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Peer groups: Cumbria spring group – cathartic work from the outside

So I wrote yesterday about the cathartic, emotion-focussed work that I went through.  In their classic 1973 book "Encounter groups: first facts"  the authors, Lieberman, Yalom and Miles, describe their major research on the potential benefits of these kinds of groups.  One of their findings was that people who benefited most seemed both to get strongly emotionally engaged with the group and also took time to reflect and make sense of what they had experienced.  In the weekly-format groups I run in Edinburgh, I try to encourage this reviewing process by explaining its value and then askin

Handouts & questionnaires for emotions, schema & personality

Here are a set of diverse handouts and questionnaires on emotions, schema and personality.  The "triangle of emotions" is a model I put together to help guide work on the longer term dysfunctional personality patterns that we probably all experience to some extent.  The "big five" is a very widely used way of assessing personality, and this "ten aspects" version I find particularly interesting.  There are then a series of handouts from Arnoud Arntz's fine work on understanding and treatment of borderline personality disorder.  I have found that Arntz's ideas seem more broadly helpful than just with borderline (which anyway is a poor descriptor for this emotional regulation disorder).  There are also some sheets derived from Young's associated work on schema. 

Ways of coping: theory & personal experience

In blog postings earlier this month, I've talked about supporting my Mum after her recent couple of strokes.  She's been shipped through three different hospitals and now is more peaceful in a nursing home.  It's sad - very sad at times - and it's great that she seems more comfortable, better looked after, and more content.  I definitely feel easier too.  Less weight on my shoulders, less emotional aching.

Handouts & questionnaires for emotions & feelings

Here are a set of handouts and questionnaires about emotions.  It seems helpful to understand emotions through an evolutionary perspective - we have emotions, to a large extent, because they had (and have) survival value.  We are the descendants of people with adaptive emotional systems that helped them stay alive and function well.  Typically unwelcome feelings that seem maladapitve are due to emotions that are firing off inappropriately.  As a rule of thumb, if an emotion is an appropriate reaction to a situation it can help us respond successfully.  If the emotion is inappropriate then it's likely to be more useful to work to change the emotional response - through therapy or other approaches. 

Emotions are like a ‘radar system' - this pair of Powerpoint slides, that I print out as a two-slides-to-a-page handout, introduces the idea of emotions as an evolutionarily adaptive system.  I use the metaphor of emotions as a 'radar & rapid response system' - normalising emotions and conceptualising emotional problems as inappropriate levels of activation in a basically adaptive system.   

Friendship, life planning, & expressing emotions

Yesterday and today are a check-in time with my friend Larry.  I've written in a previous blog post how Larry and I have met every three or four months for many years specifically to review how our lives are going and to plan and prioritize our goals for the next few months.  "Taking charge" of our lives in this kind of way makes huge sense.  For example the self-determination literature (S-DT)  highlights the importance of making autonomous decisions about what we put our energy into.  This S-DT research and much other work (e.g. a recent study on goal-setting) also emphasises that this kind of approach is a core component of growing wellbeing in one's life.  Yeats wrote something like "A friend is someone who sees the potential in you and helps you to live it."  Meeting with an old friend in the way Larry and I have done, is certainly an example of what Yeats was talking about.

Recent research: a mixed bag of studies on personality, paranoia, burnout, somatization, and relationships

This week's recent research post is a mixed bag of six studies covering the physiological & psychological changes triggered by being separated from one's partner, why similar levels of anxiety & interpersonal sensitivity can lead to social anxiety in some individuals and paranoia in others, how difficulty identifying feelings is associated with increased somatization, the frequency of burnout in family doctors around Europe, personality factors that predict a longer life, and how wrong the old saying is that "Sticks & stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me"!  

Emotions, feelings & personality

Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring and integrity, they think of you. - Jackson Brown

This section contains handouts and questionnaires about emotions, feelings & personality.  It seems helpful to understand emotions through an evolutionary perspective - we have emotions, to a large extent, because they had (and have) survival value.  We are the descendants of people with adaptive emotional systems that helped them stay alive and function well.  Typically unwelcome feelings that seem maladaptive are due to emotions that are firing off inappropriately.  As a rule of thumb, if an emotion is an appropriate reaction to a situation it can help us respond successfully.  If the emotion is inappropriate then it's likely to be more useful to work to change the emotional response - through therapy or other approaches. 

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