contentions.
For example, when a child comes home from a date and her mother is waiting up for her she may argue that her mother doesn’t trust her. The truth is that both the mother and the child value love and the mother is trying to show love by being concerned about her daughter’s date. With that understanding, the daughter doesn’t get mad and might express to her mom that she receives love when her mom doesn’t wait up for her. Mom doesn’t need to agree to do this; it just helps to know that the behavior is based upon values.
Another example would be a wife who corrects her husband’s lack of manners. The husband might take offense thinking his wife is always picking on him. If he were to see that his wife valued caring then he would understand she was doing it because she cared and wouldn’t fight her because she cares about him.
A concept unique to VFT is Intent Communication. Intent Communication is when we ask a person to explain their intentions behind their words. Most arguments in relationships are caused by a misunderstanding of the other person’s intentions. Perception is reality to the beholder and as we share our intentions then our perception changes and thus our reality changes too. As we work in therapy, we make sure our intentions are in line with our values. When there is a discrepancy between the two, the intentions must change.
Another concept unique to VFT is carefrontation. When someone knows we value love and live by it, they are willing to take the feedback we give them. A story illustrating this point comes from a scout master who once tried to quit his responsibilities when he was chewed out by a scout’s parents after he chastised the scout for not having his pack turned in on time. When someone close to the parents asked why they were upset about the situation, they said, “No one can talk to our boy that way!” This person responded, “You let me talk to your boy that way,” to which they responded, “that’s because we know you love him.” Doesn’t that make all the difference in the world?
Pride is another term often brought up in VFT. Pride is part of all contention. The pride we speak of isn’t in the context of when a father is proud of his son, it is the negative sense in which one person thinks they are better than another. Pride is based upon competition. It divides people. It pits us against them. Its purpose is to take us off our value system. We go against our values when we feed into pride.
Many people mistakenly think they can find happiness by changing their values to line up with their actions. It doesn’t work this way. It doesn’t work in other treatments that are based upon cognitions, emotions, and acceptance. Happiness is lining up the actions with the values. That is the basis of the Inspire Addiction Recovery treatment program.