Using Values Clarification to Enhance CBT Work

Kimberly Morrow

Adding values clarification to CBT for anxiety and OCD is a powerful way to help your clients gain their lives back. Sometimes clients are so entangled in their beliefs about their symptoms that it is difficult for them to see a way out even with cognitive behavioral therapy.

I have some clients right now that are really struggling. One woman spends hours every night in her bathroom, unable to shift even a small piece of her compulsions that have haunted her every night for most of her life. This has left her with only a few hours to sleep each night and prevents her from functioning during her day. Another client finds herself escaping with sleep just to get relief from the severe anxiety she feels most of the day. She spent two years in bed sleeping which meant she was not participating in her life with her family. Both of these clients have given up the things that matter most to them as they have given in to fear.

An important step to take early on in therapy is to clarify what is important to your client. What do they value in their lives? Their answers will help you begin to get to know who they are separate from their disorder. It will also help your client be clear as to why they are willing to endure exposure and response prevention therapy. This clarity can be the piece that takes your client from feeling despair to feeling hope.

The person who gets stuck in her bathroom wants to become a doctor. Before she goes into the bathroom she reminds herself that the only way she will become a doctor is if she is more powerful than OCD.  She is slowly able to spend less time in the bathroom and has shifted to using the bathroom in the morning when she has more success fighting OCD.  She has also used this clarity to choose to use the bathroom during her clinical rotations, reminding OCD that becoming a doctor is more important than feeling comfortable.

The client who was sleeping all day told me her kids mean the world to her and she has missed out on so much because of her anxiety. I was able to help her shift from choosing sleep to avoid anxiety to choosing to feel anxiety so she can be with her children.

Spending time with your client understanding what they really value will help motivate them to be successful in CBT therapy.This post is sponsored by nOCD.  Dowload this mobile tool for free.

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