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Values Cards Exercise to Identify Values

Values cards are very useful in helping clients identify their values. Values cards allow us to prompt clients with a range of values they may not have previously considered might be useful to them, and then have a discussion about values and what they mean to the client’s life.

We start by asking our clients to separate the 52 cards into three piles: ‘very important’, ‘important’, and ‘not as important’. Before asking the client to do this, emphasise that these values are not ‘shoulds’ or ‘musts’. There are no right or wrong answers in determining the values that are important to them. Ask the client to distribute the cards into the three piles quickly, without thinking too much. 

When they have done this, place to one side the ‘important’ and ‘not as important’ piles. Then, ask the client to re-sort the ‘very important’ pile into three piles – again, ‘very important’, ‘important’, and ‘not as important’. We want between five and nine cards in the remaining ‘very important’ pile. We want our clients to have enough values to guide them without being overwhelmed. 

Then, ask the client to arrange the cards on the table or surface in front of them, in an order that is meaningful to them. This could create eight separate and evenly spaced cards, pairs or other groupings, or a combination of grouped and single cards. 

We then want to explore the meaning behind the words for this client and any specific placement decisions. We can ask what life would be like if one or more values were missing and what the effect would be. After this discussion we can encourage our clients to take a photo of the arrangement, or otherwise record the values.

Additionally, we can explore the ‘not as important pile’ in the same way. There is a lot of information in this pile about the client’s perspective on life. It also serves to remind the client that the ‘not as important’ values still have a role in their life and the way they live it.

The values cards are useful because they include values that clients may not have considered. They may not be the ‘most important’ values, but they may trigger ideas or connections, or – rather than be a value to work towards - may refer to a value or characteristic that they hold as basic assumptions about their own character or life.


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