Emotions are wonderful things; they can take us to the heights but unfortunately to the depths as well. It might be that the same emotions keep re-surfacing and take over the emotional landscape, such as fear, anger, or remorse. It might be that something has happened in a person’s life and they are overwhelmed with their emotional reaction.
The following can be emotional problem areas;
- Suppression of emotions. The person does not want to feel or talk about emotions and does not have the right outlets for expressing their feelings. They may want to cry but can’t.
- Lack of understanding emotions. The person has a big blank in their feelings or can’t identify if what they feel is an emotion or illness. They feel the sensation but are sometimes not clear what the emotion is. Emotions can be mistaken for physical illness, and people who do not completely understand their emotional life may go to their GP or hospital more often.
- Avoidance of emotional situations. Trying hard not to talk about or look at anything that might stir up feelings.
- Difficulty controlling emotions. They are sometimes overwhelmed by their feelings and they find themselves yet again losing control.
- Unprocessed emotion. Stressful situations or hurts have happened and the feelings just keep on surfacing and don’t seem to easily resolve – or it could be that they are in an unsolvable conflict and inevitably the emotional distress will continue until the situation is resolved.
Strangely, in psychology much less research has been conducted in emotions than say thinking and behaviour.
I wrote the paperback book ‘Emotional Processing; Healing through Feeling’ (Lion-Hudson, Oxford, 2007) to make people more aware of this rather neglected area. In the book I describe case histories of people in therapy who were grappling with different emotional issues and how important it was to allow themselves to feel and express their emotions. Our research team has developed the Emotional Processing Scale for use by therapists, and also ‘Emotional Processing Therapy’, a new approach emphasising the important role of emotions in therapy. Much of this is explained in our website www.emotionalprocessing.org.
Emotions come into most types of psychological therapy, but in Emotional Processing Therapy they become the central focus.
A course of therapy is between 8-15 sessions over a 9 month period. Sessions are frequent at first (every 2 weeks) but less frequent in the latter part of therapy (about once a month) as the person enters the ‘follow-up’ stage.