Theme: Building a Life Worth Living

Kid strategy of the week

  • Three Trees Activity: This is an art therapy activity that you can do with nearly any age child (or adult). Have the child gather three separate pieces of paper and any type of art supplies. Ask them to draw three pictures, one on each of the pages:
    • A tree that represents how they saw themselves in the past (perhaps at the beginning of the school year, last year, or when they were much younger)
    • A tree that represents them now
    • A tree that represents how they hope to be in the future
  • Use the drawings to talk about how the client has grown in the past, as well as how they hope to grow in the future.
  • Sample Progress Note: The focus of the session was (tailor based on treatment plan). The therapist engaged the client in an art therapy activity designed to help them reflect on their growth as well as identify hopes for the future. The Ct responded to the art activity by (fill in the blank).

Couples strategy of the week

  • Building a Shared Life Worth Living: Couples who have a shared sense of meaning in their lives tend to have stronger relationships over time. Having a shared definition of a life worth living can include sharing a vision for the future, goals, and rituals of connection (e.g., regular, enjoyable activities). The following questionnaire can help you see areas in your lives where your life dreams are aligned, as well as areas where you could begin fostering more connection with each other.
  • Sample Progress Note: The focus of this session was… The therapist helped the couple explore their sense of shared meaning in their lives together using a Gottman Therapy assessment. The couple was (receptive/engaged/resistant/etc.) while exploring shared meaning, and they reported that discussing this topic was (helpful/difficult/etc.).

Adult strategy of the week

  • Using Values to Create a Life Worth Living: Living a life driven by your values is an excellent way to foster a sense of meaning, purpose, and congruence throughout life. Using the following list of values, create your own list of your top 10 values and then select your top 3 from that list. Using these 3 values, reflect on the following questions:
    • What made you choose these particular values from the list?
    • Where did you learn these values?
    • In what ways does your life right now align with your values?
    • How can you incorporate these values into your personal life? Family? Professional life
    • Are there aspects of your life right now that do not align with your top 3 values? If so, are there changes you can make to help them align with your values?
  • Sample Progress Note: The focus of this session was… The therapist helped the client explore ways to create meaning in their life through values exploration and clarification. The client (was able to/had difficulty/etc.) identify their core values, and the client (explored/was reluctant to explore/etc.) how they can incorporate these values into their life to enhance personal sense of meaning.

Meditation/Mindfulness strategy of the week

• Finding your Authentic Self Meditation Exercise

• Sample Progress Note: The focus of this session was… The therapist led a mindfulness activity (Finding your Authentic Self Meditation). Ct. (engaged/did not engage in the activity), and they reported that the mindfulness activity was (helpful/difficult/not helpful).

This guided imagery script will help you explore your values and connect with your authentic self. Use this relaxation technique to get in touch with your true self, live up to your full potential, and live according to your true identity in day-to-day life.
Begin by getting comfortable. You may want to sit or lie down. Close your eyes or focus your gaze on one spot in the room.
Start to relax your body, beginning with your feet. Allow a feeling of relaxation to fill your feet…feeling heavy, loose, and relaxed. Relax your ankles…lower legs…and knees.
Allow the relaxation to continue, relaxing your upper legs. Let the muscles of your legs completely let go…feeling very heavy and relaxed.
Relax your hips and pelvis, and all the surrounding muscles. Feel your stomach and lower back relaxing…the muscles giving up their hold.
Feel the relaxation in your chest, back, and sides…feeling very relaxed…very heavy.
Let your hands relax, all the way from your fingertips to your wrists. Feel your lower arms relaxing…letting go. Relax your elbows and upper arms…loose and heavy.
Relax your shoulders, feeling them lowering slightly…finding a comfortable, relaxed position…free from tension…
Allow the muscles of your neck to relax…letting go…and relax your face and head.
Feel your entire body relaxing even more deeply…becoming completely relaxed…limp…heavy…comfortable.
Now turn your attention inward…even more deeply inside…to find your authentic self.
Begin by reflecting upon your values. What is the most important to you in life? What do you value? Where does your sense of right and wrong come from? Spend the next few moments thinking about your values.
The values you have been thinking of make-up part of the core of who you are. If you are being true to your values, these core beliefs will drive your behavior.
It feels good to behave in ways that are consistent with your values. For example, if honesty is something you value, this could be reflected in your life by being truthful. If you value your family, perhaps your life reflects this in the time you spend with family members.
Think about how your values can be a part of your day-to-day life.
Now consider what else makes you who you are. Finding your authentic self involves learning who you truly are. Your authentic self is the real you, the person you are truly meant to be. Your authentic self is the person you are the core, the person you can be if nothing holds you back.
Imagine the person you believe yourself to be right now. It is okay if you are not quite sure who you are…just picture yourself going about the things you usually do in a typical day. Imagine that you are watching yourself…observing yourself going about your usual activities.
See yourself getting up in the morning…going about your day…imagine the things that you do in a typical day. See yourself doing these activities.
Picture this person…you…standing in an empty room. Imagine watching this person…observe…now imagine you could strip away all the things that hold you back from your full potential. Imagine self-doubt dissolving…being replaced with confidence and self-assurance. Picture this person before you, and imagine all the things that get in the way of success…such as circumstances, lack of resources, lack of forgiveness, illness, baggage from the past…anything that is holding this person back in any way at all…
See these problems dissolving…disappearing…going away…
Now imagine this person, standing in the empty room. What is left? Who is this person when all those barriers are stripped away?
This person is you. Imagine who you are at the core…the pure character that is left when there is nothing to get in the way of complete self-expression.
You may only have a vague picture in your mind right now…let’s allow that picture to come into focus…becoming more clear…
Think of your motivations…what motivates you? What drives your behavior? What catches your interest…or has caught your interest in the past? What propels you to action?
Think about your personality and character traits…the characteristics that are left when all barriers are removed, and all fears have gone away. At your fullest potential, your simplest form…with no fears…what traits do you have? Think about your energy…are you laid back and calm, or are you energetic? Think about your other characteristics…
Are you introverted or extroverted?
Quiet or talkative?
Are you creative?
Are you practical?
What sorts of things do you appreciate?
What do you admire?
What do you like?
Imagine something that makes you feel happy…what is it?
Think of some things you enjoy…things that you like to do…
Think about all the characteristics of the person who is left when all barriers and fears are removed.
Now let’s create a different picture. Imagine yourself as a young child, in a happy moment. See the potential in this child. Who is this young person? What makes this child who he or she is?
Think about the characteristics that you share with this child. In what ways are you similar? In what ways does the current you, differ from this child? Think about how you have learned and grown since the time you were a small child.
Now picture yourself as the child…see the world through your younger self’s eyes.
What did you want to be when you grew up? What hopes did you have for your future self? What dreams did you have as a child?
The hopes and dreams you had as a child were probably related in some way to your authentic self. Something about your dreams was connected to a part of your true self. What do these aspirations say about who you are? What personal characteristics of yours are related to your childhood dreams?
For example, if as a child you dreamed about becoming an astronaut, you probably have some personality traits that relate to this dream…such as being adventurous, curious, analytical…
Think about your own childhood dreams and see what these dreams say about who you are.
Now create one final picture in your mind. Imagine, in as much detail as you can, the person you want to be. Imagine your ideal self…
How would this person behave? What does this person, your authentic self, value? What motivates this ideal self? What personal characteristics are present in this ideal version of you? Imagine all the details of the person you most want to be.
The image in your mind right now, of this ideal person, is you. This is your authentic self. This is who you are. At the core, beneath all of life’s getting in the way…this is you.
Spend a few moments with this image of your authentic self.
Now allow yourself to step inside this image, and fully become this person. Become who you are. For this moment, just be…simply be your authentic self.
Feel a sense of calm and serenity…secure in who you are…knowing who you are. This is you. Your authentic self.
You can take this authentic self with you…allowing this true essence of you to shine through in everyday life. Allow your values, personality, and motivations to shine though…to guide your behavior…to make up who you are.
You have always been this person…you always will be your authentic self…a positive, confident person. A person you like and appreciate. Underneath the challenges, the baggage, the demands of living life…this is the real you that will always be with you.
It is time to reawaken now…to conclude this relaxation exercise…
Keep the image of your authentic self with you as you go about the rest of your day. Express this true self…and allow you to simply be you.
Wiggle your fingers, waking up your hands and arms…
Move your toes, allowing your feet and legs to wake up…
Feel your muscles reawakening…and your whole-body filling with energy.
Open your eyes and sit quietly for a moment while you reorient to your surroundings…
When you are completely awake and alert, you can return to your usual activities, feeling confident and calm, in touch with your authentic self.

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