Purchase an assessment, retrieve your results, or continue where you left off:
As you take this easy-to-use tool, formulated from neuroscience,
performance research, clinical findings and many other sources, the
TPRAT will help you determine your current proficiency level with
the four “Life Capacities.” Life Capacities are abilities that make
up your personal character. Character is defined as that set of
capacities required to meet the demands of reality.
Life has a number of demands on us: how to conduct our
relationships, marriage, dating, parenting, self-care, career and
finances, for example. As we improve our character development via
the four Life Capacities, we are more equipped for success in all
aspects of our lives.
To further determine areas of self-improvement, we encourage you to
engage in the targeted Growth Skills. With these tools, you will be
able to generate a roadmap for reaching your next level.
The capacity to be open and vulnerable with others, and to
elicit vulnerability and trust in others.
The capacity to be clear about what you are for and against,
own your voice, say no when you need to, and confront
The capacity to deal well with the negative and difficult
aspects of life, such as loss and failure. You are able to adapt
to them, and grieve losses in healthy ways, without
self-judgment or entitlement.
The capacity to relate to others from a mutual adult stance,
rather than a child, adolescent or parent stance, and also to
find and follow your life purpose, developing your talents to
These Capacities are essential for emotional well-being, great
relationships as well as family and vocational success.
The TPRAT will give you a score number (1-10) for each Capacity
that corresponds to a certain level of growth. In this way, you will
have four scores, knowing where you stand in each Capacity, and
where growth is needed. Here are the scores and levels:
A score of 1 - 2
A score of 3 - 5
A score of 6 - 8
A score of 9 - 10
In each level of each Life Capacity, you will see four Growth
Skills, each of which are organized into specific categories, one
skill per category, to help you improve and move to higher levels.
Your brain grows and thrives on the right kinds of data,
thoughts, conversations and experiences. Here are the categories
that help it grow.
A review of helpful facts and principles that we provide, which
will inform you.
A specific query to which you may respond by writing a paragraph or
two, or a list of responses. Make sure you share these thoughts and
experiences with a supportive person or group. This will make all
A specific talk with someone who is supportive of you, will be
truthful with you, and is also interested in self-improvement. If
the person is more skilled than you in this area, so much the
better. Feel free to have the conversation with more than one
person. We can’t overemphasize the benefits of asking a few friends
and associates for their involvement and help in your
self-improvement work in the TPRAT skills.
A new and better way to behave, talk, choose and relate.
So, for each score in each of the four “Life Capacities”, you will
have four skills in which to develop. This gives you a total of 16
different targeted skills in your report.
This is not a comprehensive list of skills. There are any number of
other possible exercises that a person can engage in to grow.
However, these skills will accomplish a great deal to get you where
you want to go. Ask a coach or mentor for additional skills to help
you. Also, Hiding from Love
by Dr. John Townsend (Zondervan Publishing, 1991) and Changes that Heal
by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend (Zondervan Publishing,
1990) contain some additional skills for the four Life
The levels of the TPRAT are built on each other. That is, for a
person to be Proficient (a score of 9 to 10) in the Capacity of
Boundaries, it helps a great deal for them to have accomplished what
is necessary on the earlier levels of Starting Off (a score of 1 to
2), Intermediate (a score of 3 to 5) and Adequate (a score of 6 to
8) in Boundaries. It will be worth your while to review all of the
levels, to see if there is work to be done at an earlier level to
help you move ahead.
Neuroscience research teaches us that our brains operate better in
the context of a relationship. In every area of life, we are better
off connected than isolated. We recommend you ask a few people to
help you in this process, not only in the “growth conversation”
Growth Skill, but all four skill categories. Talk with them about
all of these. We have found that having supportive individuals in
your life will accelerate your rate of progress. We strongly suggest
you invite trusted friends, mentors and coaches to help you in this
process. Safe People
by Dr. John Townsend and Dr. Henry Cloud (Zondervan Publishing,
1995) is a good resource to help you find the right
Engage in the skills often, meaning several times a week, if at all
possible. They weren’t designed to be “one and done.” Just like
participating in a sport, learning to play a musical instrument or
mastering a business skill, it’s all about repetition and
Regular journaling will accelerate your growth as well. Whether you
write in a physical journal or use a digital format, your mind will
retain, change and use the information you record. Make this a
habit, if not daily, at least three times a week.
You will find that some of these skills may be a bit uncomfortable.
This is normal, as you will discover areas of growth that haven’t
had lot of exposure for you. Don’t push yourself so hard that it
negatively affects how you relate and function, but stay in the
“growth zone” and out of the “comfort zone.”
Remember also that personal growth is an oven, not a microwave.
Just as our bodies take time to get into shape and overcome deficits
and injuries, our brains don’t change immediately. Be patient with
yourself and think of these levels in a “lifetime of continuous
improvement” way. We will always be working on some aspect of these
skills. Depending on your situation, a particularly challenging
level change may take months or even years. Don’t worry about it;
just keep working on the areas. Investing in your growth and
self-improvement will always pay off.
This area has to do with how developed you are in the area of
personal attachments, both with others and with yourself. It
encompasses how effectively and vulnerably you can relate, and how
in touch you are with your emotions and needs, as well as with the
vulnerabilities of others. Emotions and needs such as acceptance,
validation of our experiences, encouragement and perspective are the
critical keys to developing great relationships. Individuals with
high levels of achievement in the Bonding Capacity find that they
have a healthy set of people in their lives with whom they can
connect on deep, sustained and meaningful levels.
The Starting Off level indicates that this is a new or even
difficult arena of life for you. You may tend to be much more aware
of your thoughts and opinions than you are your emotions and
relational needs. You also may tend to have difficulty being
vulnerable and trusting other people, and may tend to isolate from
others. Don't be discouraged; this is an indicator that you have a
target growth area in which we will help you develop the right
Familiarize yourself with the lists of emotions provided in
this manual. They will provide a framework and language for
growing in Bonding.
Write down a one-paragraph answer to the question, “What in my
history might have made it difficult for me to identify and
understand my own emotions and relational needs?”
Ask someone you trust to talk about their personal feelings
(especially painful ones) and their own relational needs. Have
them describe them for you in depth, so you can develop your
mental template for what this is like.
The Intermediate level indicates that you are aware of your
internal world. You know what you feel at any given time, whether it
be positive or negative. You also have an idea of what you need from
others, to help you move along in life. However, bringing these
matters to others in a satisfying way may have been difficult for
you. You want to move toward the next level, which is the ability to
express “who you are” to others in a way that creates fulfilling
connections with other supportive and positive people.
Read Chapter 2: "The Phantom Mom" in Our Mothers, Ourselves
by Dr. Henry Cloud and by Dr. John Townsend (Zondervan
Write a paragraph on what life experiences you may have had
that influenced you away from bringing emotions and needs to
Have a conversation in which you bring a difficult emotion or
relational need to the person, without them giving advice. Get
their feedback on what it is like for them to have you become
that open and vulnerable.
In a conversation about your emotions and needs, take note of
any reactions you have to deflect the other person’s acceptance
and warmth. You may observe, for example, that you change the
subject, or ask them about themselves, or think “I don’t deserve
this.” Don’t worry about it; just realize that you are doing it.
This observation will help you take in and experience the good
the other person is offering you, and will become more natural
The Adequate level shows that you can bring your internal world to
other people in a way that works for both of you. Without a great
deal of anxiety or self-judgment, you can talk about your experience
with others, and ask for what you need, and the conversation goes
well for both of you. The skills below will help you move toward the
next level, which is the ability to authentically understand the
experiences and feelings of others in a mutual way.
Read Chapter 3: “Connecting: Bridging the
Gap” in Loving People
by Dr. John Townsend (Thomas Nelson Publishing, 2007).
Write your paragraph on three skills you learned that are
helping you to hear others better, and at a deeper and more
Talk to someone who you have found to be a great empathic
listener, and ask them how they do what they do. Most people are
happy to provide insights into this important skill.
Practice with someone on simply actively listening well to
their experience. It could be a 10-minute conversation, and it
could be much longer. Let them know you are working on listening
in your personal growth, and you need their help to learn this
skill. Have them bring up a personal or professional challenge
they are experiencing. Then, using the information from the
recommended book section, the growth conversation, and any other
sources, be there for them. Use eye contact, warmth,
authenticity and supportive statements to help. After that, ask
for their honest feedback on how the experience was from their
perspective so that you can improve. This is more skill than
The Proficient level indicates that you are comfortable in
understanding others, and are receiving positive feedback from them
in this ability. You readily “hit the bullseye” in helping others
feel known and understood, and you feel you are helping them in this
area. You are also comfortable when you are alone, having lots of
internal security from the great experiences you have had with
people who care deeply for you. Here are the skills to help you
maintain your growth at this level.
Read Chapter 7: “What Matters Most” in How to Be a Best Friend Forever
by Dr. John Townsend (Worthy Publishing, 2011).
Write your paragraph on your interest and passion in helping
others develop their relational skills. From where does the
interest come? How does it affect you to see individuals grow
and change in this area?
Talk with someone who has helped you develop in your relational
life. Ask them what strengths and challenges they observe in
you, to focus you on how you need to complete your toolbox in
Apply this skill in your normal everyday life, not in a
“practicing” way, but in a real-life way. This might mean
concentrating on bonding with your kids on their level, not
yours; having conversations with your spouse or a dating
relationship in which you enter their world and help draw them
out; use opportunities at work to simply actively listen and
tune in to people for a few minutes, instead of always giving
The word “boundaries” refers to the capacity to be one’s own
person. People who have healthy boundaries not only care about
others, but have made up their minds about who they are, what they
want, and what they don’t want. They can set effective limits to
maintain control over their life, time and energy. They have their
voice. They take the initiative to go after what is important to
them. They have structure and focus. And they know how to confront
well when those conversations are necessary.
The Starting Off level indicates that you tend to “go along to get
along” with others and avoid conflict. You care about others but can
end up enabling them. You may have difficulty paying attention to
your own needs, and not setting boundaries when you should. It may
be difficult to have a “voice” and confront others. The skills below
will help you grow in this area.
Read Chapter 2: “What Does a Boundary Look
Like?” and Chapter 4, “How Boundaries are Developed” in Boundaries: Updated and Expanded Edition
by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend (Zondervan
Write your paragraph on what happened in your life that
influenced you away from having your self-definition, voice and
clarity in your relationships.
Ask a trusted person who “gets it” about the benefits of being
separate, how they experience your ability to define yourself,
have a voice, say “no” and confront. Ask them to provide you
with a word picture on how they would envision you as a person
with good separateness. How would they describe the “you” as a
healthy separate person?
The next several personal or professional conversations you
find yourself in, take note of how often you give up yourself,
lose your voice, don’t disagree with or adapt to whatever they
need you to be. Noticing how often you find yourself
“people-pleasing” is a great incentive to help you change.
Individuals at the Intermediate level can both understand and
experience where they begin and where they end. You have clarity
about differentiating between the feelings and needs of others, and
your own. You know what you like and dislike, and what you are “for”
and “against.” However, it is often difficult for you to be honest
with others when you need to tell them no, disappoint an expectation
of theirs, or disagree. Improving these skills will help you grow in
Read Chapter 5: “Ten Laws of Boundaries”
and Chapter 6: “Common Boundary Myths” in
Boundaries: Updated and Expanded Edition
by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend (Zondervan
Write your paragraph on the top three concerns or fears you
have that have kept you from setting limits, being direct and
being honest with others.
Bring your three Personal Insight concerns into a conversation
with a trusted person, asking them how they themselves may have
dealt with these fears.
Say “no” in a respectful way, every day for a week. It can be
about having a different opinion than a colleague on a work
project, letting your spouse or date know that you aren’t
available for a time they’d like to be with you, or telling a
friend you don’t agree with their viewpoint on a cultural
Those at the Adequate level can define and clarify themselves well
in relationships. You can say “no” when you need to, and feel the
freedom to be who you are, and have the efficacy to make needed
changes. However, you have more difficulty taking the initiative to
seek out someone with which to have a difficult conversation. The
skills below will help you grow further in your development.
Read Part 2: “The Essentials of a Good
Conversation” in How to Have That Difficult Conversation You’ve Been Avoiding
by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend (Zondervan
Write your paragraph on why it is harder for you to confront
than to say “no,” and also the benefits of learning the skill of
Role-play a confrontational conversation with a supportive
person. Have your friend play an actual person in your life with
whom you’re having problems saying "no." Practice your newly
learned skills. You and your friend can then talk about how it
went, and how you can keep improving.
Confront someone respectfully, twice in a week. It might be
someone in your personal life who has behavior that you find
difficult or hurtful. It might be someone at work whose attitude
negatively affects performance. It just might be someone you
want to straighten out a problem with so that you can resume the
People at the Proficient level are “secure in their skin.” You can
shift from “no” to “yes” with ease and without stress. When others
ask you to invest your time, energy and resources to help them in
some way, and you choose to do so, you do it freely and without
fear, resentment or guilt. You also take the initiative to pursue
your interests and goals without feeling selfish. The skills below
will help you maintain this level of growth.
Read Chapter 1: “You Can Own Your Own Life”
in It’s Not My Fault
by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend (Thomas Nelson
Write your paragraph on how you will NEVER go back to a life of
fear, compliance and enabling!
Talk to a supportive person about what they have noticed in
your growth, and what they like about this part of you, even the
“truth-telling” part. It is a sign of a healthy person that they
appreciate your boundaries, and don’t resent you for them.
Put yourself in a normally difficult context in your work or
personal life. For example, perhaps someone who constantly
controls the conversation, or persists in asking you for time
and energy you don’t have, or someone who is constantly critical
of you, or trying to fix you. Instead of avoiding that person,
let them do whatever they do (as long as they aren’t dangerous)
and then just say, “Sorry, that doesn’t work for me” or “I need
to let you know that the way you’re talking to me isn’t OK with
me,” and go ahead and have the conversation. Be kind, but hold
on firmly to your boundaries. It will truly be a “stretch,” but
you will come away more confident because you have dealt well
with an important Boundary Buster in your life.
Life is full of positive aspects, such as love, happiness and
fulfillment. Unfortunately, it is also full of negatives, such as
failure, loss and mistreatment by others. Successful people have a
positive attitude, but at the same time, they never avoid the
negative realities of life either. The Life Capacity of Reality
helps people be aware that if they deny or avoid the negative, life
gets worse, not better. They don’t get stuck in self-judgment or
perfectionism. They adapt to difficulties, and know how to grieve
losses in healthy ways. They give up all attitudes of entitlement.
People with this Capacity know how to think, how to feel and what to
do, to learn and grow from the hardships of life.
Those at the Starting Off level often have trouble dealing with the
three fundamental negative realities: failure, losses and
mistreatment. You know these things are real and have happened to
you, but you have not been given adequate skills to resolve them. As
a consequence, you may struggle with perfectionism, feeling
overwhelmed in difficulty, or avoidance of the negative altogether.
The skills below will help you achieve a better level of growth in
Read Chapter 6: “Our Need for Resolving Good
and Bad” in Hiding from Love by Dr.
Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend (Zondervan Publishing, 1991).
Instead of a paragraph, make a list with three columns. In the
first column, write the times you have failed significantly in
your life. In the second, the significant losses you have
experienced. In the third, the significant mistreatments you
have undergone from others. It will be painful work, but this
process will make it worth the effort in your growth.
Ask someone whom you believe deals well with the negatives in
life without dismissing them, and, if they can be vulnerable
about this, how they deal with them.
In this more “stretching” conversation, talk to a supportive
person about your list of negative realities. Tell them how you
believe they may have impacted your life. Then ask them to give
you feedback on how they think and feel about you, knowing what
they now know about you. You must use care and discretion with
whomever you choose for this conversation, as it must be safe
and confidential, with no judgment whatsoever.
An Intermediate score level indicates that you can face, admit and
identify the significant negative realities in your life, without
either minimizing or being disrupted by, the objective facts of
these experiences. You are also aware of how the negatives impacted
your life. This is a major step in this Life Capacity. The skills
below will help you move to the next level.
Read Chapter 14: “Face the Pain That Gets
You Somewhere” in The Entitlement Cure
by Dr. John Townsend (Zondervan Publishing, 2015).
In your paragraph, write a list of the following key terms that
describe ineffective coping styles to negative realities:
Note which of these you tend to use habitually. Write also
about how they have failed you in happiness, relationships or
Talk to a supportive person about these coping styles and ask
them which of them they have also defaulted toward, and how they
have grown past them.
Role-play with someone, the coping styles you have used with
negative realities. Set up a mock conversation about failure,
loss or mistreatment. Simply have the other person play a friend
who has heard about your difficult situation, and is concerned
and asking you how you are doing. Then enact the style. For
example, if you tend toward minimization, have your friend say,
“I’m so sorry you were laid off. I know with young kids and a
mortgage that’s got to be tough.” Then you might say, “Oh,
losing my job isn’t all that bad, it’s just a great
opportunity!” This will help you experience how these styles
simply aren’t about reality, and also don’t get you
People at the Adequate level are aware of the coping styles that
have not been helpful for them in dealing with negative realities.
You are also working on moving past them. These styles include
denial, minimizing, working harder, self-judgment and shaming
oneself, blame and entitlement attitudes. You are giving these
styles up, because they simply don’t work, and you are renouncing
them. The next set of skills will now help you navigate to a higher
Read Chapter 11: “No Pain, No Gain: The Role
of Suffering and Grief” in How People Grow
by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend (Zondervan
Write in your paragraph the major healthy ways of dealing with
List which ones come easily for you, and which ones are more of
a growth challenge.
Talk to a safe, supportive and mature person about their
understanding of the difference between forgiving and being
forgiven. Ask them how they handle the two.
People who are proficient in the Life Capacity of Reality can
let go of their losses emotionally. This is what the grief
process is all about. It is not easy, but it causes great growth
and healing. Find a supportive person, and in a conversation
with them, take these steps:
Grief is not an impulsive act. It is a skill, with a structure
to it, that must be learned.
The Proficient level indicates that you are practiced in the major
healthy ways of dealing with negative realities: You can face both
positives and negatives equally well, and your emotional state,
relationships and activities are better for it. The skills below
will keep you moving along in the same direction.
Read the section entitled “The Problem of Having a Problem” in Now What Do I Do?: The Surprising Solution When Things Go Wrong
by Dr. John Townsend (Zondervan Publishing, 2010).
Write your paragraph on what current negative realities you are
facing in your personal and professional life. With each, write
down which of the major healthy ways of dealing with the
negative, from the section above, matter most to you, and how
you will implement them.
Have a conversation with someone who can hold great joy in one
part of themselves, and, at the same time, great sadness. Let
them know how much you appreciate that ability, and ask them to
help you achieve it as well.
Seek out someone who has mistreated you and, if the situation
is appropriate, tell them you forgive them, and do so from the
heart. We truly grow when we “forgive the unforgivable.” This
does not mean that there are no consequences to whatever they
did, and it may not mean there is reconciliation, because that
requires change for both parties. But for your part, forgive
Successful people are not only grown-ups on the outside, but also
on the inside. That is, they have the ability to function and relate
as adults with other adults. There are two key areas of competence
in the Capability area. One is more psychological, and one is more
The Authority Position describes the way you relate to others
within authority roles of all sorts: bosses, colleagues, direct
reports, parents, leaders and children, for example. There are four
basic positions. The first position is the healthiest, while the
other three are incomplete areas to grow from:
Individuals with Capability are focused and clear in their own
personal and vocational purpose in life. They have identified and
are integrating the five critical elements of purpose below into a
way of relating, working and growing:
Individuals at the Starting Off level are beginning to take their
place in the world. However, in times of stress or conflict, you may
tend to default to the Child, Adolescent or Parent Positions.
Regarding life purpose, this may be something you desire and value,
but you have not established as much direction and growth in this
area as you need. The following skills will help you move to the
Read Pages 106-112 in Chapter 7: “Our Need for Authority and Adulthood” in
Hiding From Love by
Dr. John Townsend ( Zondervan Publishing, 1991).
Talk to someone about their perspective of you in both the
Authority and the Purpose areas. Where do they see you as having
strengths, and where do they see you as having challenges?
The Intermediate level indicates that you are clear of your vision
on how you would like to operate from the Adult Position. You also
understand clearly how and why you default to one of the other three
Regarding life purpose, you have thought through and mapped out
your path of life purpose, integrating the five elements. This can
be termed a “Purpose Path,” or it may be a path you have crafted
previously along your way. This Path should be written out as a
document. The skills below will help you move to the next
Read Chapter 16: “Hiding from Authority and
Adulthood” in Hiding From Love
by Dr. John Townsend (Zondervan Publishing, 1991).
The Adequate level indicates that you are now actively facing and
dealing with any fears about changing your default position. You
have also identified the coping styles you have taken; you
understand at a deeper level why this position has been so difficult
Regarding life purpose, you have moved from thinking and crafting
your Purpose Path to executing it. You are rationalizing and
behaving in a way that is moving you in the right direction. Your
calendar reflects scheduled appointments, meetings and projects that
show that this is happening beyond the planning stage. The skills
below will help you move to the next level.
Read Pages 113-116 in Chapter 7: “Our Need for Authority and Adulthood” in
Hiding From Love by
Dr. John Townsend (Zondervan Publishing, 1991).
At the Proficient level for Capability, you are relating and
operating in the Adult Position, stably and effectively.
In addition, your life purpose is integrated and moving ahead on
track, including the elements of Passions, Talents, Work Ethic,
Vocation and Mission. The skills below will help you maintain and
continue your work at this level.
Read Part 5: “Transformation” in Leading From Your Gut by
Dr. John Townsend (Zondervan Publishing, 2018).
Have conversations with a supportive person regarding your
There are many human emotions. A large emotional vocabulary can
accelerate our growth and make communicating with others more
satisfying. People who only have a few emotions they are aware of
often have difficulty in relationships and careers. This list of 100
feelings is by no means comprehensive, but it is a good start.
Emotions I feel effect my personal well-being and attitude.
We are built to survive and grow through relationships. Just as our
bodies require biological nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals,
our brains require relational nutrients as well. Research shows that
when we are isolated from the right kinds of people, or are
overexposed to the wrong kinds, it affects our thinking, energy,
emotional state and functioning.
We need both kinds of nutrients throughout our lives.
Be there emotionally and compassionately for someone, using fewer
Give words that dispense care and support.
Provide helpful information.
Push to a practical step.
Thanks to the following people for their passion, expertise and
time in teaming up to help the TPRAT become a reality. Your work has
been excellent and much appreciated:
Christine Ames, Karen Bergstrom, Ph.D., Keith Edwards, Ph.D., Scott
Makin, M.A., Elaine Morris, Fauna Randolph, Patrick Sells and the
Sells Group Web Development Team, the Fall 2018 Townsend Institute
faculty and incoming students, the 2018 Townsend Leadership Group
Best Practices Conference attendees and my wife, Barbi.