Scenario #3
Pillars of identity

Pillars of identity

Aims / objectives

The aim of the Pillars of Identity method is to recognise one's own identities and the fact that identity consists of multiple dimensions. A person is not defined by just one element, such as gender, but by many different ones (profession, hobbies, world view, religion, etc.). If this is recognised, a harm to one part of the identity can carry less weight. Discrimination on the basis of a personal characteristic or (an ascribed) group membership is, then, no less painful and unjust, but it can be more easily endured and rejected. Resilience is strengthened as a result. Tolerance towards other people is also increased by not reducing them to one identity characteristic. The method is based on the concept of the five pillars of identity (Petzold) which are body & mind, relationships, work & free time, material securities and values.

Description of the method

The participants create an identity pie or pie chart. Different parts of one's identity are represented as pieces of the pie in different sizes, depending on their importance. The more important, the bigger the piece. What is not important is taken out. The trainer can suggest some dimensions (such as gender, profession, education, hobby, religion, etc.), but also lets the participants decide what they want to be represented in the pie.

My identity

Usability in social work

This method requires a formal framework that allows for reflection and discussion of identity issues over a period of approximately two hours. For the specific challenge of citizenship education and democratic competences, the discussion of identity can be related to the democratic framework and possibilities for action of the participants. The method is used to strengthen identity, promote resilience and also to counter anti-democratic extremism and is, thus, very important and useful for the prevention of extremism in youth work.


Name of the method

Pillars of identity

Target group

Especially young people from 12 to 18


2 hours

Spatial requirements

Room for a group (seminar or workshop room)


Self reflection, tolerance, critical thinking, resilience, respect, empathy


Strengthening resilience, reflection of identity, early prevention of extremism

Method description

Group exercise; facilitator asks questions about identity, participants create a pie of identity pieces and discuss it

Social work context

Method is important for the strengthening of young people’s identity and very suitable for the social work context but has some formal requirements (like room and time frame)


Theory of five pillars of identity needs to be known and presented by the facilitator, presentation material.


Identity questions can be very sensitive. People might not want to talk about different aspects, discriminations or their own prejudices. Facilitator needs to be very cautious.

Concept / application

Method conceptualised and presented in project workshop by Nedžad Moćević


Petzold, Hilarion (ed.; 2012). Identität - Ein Kernthema moderner Psychotherapie – Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven. Springer VS Wiesbaden

Website Nedžad Moćević:

Check our Partners