It’s not always easy to align our actions with our values.
By identifying and exploring what we find meaningful, we can learn to prioritize each life domain and work toward more fulfilling lives (LeJeune & Luoma, 2019).
Values are vital in therapists’ personal and professional lives. Values-guided therapy can help clients focus on the intrinsic meaning behind goals and stay on track when confronted by obstacles.
In this article, we share 15 values worksheets to use with clients to help them identify, understand, and implement values-led decision-making and goal-driven behavior.
Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Meaning and Valued Living Exercises for free. These creative, science-based exercises will help you learn more about your values, motivations, and goals and give you the tools to inspire a sense of meaning in the lives of your clients, students, or employees.
Because values can ground and direct our therapeutic work, enriching client lives, it is essential to understand what they are (LeJeune & Luoma, 2019):
Actions or behaviors that reflect a way of living — behaviors rather than just words
Chosen freely by individuals, without being influenced by external factors, reasoning, or moral codes
A direction for how to live one’s life rather than specific goals to be achieved or completed
Always present and accessible but never fully attained
The following worksheets are helpful for working with clients to increase their awareness and focus on their values.
Setting Valued Goals
In the Setting Valued Goals worksheet, the client reflects on their personal values and why they matter, capturing their ambitions and passions.
Three questions are central to the process:
What do you consider most important in life? What do you feel gives your life meaning and purpose? What makes you happiest, most satisfied, and most fulfilled?
Next, by highlighting the most important life domains, the client can focus on how their values play out in action.
Finally, the results lead to prioritizing personal goals that align with high-ranked values.
Willingness, Goals, and Action Plan
When setting goals and building plans for meaningful living, obstacles can impede committing to the next step. Barriers may include:
Fear of failure Fear of uncertainty Difficulties with overly ambitious goals
Using this worksheet, the client reflects on a series of questions, including:
What is my goal? What values underpin my goal? What actions should I take to accomplish my goal? What thoughts, mental processes, and feelings am I prepared to create space for? What obstacles stand in my way? What would help? How can I make my task easier? What would be a manageable first step? When can I begin?
Writing Your Mission Statement
It’s not only nonprofit organizations and businesses that benefit from having a clear mission statement; people do too.
By capturing their mission statement on paper or digitally, clients can bring clarity and focus to what they wish to achieve, helping them check in occasionally to see if their life is on track.
In this exercise, the client answers several questions to help them define their mission, including:
What is most important to me? What do I value the most? What am I most passionate about? What do my friends, colleagues, and loved ones consider my greatest strengths? What legacy do I wish to leave behind?
The answers help the client build a mission statement:
I will do X for Y to achieve Z.
I will create fascinating podcasts for people interested in psychology to apply science-based learning in their everyday lives.
2 ACT Values Worksheets
“To create the conditions for genuine happiness in your life, you’ll first need to know what matters to you” and then find ways to make it part of daily living (Forsyth & Eifert, 2016, p. 213).
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) recognizes that having purpose is vital for human flourishing and that it boils down to identifying our values (Forsyth & Eifert, 2016):
What do I want my life to be about? What really matters to me?
The following two worksheets are designed with ACT in mind to help the client identify and clarify their values.
Commitment, Obstacles, and Strategies
Commitment is an essential aspect of ACT and combines with value-led goal setting.
Identify a life goal (commitment). What concrete goal have you identified that relates to your values?
Consider the potential obstacles that stand in the way. What barriers could prevent you from reaching your goal?
Reflect on and capture strategies to overcome obstacles. What could you do to tackle these obstacles?
The answers can be stored and revisited to understand progress and identify the most helpful coping strategies.
Values and Problems
Reducing struggle and suffering in the client’s life is essential to therapeutic success in ACT.
To do so, the therapist considers the problematic thoughts and behaviors that cause or contribute to their difficulties and replaces them with value-driven goals and actions (Forsyth & Eifert, 2016).
In this exercise, the client is introduced to the following four key elements of ACT, reflecting on each one and capturing their thoughts:
Problematic thoughts and emotions – What negative or unhelpful mental patterns, processes, and self-talk do you struggle with?
Problematic behaviors – Which actions do you engage in that take away from, rather than add to, your life?
Values – What do you consider most important to you in your life?
Goals and actionable steps – What things do you do to improve your life in the long term?
The effort given to answering these questions is time well spent, helping the client picture and work toward a meaningful and valued life.
Download 3 Meaning & Valued Living Exercises (PDF)
These detailed, science-based exercises will equip you or your clients with tools to find meaning in life help and pursue directions that are in alignment with values.
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2 Ways to Identify Core Values
In many ways, “values aren’t really a thing at all. Values are the ways of living and being in this world that are important and meaningful to you” (LeJeune & Luoma, 2019, p. 11).
Identifying our core values offers insight into living a more fulfilling and meaningful life. Knowing them can reduce complexity, bringing clarity to what we do, how we behave, and what we strive for (Berg & Slaattelid, 2017).
Use the following worksheets with your clients to help them ask the right questions and reflect on what they want out of life to identify their values.
Life Deviation Scores and Setting Goals
Knowing our highest-valued life domains is essential for identifying which areas of our lives need the most attention.
This worksheet defines meaningful long- and short-term goals to help clients focus their energies according to their values.
The result is a series of highly valued goals broken down into manageable chunks of work.
Your Core Values Worksheet
While value identification is essential to a flourishing life, we may need help to identify what is most important to us.
In fact, we may struggle to think of more than a few, so we may settle for ones that don’t truly reflect what is important to us.
The client lists and ranks their most valued life domains on a scale of 1 (not at all important) to 10 (extremely important).
Once done, they repeat the exercise, indicating how much fulfillment each value brings to their lives right now (where 1 is “no fulfillment,” and 10 is “total fulfillment”).
When the second score is subtracted from the first, the result is recognized as “life deviation.” If the number is high (meaning there is a significant gap between the importance of a value and its current impact), it can help offer clarity regarding which life domains require additional attention.
Personal core values: the why, what and how – Peace Itimi
For Exploring Relationship Values
Relationships are recognized as essential to human flourishing, especially warm and supportive ones. They confer long-lasting mental and physical health benefits that impact the entire human life span (Waldinger & Schulz, 2023).
However, they often don’t receive the attention they deserve for a happy life and increased mental wellbeing (Waldinger & Schulz, 2023).
The following worksheets focus on the values surrounding positive relationships.
Understanding the Values You Want in a Relationship
Most of us know the importance of good relationships at work, in education, and our personal lives.
In this exercise, the client starts by considering what the word “values” means in terms of their relationships with friends and family.
Next, the client reflects on what changes they would like to see in the world and how to show their values in their relationships.
Valuing My Partner Worksheet
We are often highly critical of those we have relationships with. As a result, we can damage the bond between us and how the other person feels.
Spending time considering the qualities, shared memories, and what we value in our partner can help us see our relationship more positively.
What qualities first attracted me to my partner? What qualities do I find attractive in my partner now? What are my favorite memories of time spent with my partner? When does my partner show me how much they care about and value me? Why do I value my partner?
While the focus here is on a romantic partner, we can tailor the questions toward any relationship.
Values Inventory Worksheets
We have already seen the importance and value of identifying, exploring, and applying our values throughout our life domains (LeJeune & Luoma, 2019).
In the following worksheets, we go further, increasing our commitment to living our values.
Identifying the practical steps required to achieve them
Planning to overcome obstacles along the way
The client can repeat the exercise for multiple values or revisit the same value later.
Personal Values Worksheet
In this exercise, the client creates a values inventory to explore and clarify what is meaningful to them in 10 different life categories:
Leisure and fun
Health and physical wellness
Social citizenship/environmental responsibility
Personal development and growth
“Humans are highly social creatures and our actions or inactions impact countless others whose lives we touch, for better or worse.”
LeJeune and Luoma, 2019, p. 154
Clients can use their newfound knowledge of values to create more meaningful lives while guiding others within their family unit, improving bonds, connections, and relationships along the way (LeJeune & Luoma, 2019).
Mind the Gap
When we become disengaged from others within the family, we can lose close connections and bonds can become damaged.
This worksheet is helpful for clients wishing to identify gaps that need to be addressed and where either the wrong values have been adopted or insufficient attention is being placed on the right ones.
Parenting With Purpose
Parenting can be difficult. Therefore, it can be helpful for clients having difficulty with their children to remind themselves of their values and purpose as a parent.
An in-depth explanation of positive psychology and second-wave positive psychology, providing a foundation for goal-oriented practice
Brings clarity to the complex topic of valued living and provides hands-on tools to assess and increase purpose in life
An exploration of values with a focus on helping clients discover what is important to them and how to live them
The course is self-paced and includes all that is needed to help clients, including:
Illustrations, exercises, and references
Train-the-trainer instructions and support materials
If you are not quite ready to embark on this incredible course, you might want to consider a collection of tools first. For science-based ways to help others discover meaning, this collection contains 17 validated meaning tools for practitioners. Use them to help others choose directions for their lives in alignment with what is truly important to them.
A Take-Home Message
By focusing on values-led decision-making and goal-driven behavior, therapists can help clients prioritize what is deeply meaningful in their lives.
These should be truly personal; they are the ways of living, behaving, and existing that are vital to the client.
Awareness and deep knowledge of values can help them reduce complexity in their day-to-day life, while boosting clarity in all they do and what they strive for when overcoming obstacles.
With this newfound knowledge, clients can create more meaningful lives and improve their relationships with others. By being increasingly authentic — more themselves — they will develop deep and enduring bonds that align with their value-led goals and decisions.
The shared worksheets provide valuable tools for increasing awareness and understanding of personal values, which can ultimately lead to more fulfilling lives. Use them to ask the right questions and reflect on what they want out of their lives.
Creating a life of flourishing requires careful consideration of values and their implementation in clients’ lives.
Berg, H., & Slaattelid, R. (2017). Facts and values in psychotherapy: A critique of the empirical reduction of psychotherapy within evidence‐based practice. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, 23(5), 1075–1080.
Forsyth, J. P., & Eifert, G. H. (2016). The mindfulness & acceptance workbook for anxiety: A guide to breaking free from anxiety, phobias & worry using acceptance & commitment therapy. New Harbinger.
LeJeune, J., & Luoma, J. B. (2019). Values in therapy: A clinician’s guide to helping clients develop psychological flexibility and live a more meaningful life. Context Press.
Waldinger, R. J., & Schulz, M. S. (2023). The good life: Lessons from the world’s longest scientific study of happiness. Simon & Schuster.
About the author
Jeremy Sutton, Ph.D., is a writer and researcher studying the human capacity to push physical and mental limits. His work always remains true to the science beneath, his real-world background in technology, his role as a husband and parent, and his passion as an ultra-marathoner.