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Shout Out to the VIA Youth Strengths Survey


We often focus on identifying and building on strengths in our newsletters; however, usually it is related to our work with adults. This newsletter will launch our summer series of newsletters on working with children, teens and young adults. This month we’ve asked a youth consultant to review a free assessment of strengths called the Values in Action Survey for Youth (click here to access it). Tabitha, age 17, agreed (after some pleading on our part) to complete and review the assessment for us. Below she recounts her experience.

Hi everyone. I’m Tabitha. I’m seventeen and a senior in high school. Recently, Gioia and Rebecca recommended that I take the VIA youth decoder survey to learn more about my strengths. It sounded like a great chance to learn about myself. My top results were gratitude, humor, creativity, appreciation of beauty, and kindness. Gratitude surprised me a lot because I never think of myself as someone that is strengthened specifically in gratitude. Of course, I am extremely grateful for the life I have, I just don’t associate myself with gratitude. For those of you who know my mom, Gioia, surprise, you know she kind of dominates the gratitude field, so I always thought of gratitude as her thing only. The survey helped to open my eyes to the fact that it is also one of my strengths.

I felt the same way about appreciation of beauty. I think because my mom is so verbal and expressive about those strengths, I don’t associate them with myself, even though I feel them. If that made any sense? The results of the survey made me realize how much I appreciate my life. While those first strengths surprised me, humor did not. I always think of myself as a very funny person. Sarcasm and irony are my best friends.

I decided to pay an extra ten dollars for “You: Decoded”, a more thorough explanation of the results, to see if it added anything to what was already a pretty useful description of my strengths.

The report delved into the opportunities that the strengths provided and the benefits from the strengths that I didn’t even know I had. The descriptions were very thorough and even gave recommendations of songs and movies that aligned with each of my strengths. It also described ways that I could improve upon my ‘lesser strengths’. I thought that was very helpful to shed light on how to ‘better’ myself and strengthen my lesser traits.

Although I liked those features, I did not think that the You: Decoded report was worth ten dollars. I found the descriptions slightly superficial and generic instead of unique to my results specifically. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I wished that the report had been a bit more specific to the combination of my strengths. For example, I hoped it would say, ‘your strength of gratitude combines with your strengths of creativity and humor to make you very…’. In light of this, Gioia and Rebecca advised me to make artwork about how my strengths work together.

Overall, I thought that the free VIA Youth survey was very helpful. It made me realize just how grateful I am for my life and how much I appreciate the beauty within it. If you have kids my age, I strongly recommend that you have them take the survey because the results might just surprise them. If you don’t mind spending ten dollars, then the You: Decoded portion could also be beneficial.

For kids who take it, the most important tip is to be extremely honest. There are some questions like, ‘would you stand up for someone getting bullied?’ and if you know yourself and you honestly wouldn’t, then put that as the answer. I know it’s not pleasant to mark, but answering questions completely honestly is the best way to get the most accurate results. I would even recommend that when you take the survey, you make sure that you are alone. I took it a few years ago with my mom and I kind of felt an obligation to say that I’d stand up for people being bullied or that I would never lie to for my own gains. When, in actuality, I wouldn’t necessarily stand up for someone and I would one hundred percent lie for my own gain.

Wow, it seems like this review has taken a turn… and completely discredited me. But, this is my honest review of the survey. I truly recommend that if you know any teens, have them take it. As a teen, I’m still rocking that whole cliché trying-to-figure-out-who-I-am thing, and this survey certainly helped with that.

We thank Tabitha for this instructive review. We hope you also found it useful. If so, let us know on our FB page. In keeping with our commitment to provide you with free downloadable resources, here is our handout on strengths. You can use it for yourself or with kids!

Positively Yours, Tabitha, Gioia, and Rebecca 

Art Directive
Try taking the VIA for yourself and then create a piece of artwork that illustrates your signature strengths.  You could make a mixed media piece like Tabitha did, or a collage or an assemblage sculpture, combining odds and ends from around the house into a symbolic self-portrait of you, at your best.  Try writing in a journal after you make your art, to explore what it all means.  What speaks to you the most about your artwork? Which part most draws your eye, sticks out, or shows contrast?  Which part are you most curious about?  Did you discover any surprises in the process?  Let us know!