Module 11: young people and drugs - issues for workers: learner's workbook

3.3 Personal values in the workplace

Page last updated: 2004

Not only can our values impact on the young people with whom we work, they can also impact on our relationships with other workers.

Case study - right and wrong
Case study scenario - managing personal reactions to work situations
Personal reflection
Distance learners

Case study - right and wrong

You are working in a government run youth health centre. Your boss has a strong belief in religion and has definite ideas about right and wrong, sin and guilt. She frequently requests that meetings start with a prayer and quotes the Bible to try and instil the fear of damnation into the young people with whom you work.

She believes that abstinence from using AOD is the only way to be 'free' of AOD problems and that this should be the goal of all interventions with young people.


Question - Would you be able to have an effective relationship with this person?

Question - What values does this example bring up for you?

Question - How might your boss's attitude impact on young people?

Question - How would you manage this conflict?

It can sometimes be difficult to recognise when we are projecting our own values on to others. It is often easier to notice when this is happening with our co-workers.

Case study scenario - managing personal reactions to work situations

You are in a case meeting with another worker discussing the situation of a 15-year-old client who has just been thrown out of home because of her drug use. She has been your client for about one year and you feel you know her well. The other worker has suggested that you should try to reconcile this young woman with her parents but you feel reluctant to do this.

Your client is confused and not sure what she should do. You insist that things be given time to settle down before any action is taken. Your co-worker believes that something should be done as soon as possible. You spend all night worrying about the client and ring your co-worker early the next morning to discuss this case. You become angry with your co-worker when she suggests that maybe your ongoing poor relationship with your parents is influencing your decision. Top of page


  • Ask a colleague about their thoughts on the above scenario and discuss if possible.
  • Describe in a few lines what you think is happening for you as 'the worker' in the above situation.

Personal reflection

(Write your answers, then check the possible answers page.)

Question - How can you tell if you are projecting your values?

Question - Do you have any particular physical or emotional reactions that might indicate that you are over-involved in a case or not thinking objectively? (e.g. sleeplessness, stomach aches, being pre-occupied with a particular case, being defensive, losing your cool.)

Question - Can you identify any issues that invoke strong or intense reactions for you?

Question - Can you think of any strategies to help you recognise when you might be taking too much on board emotionally?

Question - What action could you take to manage these situations?

With colleagues or other workers, discuss your ideas for managing situations where your values might be impacting on your work.


  • We all have personal values and attitudes that can impact significantly on the way we work with young people.
  • Conflicts of interest are a normal part of human interactions and the key is to handle them in a professional, respectful way.
  • Reflecting upon our values and attitudes can assist us develop strategies to manage work with young people.
  • The nature of work with young AOD users can evoke emotional and personal responses.
  • Developing strategies for managing those responses is critical both for yourself and for the quality and effectiveness of your work with young people.

Distance learners

(A good point for student to contact facilitator.)

Distance learners should take time now to reflect on their learning, check in with their facilitator and determine their progress.