ACT Book Summary: Pages 205 - 212

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What are values?
1. Values represent "verbally constructed global desired life consequences", different from goals in that they specify a more general direction and hence can not ultimately be satisfied, completed or achieved. For example the goal of completing this summary serves a larger goal of learning about ACT, that is consistent with my life value of continuing to learn as much as I can about psychology and its disciplines. Values typically elicit a number of goals, that is, values are "a verbal glue that holds sets of goals together".

2. Values are an action, not a feeling. Values are followed through behaviour, not through it necessarily "feeling right".

3. Values are a more stable form of "verbal rules" re-aligning a client in the present to a valued direction. Thoughts and feelings can be contradictory and inconsistent.

4. The main goal of ACT is help clients develop a "behavioural trajectory" that is vital and valued.

5. All of the techniques in ACT feed this main goal. Techniques such as defusion and acceptance are only useful in so far that they provide a means for a client to achieve a valued end.

Are values innate or learned?

6. All clients have the capacity to define their life direction (i.e. develop values)

7. Verbal fusion and experiential avoidance are common barriers to following these values

8. Developing values is linked more to removing barriers (e.g., verbal fusion) rather than needing to teach valuing skills.

9. A lack of values in a client may reflect a chaotic, unpredictable environment, where the development of values/goals has met with frequently painful or disappointing consequences.

10. The social/verbal community requires that we have explanations or justification for our actions. Citing values may not appease this community, hence they are not always socially reinforced.

Why have them?

11. People's behaviour is shaped by consequences, both experienced and verbally constructed. While learning histories provide a means of shaping behaviour over the short term, language provides the means by which behaviour can be shaped over longer periods (i.e., knowing that I will receive my degree at the end of 4 years keeps me studying, even though short term consequences can be somewhat aversive).

12. Values are part of this language process, specifying long term consequences for current behaviour. They can coordinate current actions over long time frames and since they are global, they require a person to do this on a day-to-day basis, different from specific goals in that they are not achievable per se.

Stance of the ACT therapist with regards to values:

13. ACT therapists are asking clients a number of questions with regards to values:

1) What are your values (this will be explored with other people's summaries)
2) Can you act in a way that is consistent with your values, even when your thoughts or feelings tell you otherwise?"
3) What stands in the way of you acting in accordance with your values?
4) In pursuing a valued life direction, are you willing to have what emerges, what you encounter along the way?
5) Is there a difference between feeling a belief and acting on a belief? How will others know? (The "argyle socks exercise" is a useful way of addressing some of these questions)