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Integrative Psychiatry

Behavior Transformation: Values and Purpose By Keith Kurlander, MA, LPC

By September 1, 2020November 18th, 2020No Comments

The field of axiology is the study of values delving into the realm of ethical values of society as well as categorizing aesthetics understanding what is beautiful and ugly in a person’s individual perspective.

The hierarchy of values dictates what is most important in your life simply put what you do that does not need any motivational factors. Opposite of that are the least things you would want to do wherein you have to get dragged in order to get it done.

This list is so extensive that no one in the world have the exact same hierarchy of values as you do similar to having your own DNA blueprint where there is no other copy but yours.

Feeling low-worth while doing something that is of high value to you is relatively impossible. What is important for us to fulfill, is something that comes from the emptiest place inside of us which in turn gives us the value of self-worth by doing it.

High self-esteem gives us an inflated sense of self making us believe that what we value is more important than the people around us, although in the game of self-esteem we tend to compare ourselves and put others in a high pedestal which now makes us take in their values into ourselves which creates low self-esteem.


The discussion of values comes from a little-known term called the field of axiology. It’s a little-known term that was way more known, actually in the field of psychiatry about 50 years ago. axiology very simply as the study of values, classical inquiries go very far back to Greek philosophy and that’s more into the realm of ethics, what’s ethical, what’s an ethical value in society? Also, aesthetics, how does an individual categorized as something as beautiful or ugly to them?

At the top is the thing that’s most important in your life. It’s the thing that no one would ever have to twist your arm to do. You would get out of bed in the morning and you’d go do it because it’s the most important thing to you. So that’s the highest value at the bottom is your lowest value, it’s the thing that you would literally have to be dragged to get to do it, and you really don’t want to do it. Now, this list is extensive in your mind, because there’s so many values, there’s so much in your value structure, there’s so many different values that are getting operational in the world at all times. So, because this list is so extensive and probably moving towards an infinite amount of values, if we get into deep detail, minutia no one in this room has the exact blueprint as the person sitting next to you. The person sitting next to you value something, different than you do, no matter what. And your unique blueprint is like your DNA. It’s you, it’s only you, no one will ever share it.

So where do values come from? Where is that most important thing coming from that you would get out of bed for? Well, it comes from the thing that you perceive as most missing inside of you. The thing that’s most important to us to fulfill is the thing that we need to fulfill inside of us the most because it’s the empty is place.

Self-worth is felt when you’re actualizing, your highest value. You cannot be actualizing what’s most important to you, in that moment that you are expressing what’s most important to you, and you’re going after it, you cannot feel low worth in that moment because it’s the thing that you derive the most value out of. High self-esteem isn’t inflated sense of self.  When we get into an inflated sense of self, we believe our values and what’s important to us is better than the people around us. This is all comparison game self-esteem. Now what comes up must go down, because eventually, you’re going to compare yourself to another person’s values that you’re going to put on a pedestal, if you’re in the self-esteem game, and go, “Oh my god, I’m not doing what they’re doing. I wish I was further along”. That’s the, that’s the key thought, I wish I was like them or further along or, you know, in my life, that’s the key thought right there. And now you’re taking in their values into yourself and now you’re going into low self-esteem, and this is just an important concept to hold.

When we are in congruency with our highest values, which means that when we are acting on our highest values, we’re in accordance with them. When all those lower values are linked to them to a high degree. We’re really in a high level of executive functioning. So we’re in a high level of self-regulation, we have a high level of attention, we’re focused, we have a high level of inhibition. So inhibitiatory processes in the brain and a high level most importantly of strategic planning. The key to behavior changes that behavior is most adaptable, disciplined, strategic, flexible, spontaneous, and easiest to modify in pursuit of your purpose. Because it’s the thing you must care about. So, you’d be willing to go after it.

Frederick Barrett is a cognitive neuroscientist with training in behavioral pharmacology, and the Associate Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research. Dr. Barrett has been conducting psychedelic research at Johns Hopkins University since 2013, and his research in healthy participants and in patients with mood and substance use disorders focuses on the psychological and neurological mechanisms underlying the enduring therapeutic and other effects of psychedelic drugs. In 2017, he received an NIH “R03” grant as Principal Investigator to investigate biological mechanisms of psilocybin effects, the first federally funded research since the 1970s administering a classic psychedelic to people with psychedelic effects as the primary focus. He has developed measures of subjective effects of psychedelic drugs, and has also published first-in-human studies characterizing the acute and enduring effects of psilocybin on the brain. He is currently leading clinical trials to investigate the use of psilocybin to treat patients with major depressive disorder and co-occurring alcohol use disorder, and he is leading a number of ongoing studies aimed at better understanding the psychological, biological, and neural mechanisms underlying therapeutic efficacy of psychedelic drugs.

Will Van Derveer, MD is co-founder of Integrative Psychiatry Institute (IPI), along with friend and colleague Keith Kurlander, MA. He co-created IPI as an expression of what he stands for. First, that anyone can heal, and second that we medical providers must embrace our own healing journeys in order to fully command our potency as healers.

Dr. Van Derveer spent the last 20 years innovating and testing a comprehensive approach to addressing psychiatric challenges which transcends the conventional model he learned in medical school at Vanderbilt University and residency at University of Colorado, while deeply engaging his own healing path.

He founded the Integrative Psychiatric Healing Center in in 2001 in Boulder, CO, where he currently practices. Dr. Van Derveer regards unresolved emotional trauma as the most significant root cause of psychiatric symptoms in integrative psychiatry practice, along with gut issues, hormone imbalances, inflammation, mitochondrial dysfunction, and other functional medicine challenges. He is trained in Somatic Experiencing, EMDR, Internal Family Systems, and other psychotherapy techniques. His current clinical passion is psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, which he mentors interested doctors in providing. An avid meditator, he has been a meditation instructor since 2004.

For the past several years Dr. Van Derveer has taught psychiatrists and other psychiatric providers integrative psychiatry in a number of settings, including course directing the CU psychiatry residents’ course as well as with Scott Shannon and Janet Settle at the Psychiatry MasterClass. In addition to his clinical work and teaching, he was co-investigator in 2016 a Phase II randomized clinical trial, sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). He continues to support this protocol, now in a Phase III clinical trial under break-through designation by FDA.

Dr. Van Derveer is a diplomate of the American Board of Integrative and Holistic Medicine (ABoIHM) since 2013, and he was board certified in the first wave of diplomates of the new American Board of Integrative Medicine (ABIM) in 2016.