Emotion regulation is a transdiagnostic and transtheoretical process affecting a wide variety of forms of psychopathology from a variety of theoretical orientations. Emotional Schema Therapy is a social cognitive model that proposes that individuals adhere to specific theories about the causes, danger, legitimacy, and differentiation of emotion and, due to these implicit theories, individuals implement a wide range of emotion regulation strategies. These strategies may be problematic (such as avoidance, substance abuse, dissociation, or escalation) or adaptive (such as restructuring, acceptance, problem-solving). Moreover, certain emotions are often viewed as “unacceptable” (jealousy, envy, anger, or sexual desire) and these interpretations result in over-regulation of emotion, guilt, and blaming.
In this workshop, we will review problematic “theories” of emotion and “strategies” and examine how modifying these schemas can assist in processing important emotional content. In particular, patient’s beliefs about and strategies about emotion can affect the willingness to utilize exposure, evaluations of how effective treatment is (“But I still have some anxiety”), depth and meaning of therapy, and recognition that emotional challenges are part of an engaged life.
1. Identify emotional schemas and problematic strategies
2. Help patients normalize emotions, self-validate, and use emotions more effectively
3. Help patients learn how to communicate emotional needs effectively without getting “stuck” in the role of being a victim
4. Identify and pursue more “positive” emotional goals
1. Leahy, R.L. , Tirch, D., and Napolitano, L. (2011). Emotion Regulation in Psychotherapy: A Practitioner’s Guide. New York: Guilford.
2. Leahy, R. L. (2009). Resistance: An emotional schema therapy (EST) approach. In G. Simos, (Ed), Cognitive behaviour therapy: Vol. 2. A guide for the practising clinician (pp. 187-204). New York: Routledge/Taylor & Francis.
3. Leahy, R. L. (2010). Emotional schemas and resistance to change in anxiety disorders. In D. Sookman & R. L. Leahy (Eds), Treatment Resistant Anxiety Disorders. New York: Routledge.
4. Leahy, R. L. (2010). Emotional schema therapy. In J. Herbert and E. Forman (Eds.), Acceptance and mindfulness in cognitive behavior therapy: Understanding and applying the new therapies. New York: Wiley
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