The brains of human beings seem built to process stories better than other forms of input ... - Thomas B Newman, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics
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.
There are handouts and questionnaires too on Fredrickson's work on positive emotions, and questionnaires on assessing the emotions we experience. There's a link to Grossman's "Emotion regulation questionnaire" and further handouts about managing emotion including important work on reappraisal.
Also included are a series of handouts on feelings, schema and personality. The "Our life stories: needs, beliefs & behaviours" 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.
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.
Emotions, ‘arriving' & ‘leaving' - this pair of Powerpoint slides handout introduces a simple model of 'arriving' (understanding what one is feeling) and 'leaving' (acting from or processing the feelings). The ideas are based on the work of Les Greenberg, Robert Elliott and others.
Emotions, awareness & regulation - again a pair of Powerpoint slides based largely on the work of Greenberg and colleagues. The handout both looks at aspects of emotions and introduces a metaphor of wading into a river as a way of considering over- and under-regulated emotions.
Emotions as different rooms in a house, page 1 & page 2 - here are four Powerpoint slides that I usually print out as a handout with two slides per page. Page 1, with ideas from Antonio Damasio, looks at the changes emotions produce in body and brain. Page 2, partly inspired by John Teasdale, suggests that different emotions produce such different mind-body states that it may sometimes be helpful to view humans as possessing a series of different "minds" rather than just one. I then introduce the metaphor of humans as "houses" with a collection of different mind-body "rooms" that we move between.
"Positive" emotions, page 1 & page 2 - again this is a four Powerpoint slide handout usually printed as two slides per page. It looks at the work of Isen and Fredrickson on the function of positive emotions, including the broaden-and-build theory. The handout also briefly considers how positive emotions can be encouraged and the value of acting from them.
Fredrickson's positive:negative emotional ratio - this questionnaire assesses the ratio of positive to negative emotions. It - and variations of it - have been used in Fredrickson's research. Research suggests that, for healthy functioning, one needs a ratio of between 3:1 to 11:1. This applies whether one is studying individuals, couples or work teams. See Fredrickson's Positivity Ratio website to access free online tools to assess and track positivity ratio.
"Positive" emotions: optimal ratio, page 1 & page 2 - another four Powerpoint slide handout (typically printed as two slides per page) that complements the "Positive" emotions and emotional ratio handout and questionnaire (see above). These slides give further background on the importance of a 3:1 to 11:1 ratio, benefits of positive emotions, types of positive emotion, and how positive emotions can be encouraged.
Emotions & feelings - this six Powerpoint slides to a page handout discusses definitions, components, types and functions of emotions.
Understanding our reactions: self monitoring - this is an assessment form that can be used to self-monitor or to complete within a therapeutic session. It looks at experiences of strong emotional reactions and asks a series of questions that can clarify the source of the emotion (leading to ideas about appropriate responses).
Understanding upsetting feelings, one week & two week forms, and suggestions - the 'Understanding our reactions' form (above) is used to note specific obvious examples of strong emotional reactions. These two 'Understanding upsetting feelings' forms are a little different. They encourage regular daily self-observation. Sometimes getting people to do this routinely for a while produces better information - possibly because it helps them keep the daily monitoring task in mind, rather than forgetting to do it. The 'Suggestions' sheet provides some background advice on keeping the forms.
Experiencing scale - this scale assesses seven levels of emotional and cognitive involvement with one's ongoing (internal) experience. Primarily tested in person-centered therapy - but also for other therapies such as group therapy and CBT - it has been found that being more emotionally engaged with therapy tends to be associated with better subsequent outcomes.
Emotion regulation questionnaire - and also a handout giving scoring & background details about the questionnaire. See as well a couple of posts I've written about this area - "Oregon university research on emotional regulation, interpersonal perception & personality" and "Stanford psychophysiology lab research on emotion regulation".
Beliefs about emotions questionnaire - this two page questionnaire & scoring/background handout is based on work at Oregon university (see blog post link above).
Getting a better perspective - this important handout is one that I use a lot. Effective use of reappraisal in our emotional & interpersonal life is crucially important, mature & helpful in a whole series of ways. The blog post "Reappraising reappraisal" is the handout with added background and links.
Our life stories: needs, beliefs & behaviours, page 1 & page 2 - here is a two page handout (printed out at 2 Powerpoint slides to a page) that I use a lot, especially when working with long term personality patterns. The ideas aren't at all original, although this particular way of presenting them is my own. I point out that a triangle of frustrated needs, dysfunctional beliefs, and outdated unhelpful behaviours probably made sense and may even have served them well, when the pattern developed in childhood/adolescence (e.g. in relation to "past people", slide 4), but that the triangle may well not be serving them well now (in relation to "current people" in their lives, and possibly with "therapist or group" too - providing learning opportunities in-session). I tend to encourage work at all corners of the triangle - clarifying healthy needs, challenging dysfunctional beliefs, and exploring more functional behaviours. There is a bit more information on this "Our life stories: needs, beliefs, behaviours" model in a series of four brief blog posts put onto this site in September 2010.
Personality assessment, big five aspects & domains - I like the way the "Big Five" (Neuroticism, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion & Openness to Experience) approach to personality assessment is applicable to all of us, not just those who are said to suffer from "personality disorders". I even more like this DeYoung et al's 10 aspects approach. Here is his 100 item questionnaire as a Word doc & as a PDF and here are some background comments as a Word doc & as a PDF.
Arntz/Young emotional regulation disorder mode diagrams - here are a pair of Powerpoint slides that I print out as a two-slides-to-a-page handout. The diagrams are at the heart of Arntz's very successful treatment for borderline personality disorder.
Arntz/Young emotional regulation disorder mode template - this "template" taken from the mode diagrams (above) makes it easier to write on the client's own descriptors for the the different modes e.g. "healthy George" or "toxic mother" or "frightened little Jane" etc. Using their own words to describe their different "modes" is likely to be useful therapeutically.
Arntz/Young transforming inner conflicts mode diagrams - interestingly this Arntz mode diagram is useful more broadly than simply for people suffering from borderline personality disorder. In fact most of us can probably see ourselves, to some extent, in these diagrams. I use this slightly adapted version of the original handout (see above) when working in these less borderline-focused instances.
Arntz/Young transforming inner conflicts mode template - again, this is an adaption of the Arntz work that I use in less borderline-focused instances of personality work (see above)
Overview of therapeutic methods (adapted parent/adult/child model), page 1 & page 2 - (print these out as 2 Powerpoint slides to a page handouts) after surprising myself with how useful I found the adapted Arntz diagrams (see above), I thought it might be fun to expand the ideas back to a version of the old Transactional Analysis parent/adult/child model. This makes it easier to include Gilbert/Neff style self-compassion work ("self nourisher" on slide 3) and Fredrickson style work on encouraging positive emotions ("happy child" on slide 4).
Emotional regulation disorder/borderline: diagnosis & background - diagnostic criteria for borderline personality disorder and research abstracts about this surprisingly common condition.
Young, early maladaptive schemas - due to lack of good research I didn't take Young's work seriously until Arntz's results with borderline were published. Here is some information about Young's maladaptive schemas with a possible simple scoring system that I get clients to fill in.
Young, schema modes - and here is some details of Young's schema modes. These ideas were at the core of Arntz's work.