Values Elicitation

Values Elicitation

Mrs B had lived most of her life in the centre of the city and loved it. But now, her children were grown and married, her husband had died, and her arthritis was hampering her movements. She had often complained that her house where she had lived for nearly forty years was too small for her growing family, but now that she was living on her own, it was too large and the stairs were difficult to manage.

Her daughter had finally persuaded her to move to a retirement home about an hour’s drive away on the edge of a small village. She could have her own two rooms there, and live as independently as she wanted with the option to have help when she needed it. In addition, the place ran regular coach trips into the city with trips to the theatre and other such outings.

Mrs B thought that this was a very sensible move, and agreed. However, after a month she complained that she wasn’t happy there, yet she couldn’t pinpoint the reason.  She agreed that living on one level was good, she enjoyed the companionship, and she liked the country surroundings. But she was still wishing she hadn’t moved, or that she could move back to her old house. This would have been possible as the house had not yet been sold, but the purchase price of her residential unit was costly and non-refundable.  Even so, Mrs B was thinking of it and her daughter was in despair.

When Mrs B came to see me, I ran a process with her called ‘Values Elicitation.’ It is a very straightforward process once you learn it, and I utilised it in an effort to find the root cause of Mrs B’s distress, even though, as she agreed, there was a great deal to like about the place. I asked her to list, in any order, everything that was important to her.

“That won’t work,” she said. ”I have tried that, listing what I want, putting things in order of importance, then changing the list around.”

I intervened, and ran the process:

“Is A more important than B?” Then when E became more important than A, I moved on to the next stage. Initially, she was somewhat impatient with this, but I was able to help her settle into the process. Eventually, I came up with her list of priorities. Much to her surprise, the results suggested that her most important priority was the large, dark and somewhat impractical antique furniture that she had had to leave behind. We discussed this and she uncovered that so many of the pieces held very dear memories for her that she felt lost and homesick without them.  Fortunately, they had not yet been sold.

The pieces were large, and there were too many of them to fit into her new rooms, but very sensibly, her daughter convinced her to take on the moderate expense of swapping to a large unit, with three rooms instead of two, where she could house more of her furniture, pointing out that the cost of this would be a lot less than moving back into the city, and could easily be covered by the eventual sale of the house.

All was arranged. Mrs B moved into the three-room unit.  The compact and efficient furniture that it came with was moved out. Then, they brought in as many pieces of her bulkier antique furniture that they could fit.  The place was darker and more crowded, but Mrs B was a lot happier and settled down without further distress. Her last words to me?

“I would never have known that my furniture and things were so important, or that the lack of them was the reason I wanted to go back to town instead of settling here if you hadn’t run that strange set of questions. Thank you.”


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