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Improving Emotional Intelligence: A guide to mindfulness-based emotional intelligence training

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There has been substantial confusion in the field of emotional intelligence (EI). People seem to disagree on what EI is, what it predicts, and whether EI is distinctive from traditional measures. Despite all these dis-uptes, EI continues to attract substantial interest from both the public and from scientists. What is so appealing about EI? Perhaps people recognize a fundamental paradox: Science has helped us to gain amazing control over our external world, yet we have made little progress it getting control of our internal, emotional worlds. For example, we can travel around the world in less than a day, but we don't seem to have made much progress in reducing road rage, racism, murder, and suicide. If we look honestly at the human condition, we must admit that emotional unintel-ligence is everywhere. People may be turning to EI, perhaps hoping that it will help them get control of their lives. The purpose of the present chapter is to provide a theory about why people often act so ineffectively in the context of emotions. We then use the theory to hopefully accomplish two goals, namely, (1) to provide an organizing framework for the vast number of EI-relevant measures currently in the field, and (2) to connect these measures to a coherent intervention .
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Joseph Ciarrochi
John T. Blackledge
Mindfulness-Based Emotional
Intelligence Training: A
New Approach to Reducing
Human Suffering and
Promoting Effectiveness
There has been substantial confusion in the field of emotional intelli-
gence (EI). People seem to disagree on what EI is, what it predicts, and
whether EI is distinctive from traditional measures. Despite all these dis-
uptes, EI continues to attract substantial interest from both the public and
from scientists. What is so appealing about EI? Perhaps people recognize
a fundamental paradox: Science has helped us to gain amazing control
over our external world, yet we have made little progress it getting con-
trol of our internal, emotional worlds. For example, we can travel around
the world in less than a day, but we don’t seem to have made much
progress in reducing road rage, racism, murder, and suicide. If we look
honestly at the human condition, we must admit that emotional unintel-
ligence is everywhere. People may be turning to EI, perhaps hoping that
it will help them get control of their lives.
The purpose of the present chapter is to provide a theory about why
people often act so ineffectively in the context of emotions. We then use
the theory to hopefully accomplish two goals, namely, (1) to provide an
organizing framework for the vast number of EI-relevant measures cur-
rently in the field, and (2) to connect these measures to a coherent inter-
vention.
10
CHAPTER
206
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Mindfulness-based EI Training 207
Definining a Few Terms
We work within a functional contextualist framework [1]. This means
that our primary focus is on influencing behavior, rather than merely pre-
dicting it. Specifically, the goal of our EI work is to identify the conditions
that promote effectiveness and reduce suffering. We define effectiveness
as the achievement of goals that are determined by each individual client.
“Reduction of suffering” is a bit more difficult to define, but can be oper-
ationally defined by high scores on negative indices of well-being (e.g.,
depression and anxiety), and/or an increase of scores on positive indices
of well-being (e.g., life satisfaction).
Our discussion focuses on processes that are presumed to promote
emotionally intelligent behavior and indirectly reduce suffering. It is crit-
ical to distinguish between emotional intelligence and emotionally intel-
ligent behavior. Emotional intelligence refers to people’s ability to process
emotions and deal effectively with them (see Chapter 1 in this volume).
EI refers to people’s potential. In contrast, “emotionally intelligent behav-
ior” refers to how effectively people actually behave in the presence of
emotions and emotionally charged thoughts.
Simply put, emotionally unintelligent behavior occurs when emotions
impede effective action, and emotionally intelligent behavior occurs
when emotions do not impede effective action, or when emotions facili-
tate effective action. Emotional intelligence (as an ability) is one set of
processes hypothesized to promote emotionally intelligent behavior.
There are other potential processes, many of which will be discussed in
this chapter.
Perhaps a few examples of emotionally intelligent behavior will clarify
our definition. If you are anxious, does that feeling stop you from going
to get a health checkup (we assume this would be inconsistent with your
goal of maintaining health)? If you are very angry at your friend, do you
hit him (assuming your goal is to maintain friendly relations)? If you feel
sad, does this stop you from caring for a loved one (assuming you value
such “care”)? These are three examples of emotionally unintelligent
behavior. The processes that we specify in this chapter are hypothesized
to help people act more intelligently and more effectively pursue their
personal values and goals when they feel anxious, angry, or sad.
Emotionally intelligent people would, according to our definition, feel
anxious and get a health checkup, feel angry and treat people with
respect, and feel sad and still support loved ones.
In our model, emotionally intelligent behavior (EIB) is presumed to
reduce unnecessary suffering. Thus, reduced suffering is essentially an
after-effect of people moving towards what they value (or engaging in
EIB). For example, if people feel sad and continue to do the things they
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208 Ciarrochi and Blackledge
value, they may be less likely to experience depression because their abil-
ities to consistently engage in personally meaningful and vital activities
would be expected to minimize depression over the long term. Similarly,
if someone experiences anxiety about an upcoming test, and focuses on
studying for it, rather than procrastinating, then they may be less likely
to experience excess anxiety and regret. In contrast, if they try to avoid
studying and avoid thinking about the test, then they may ironically
experience more anxiety about the test in the long run (see section on
emotional orientation, below).
Our review focuses on processes that are both presumed to promote
emotionally intelligent behavior, and that can be modified by an inter-
vention. By talking about these processes, we do not make any assump-
tions about whether the processes refer to either a “potential,” or a “ten-
dency.” The ultimate purpose of everything done within a our EI
approach is about intervening to help people lead better, more vital lives.
Thus, we are not interested in EI-relevant measures in themselves, but
rather how these measures facilitate effective interventions.
Why People Seem to be so Emotionally
Unintelligent—Language-Based Processes
Relational Frame Theory (RFT), a modern behavioral theory of lan-
guage and cognition that has undergone rigorous empirical testing (see
[2] for an initial summary of this work), suggests that psychological suf-
fering is virtually ubiquitous in human beings primarily because of the
way language works. Very briefly, RFT posits that the way we think
about our experiences dramatically changes those experiences by trans-
forming direct contingency stimulus functions—or, in other words, by
pervasively altering our impressions of what is actually going on in
ways that lead us to act as if the illusory world created through abstract
thoughts is real.
RFT endorses the notion that, although we can only ever be completely
certain that thoughts referring to phenomena we can directly perceive
with our five senses are effectively “real,” we are often erroneously con-
vinced that thoughts referring to abstract, non-sensible phenomena are
just as true and accurate. For example, I can be certain that I feel anxious
in the sense that I can physically sense bodily components of anxiety
(rapid heart beat, tense shoulders, sweaty skin, etc.). But the evaluative
thoughts that anxiety is a bad thing and that there is something wrong with
me for feeling anxious, and the prescriptive thought that I must avoid anx-
iety or bad things will happen, do not refer to formal stimulus properties
that can be directly sensed. Although the thoughts that there is something
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Mindfulness-based EI Training 209
wrong with me, and anxiety is bad and must be avoided, are not
immutable truths, I may act as if they are, and correspondingly go to great
and often counterproductive lengths to avoid anxiety.
Evaluative and prescriptive language surrounding experiences like
anxiety are only the tip of the iceberg. RFT predicts that virtually any
emotion or other aspect of human experience can be arbitrarily evaluated
and involved in unnecessary behavioral limitations and prescriptions. In
blunt language, there are virtually unlimited ways in which we can be
weighed, measured, and found wanting. The hope lies in the fact that
these measurements are not real.
The hallmark of an RFT-informed perspective on what makes a person
emotionally intelligent thus involves an awareness of the illusory quali-
ties of language that allow emotions and other aspects of our experience
to be negatively evaluated and to participate in apparent causal relations
with subsequent behavior. The emotionally intelligent person, from our
perspective, is able to recognize unpleasant emotions for what they are:
constellations of physiological sensations, thoughts, and behavioral pre-
dispositions that are not intrinsically harmful, can be fully and willingly
experienced, and need not determine what is done next. The emotionally
unintelligent person views the negative evaluations and prescriptive
thoughts surrounding emotions as fundamentally true and behaviorally
binding (e.g., if I feel angry, I must act aggressively and get revenge).
The FEAR acronym (fusion, evaluation, avoidance, reason giving),
drawn from RFT-based Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT [3])
describes in more detail how this kind of emotional unintelligence
develops.
Fusion
In a basic sense, cognitive fusion occurs when we “take our thoughts too
seriously” and assume that what we believe corresponds to immutable
truths. In a more technical sense, cognitive fusion is a process that
enables language’s ability to transform direct stimulus functions (to liter-
ally change the characteristics and implications of our experience).
When negative evaluations and inaccurate or dysfunctional verbal
rules (referred to as “reasons” or “reason giving” in the FEAR acronym)
are cognitively fused with, problems arise. When one fuses with nega-
tively valanced evaluations of one’s experience, the stimulus functions of
that experience are transformed and become correspondingly more neg-
ative or aversive than they actually “are” from the perspective of a non-
verbal organism. (Or, more precisely, than they actually would be from a
direct contingency perspective.) While such negative evaluations can
confer an advantage (e.g., when framing one’s experience negatively
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210 Ciarrochi and Blackledge
leads oneself to successfully change unsatisfactory or unnecessarily pro-
hibitive circumstances), they often create more aversive stimulation and
harmful experiential avoidance than necessary. For example, a man who
becomes depressed following a run of bad luck, and subsequently fuses
with thoughts that he is hopelessly inadequate to life’s challenges, is then
likely to feel even worse about himself and to avoid potentially construc-
tive challenges likely to test his worthiness.
Similarly, fusion with problematic verbal rules or “reasons” can lock
one in to actions prescribed by those rules and prohibit actions discordant
with them. For example, a woman who fuses with a verbal rule stating
that anger must never be expressed may be ineffective at solving inter-
personal conflicts because following this rule would often prohibit an
open discussion of her perspective and her grievances. Thus, while fusion
with evaluations and verbal rules/reasons can often confer a psychological
and behavioral advantage, such fusion can often enhance psychological
suffering and contribute to more maladaptive behavior as well.
Evaluation
Language allows us to create labels (such as “anxiety” and “sadness”) for
our internal states. Once labeled, such states can be readily evaluated,
and these evaluations are very often negative [3]. When these negative
evaluations are fused with, we may then try to avoid the internal states
just as we avoid genuinely threatening external events. We may even
verbally generate more global and abstract labels such as “our life.” As
it can with any other stimulus, our minds can then verbally evaluate “
our life” as “worthless” and “unbearable,” thereby providing the impetus
for a variety of problematic behaviors designed to avoid the sizable psy-
chological pain associated with such thoughts—substance abuse, social
isolation, even suicide. Finally, language allows us to create ideals about
ourselves, other people, and the world around us. Our minds can then
compare the ideal to present reality, and find the present to be unacceptable.
Consistent with this view, evidence suggests that social comparison and
negative self-evaluation are pervasive and linked to suffering [4–5], and
that negative self- and global evaluations play critical roles in a great
number of psychological disorders, including post-traumatic stress disor-
der [6] and depression [7].
Avoidance
It is often adaptive to avoid threats in the outside world. Humans create
an internal, private world of symbols, and learn to avoid aspects of it.
Such avoidance can be attempted by directly suppressing unpleasant
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Mindfulness-based EI Training 211
experiences or by seeking to modify such experiences. Experiential
avoidance may work in the short run, but often not in the long run.
Indeed, it can have a paradoxical rebound effect. The more one tries to
avoid the experience, the more it can dominate one’s life [3], [8].
The downsides to experiential avoidance are now well documented.
Research has shown that when subjects are asked to suppress a thought,
they later show an increase in this suppressed thought as compared with
those not given suppression instructions [9]. Indeed, the suppression
strategy may actually stimulate the suppressed mood in a kind of self-
amplifying loop [10].
Reason Giving/Rule Creation
People learn to put forth reasons as valid and sensible causes of behavior
[3]. Unfortunately, people begin to believe their own reasons and stories
[3], even when they do not correspond well to actual, direct contingen-
cies and are harmful or unproductive if followed. People tell themselves,
“I am worthless” and behave accordingly. They might tell themselves “I
must have other people’s approval,” and waste a great deal of energy try-
ing to get approval from every significant other. Or they might think, “I
can’t take a risk, because I am too anxious.” They act as if they really can’t
take a risk, although experience can show them that they can take risks
and be anxious [11].
EI-Relevant Processes Derived from the Theory
We now turn our attention to the different dimensions that we believe
undermine the harmful influence of FEAR-based action and that pro-
mote emotionally intelligent behavior. For a book-length treatment of
how to undermine FEAR, please see Hayes et al. [3] and other work
under the heading of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). We
view Mindfulness-based Emotional Intelligence Training (MBEIT) as an
ACT intervention applied to organizations.
After describing each dimension, we will review a number of individual
difference measures that appear to tap into the dimensions, and discuss
their relationship to well-being. The purpose of discussing the measures is
not to rename old measures as “EI.” We use the original names. These
measures index processes that are presumed to promote emotionally
intelligent behavior. Our purpose is to put a wide range of measures into
a coherent theoretical framework that is tied to specific interventions.
From a functionalist perspective, the main reason to talk about these
measures is because they may help to make a difference in people’s lives.
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Such measures may help people to evaluate which aspect of an inter-
vention is or is not working. It may also help to identify client’s strengths
and weaknesses and thereby create an intervention that is tailored to
each individual’s needs.
Effective Emotional Orientation
Defining Effective Emotional Orientation
Effective emotional orientation (EEO) involves willingness to have pri-
vate experiences (e.g., anxiety), when doing so fosters effective action
(Table 10.1). It also involves accepting the inevitability of unpleasant
affect and negative self-evaluation, and recognizing that these private
experiences do not have to stop us from pursuing a valued direction [3].
People quite reasonably avoid things in the world that are aversive.
Cognitive fusion with negative evaluations exponentially increases the
amount of stimuli in one’s world experienced as aversive. People natu-
rally evaluate their aversive thoughts as bad and seek to avoid them. As
discussed above, avoidance often does not work and indeed can make
matters worse. A rule of thumb regarding private experience is, “If you’re
not willing to have it, you have it” [3]. This is completely different from
the rule of public experience. If you not willing to have something
unpleasant in the public world (say, an ugly sofa), you can usually get rid
of it.
The Link between Well-Being and Individual Differences
in EEO
EEO is more of a family of constructs, rather than a single construct. The
“family” members are interrelated, yet sometimes statistically separable.
In general, all of the measures of EI-relevant processes described in this
chapter have this family property. This chapter will focus on measures that
have found empirical support from multiple, independent laboratories.
The first individual difference we discuss—EEO—reflects the tenden-
cy to see emotional problems as a challenge rather than a threat, and
the tendency to face problems, rather than avoid them. There is con-
siderable evidence supporting the link between problem orientation
and negative indices of well-being. It has been associated with low
depression, anxiety, hopelessness, suicidal ideation, health complaints,
and neuroticism [12–15]. It has been shown to be associated with low
psychological distress and positive coping strategies, even when controlling
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Mindfulness-based EI Training 213
TABLE 10.1. Processes that are hypothesized to promote emotionally intelligent behavior
EI-relevant process Description
Effective emotional Letting go of unhelpful emotion control strategies
orientation Willingness to have emotionally charged private
experiences (thoughts, images, emotions), when doing so
fosters effective action
Accepting the inevitably of a certain amount of
unpleasant affect and negative self-evaluation
Understanding that private experiences do not have to stop
one from pursuing a valued direction (and therefore one
doesn’t have to get rid of them)
Using emotion as Identifying emotions
information Understanding the appraisals that activate different
emotions
Understanding the consequences of emotions on
cognition, health, etc.
Understanding how emotions progress over time
Distinguishing between helpful and unhelpful emotions
and emotionally charged thoughts
Defusing from unhelpful Seeing that emotionally charged thoughts about life are
thoughts and emotions not equivalent to life
(i.e., Undermining the Looking
at
emotionally charged ways of framing (thinking
power of unhelpful thoughts about) experiences, rather than
through
them
and emotions to act as Being able to be mindful and accepting of moment to
barriers to effective action) moment experience (either internal or external)
Defusing from unhelpful Recognizing that self-evaluations are not descriptions of
self-concepts (i.e., our essence
undermining the power of Escaping the perceived need to defend self-esteem
unhelpful self-concepts to Looking at, rather than through, self-evaluations
act as barriers to effective Recognizing that emotionally charged evaluations of the
action) self do not have to stop us from pursing our goals
Making contact with the “observer self;” finding the safe
place from which to accept all negative emotions,
self-doubts, and other unpleasant inner experiences
Effective action orientation Clear awareness of values and their relative importance
Ability to take action that is consistent with goals and
values, even in the context of:
°impulses, fears, lack of confidence
°uncertainty, doubt
°feelings of exhaustion or fatigue
°physical pain
°intense emotion
Ability to sustain committed action in the face of
inconsistent feedback, frustration, and failure
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214 Ciarrochi and Blackledge
for optimism, pessimism, positive affectivity, negative affectivity, and
stressful life events [15–16]. Other research provides some evidence
that problem orientation is causally related to well-being. Davey and
his colleagues have shown that experimentally induced reductions
in effective orientation lead to increases in subsequent catastrophic
worrying [17].
The White Bear Suppression Inventory measures poor orientation, in
that people who score high on it seek to avoid or suppress their private
experiences. It has been found to correlate with measures of obsessional
thinking and depressive and anxious affect [18].
The Acceptance and Action Questionnaire (AAQ) measures the will-
ingness to experience thoughts, feelings, and physiological sensations
without having to control them, or let them determine one’s actions
[19–20]. It has been associated with a range of negative emotional states
[19]. A longitudinal study found that the AAQ predicts mental health and
an objective measure of performance, over and above job control, nega-
tive affectivity, and locus of control [20]. In another study utilizing the
AAQ, participants high in emotional avoidance showed more anxiety in
response to CO2(biological challenge), particularly when instructed to
suppress their emotions [10].
Using Emotion as Information
The second dimension of our model involves the ability to use emotions
as information (UEI) to inform effective action (see Table 10.1). Emotions
are messengers. They usually tell us something about the world and
about our own desires. For example, anxiety results from the appraisal
that something undesirable might happen. Anger results from the
appraisal that someone has acted unfairly and this has resulted in some-
thing undesirable [21].
The FEAR framework suggests that we tend to evaluate our unpleasant
or otherwise unwanted private experiences as bad and subsequently
try to avoid them. Unfortunately, avoiding the messenger (the emotion)
does not change the message. Importantly, if we do not know what
the message is, we will find it difficult to act effectively. If we do not
know that we are anxious, then we may mistakenly think our anxious
sensations are due to a physical sickness [22]. Or we may mistakenly
blame our anxiety on some irrelevant event (our colleague’s behavior),
and seek to change this irrelevant event, rather than focusing effectively
on the real problem. Essentially, we need to be able to utilize emotions
as information if we are to effectively solve our emotional problems.
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Mindfulness-based EI Training 215
The Link Between Well-Being and Individual
Differences in Using Emotional Information
The measures discussed here focus on people’s ability to identify their
emotions, which is essential to being able to use emotional information.
Alexithymia refers to people who have trouble identifying and describ-
ing emotions and who tend to minimize emotional experience and focus
attention externally. This construct appears to be a mix of using emo-
tional information and effective emotional orientation. The Toronto
Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) is one of the most commonly used measures
of alexithymia. It has been shown to be highly related to Bar-On’s self-
report EI measure [23], and to a number of important life outcomes. For
example, people high in alexithymia are more prone to drug addiction,
eating disorders, and to report medically unexplained symptoms [24].
The alexithymia subscales–difficulty identifying and describing emo-
tions–are related to a variety of negative indices of well-being (e.g.,
depression), even after controlling for other measures of emotional intel-
ligence [15]. A longitudinal study found that alexithymia predicts per-
sistent somatization at 2-year follow-up [25].
The emotional clarity subscale of the Trait Meta-Mood Scale (TMMS)
also appears to measure an aspect of using emotion as information [26].
This scale predicts how much people seem to dwell unproductively on
sad thoughts [26]. In general, just about every measure of emotional
intelligence appears to have a subscale that assesses skill at emotional
identification. Such measures include the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso
Emotional Intelligence Test [27] and the Schutte et al. emotional intelli-
gence inventory [28].
In contrast to the above scales, the Levels of Emotional Awareness
Scale (LEAS) is based on performance rather than self-report [29]. People
low in emotional awareness tend not to use specific emotion terms (sad-
ness, anger) to describe their emotional experience. Instead, they focus
on cognitions (“I’d feel confused”), bodily sensations (“I’d feel tired”) and
undifferentiated emotional states (“I’d feel bad”). Research has shown
people high in emotional awareness are less likely to allow moods to bias
their judgments in mood congruent directions [30]. Other research sug-
gests that people high in emotional awareness have higher levels of social
well-being. Ciarrochi et al. found that emotionally aware adults have a
higher number of social supports [30]. More recently, Bajgar found that
emotionally aware boys are less likely to be involved in anger outbursts
and fights and emotionally aware girls are more likely to be popular with
their peers [31].
We acknowledge that their are rather substantial differences between
self-report and ability-based measures of emotion perception. However,
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216 Ciarrochi and Blackledge
discussion of these differences is beyond the scope of this chapter—please
see other chapters in this volume.
Defusing from Unhelpful Emotions and Thoughts
The third dimension of our model involves the ability to undermine
fusion with unhelpful emotions and thoughts. Table 10.1 lists the key
components of this skill (see also the above subsection on fusion).
When language processes dominate, “humans fuse with the psycho-
logical contents of verbal events. The distinction between thinking and
the referent of thought is diminished. As a result, emotionally charged
thoughts or feelings (particularly those with provocative or pejorative
meanings) become connected to powerful and predictable behavior pat-
terns” [3, p. 149].
In other words, language has the power to bring forth its own reality.
The word “milk” psychologically brings forth the taste of milk, images of
frothy whiteness, and even the near sensation of coldness. It is as if sim-
ply speaking or thinking of the word has made the milk present.
Language is so powerful that people come to see their verbal construc-
tions of life as equivalent to life itself [3]. People fail to distinguish
between the verbal constructions and the actual experience. We some-
times see life through “horrible” colored glasses [3], [32], and when these
colored sights are taken at face value, life itself can become horrible.
One key to undermining fusion is to learn to look at our emotionally
charged thoughts, rather than through them. Normally, we do not even
notice the process of thinking that occurs through virtually all our wak-
ing hours. Thoughts occur but are not recognized as thoughts per se.
Rather, they are implicitly assumed to be accurate descriptions of our
experiences. A first step in viewing thinking simply as behavior we
engage in (rather than immutable reflections of reality) is to notice that
we are indeed “creating” strings of words and to notice how these words
might be coloring our perceptions of our direct experiences. This involves
realizing first hand that words are simply maps of the terrain, not the ter-
rain itself—and that these maps are often grossly inadequate.
Defusion involves a fundamental shift in context. It involves looking at
the feelings, thoughts, sensations, and memories that show up from
moment to moment and watching them as they go by. It involves a con-
text shift from the “here and now” (“I am depressed”) to the “there and
then” (I have had the evaluation that “I am depressed”). Such shifts help
us see our actual, direct experiences for what they are—streams of words
and changing physical sensations and urges—rather than what our minds
say our direct experiences are [3], [33]. Very often, vast differences exist
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Mindfulness-based EI Training 217
between basic experiences created by direct, non-verbal contingencies,
and the confabulated versions of these same experiences created by ver-
bal processes.
The antidote to the FEAR-based behaviors just described involve the
highly interrelated processes of cognitive defusion and acceptance.
Procedures instilling the shift in context described above instantiate this
defusion and disrupt problematic transformations of stimulus function
created through language. Once defusion has “de-thorned” the bushes
one metaphorically stands in, it becomes easier to accept one’s position
and orient toward behavior more instrumental in achieving personally
held values. Some defusion and acceptance-based techniques, for exam-
ple, involve those elsewhere referred to as “mindfulness.” Mindfulness
can be broken down into a number of components, including “what”
skills (i.e., observing things as they come and go, describing them, and
participating fully in life), and “how” skills (i.e., taking a non-judgmen-
tal stance, mindfully focus on what you are doing, doing what works
[34]). Essentially, mindfulness helps people to look at their private expe-
rience, rather than through it, and to see their moment-to-moment
experience as it is (not as it seems to be when seen through language or
intense emotion).
Mindlessly seeing life through unhelpful thoughts is expected to be a
major source of suffering [32]. Ellis has proposed four major classes of
unhelpful thoughts [32]. These include demandingness (“Things must be
a certain way”), low distress tolerance (“I can’t stand it”), awfulizing
(“My life is awful”), and global evaluations (“I am completely good or
bad; work is completely bad”). The key goal in mindfulness training is not
to get rid of the thoughts, as they are not harmful in and of themselves.
Rather, the key is to accept whatever thoughts show up during the course
of pursing goals (effective orientation) and to learn to look at thoughts,
rather than through them. One must be willing to have unpleasant
thoughts, and not believe them.
The last two decades have found substantial support interventions that
are designed to facilitate the strategic use of defusion and acceptance.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an acceptance- and defu-
sion-based approach that addresses processes designated by the FEAR
framework. There are now nearly two decades of work specifically sup-
porting the efficacy of ACT, as well as over 60 empirical RFT studies sup-
porting aspects of the ACT model. Published randomized control trials
provide evidence that ACT may do as well or better than traditional cog-
nitive behavioral therapy in reducing depression and anxiety, and that it
is effective in the treatment of substance abuse, pain, and psychosis
[35–36]. ACT has also been shown to be effective at reducing stress and
sick leave utilization in “normal” populations [37–38].
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There is also substantial support for other acceptance or mindfulness-
based interventions, including Dialectic Behavior Therapy [34],
Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy for Depression [39], mindfulness-
based meditation [40], and Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction [33].
Many other approaches have benefited by adding mindfulness and
acceptance components to their inventions (for a review see [3]).
Individual Differences in Mindfulness and Fusion
with Particular Types of Unhelpful Thoughts
There are several scales related to this dimension. The Mindfulness
Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS) measures people’s tendency to be
mindful of moment to moment experience. This scale has been shown to
relate to various aspects of well-being and to how effectively people deal
with stressful life events [41].
The Dysfunctional Attitudes Scale (DAS [42]) is commonly used in
clinical practice and measures the extent people believe, or fuse with, cer-
tain unhelpful thoughts. It can be divided into two dimensions [43–44].
The first dimension is about the “dire need” for power and success, and
includes beliefs that relate to perfectionism (being perfectly achieving),
performance evaluation, not seeming weak, and a need for admiration
and control. The second dimension relates to acceptance, and includes
feeling a “dire need” for social acceptance, love, and approval. The DAS
(and similar scales) have been shown to relate to well-being, discriminate
between clinical and non-clinical groups, and predict changes in well-
being in a longitudinal design [43–44]. In addition, there is evidence that
reduction in dysfunctional beliefs due to clinical interventions are associ-
ated with reductions in disturbing emotional states [42], [45–46].
Another group of measures reflect unhelpful beliefs about uncertainty
(e.g., “that uncertainty is awful or intolerable”). These include measures
of intolerance of uncertainty [47], rigidity [48], and intolerance of ambi-
guity [49]. These measures have been shown to relate to depression and
anxiety in both clinical and normal populations [47], [50].
Finally, individual differences in rumination seem to reflect high
fusion. Rumination can be measures using self-reports measures such as
the Emotion Control Questionnaire [51]. Ruminators seem to be stuck in
their thoughts, engaging in repetitive and passive thinking about a prob-
lem [52]. Rumination involves mindlessly bouncing from one negative
thought to another, perhaps in an attempt to escape unpleasant affect by
controlling the uncontrollable (e.g., uncertainty [47]). It has been associ-
ated with a range of emotional difficulties, including anger and depres-
sion [53–54]. Longitudinal studies have established that people who
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Mindfulness-based EI Training 219
engage in more rumination have higher levels of depressive symptoms
over time and perceive themselves to be receiving less social support,
even when controlling for their baseline levels of depressive symptoms
[54–56]. High rumination has also been associated with delayed recovery
from stress, as indicated by delayed heart rate and physiological (cortisol)
recovery [57–58].
Rumination might also be seen as an ineffective emotional orientation,
since it appears to involve attempts to use reasoning to escape from
unpleasant private experiences [59]. However, we include it here because
it seems to involve a mindless absorption in the content of thought
(fusion), rather than looking at thought, and a focus on the future or the
past, whilst the present goes unnoticed.
The measures may seem quite different from each other in this section,
and to some extent they are. However, there is also some evidence that
they interrelate. For example, Brown and Ryan found across several
studies that higher mindfulness scores were modestly associated with
higher self-reported emotional intelligence and lower rumination [41].
Dugas and his colleagues found that intolerance of uncertainty is related
to ruminative activity [59]. More recently, Godsell and Ciarrochi found
that the measures discussed in this section and other sections all tend to
correlate, sometimes substantially [60].
It is also worth noting that these measures tend to correlate with neu-
roticism, or the tendency to experience negative affect [59], [61–62]. This
overlap with personality is sometimes seen as a problem in EI research,
as it suggests that the measure may not predict variance over and above
personality. We should emphasize again that our goal is not primarily
incremental prediction or the creation of new EI measures. Thus, for our
purposes, it is not a problem if these measures correlate with neuroticism
or other personality measures. In fact, we expect that all the measures
reviewed in this paper reflect processes that lead to neuroticism. Thus, it
would be absurd to posit that they are independent of this variable.
Again, our goal is pragmatic. We seek to reduce suffering. To some
extent, the two personality traits, positive and negative affectivity, are
just two imperfect indices of suffering. They don’t necessarily provide
clues as to what one does about suffering.
Defusing Self-Concepts
The last aspect of our model involves the ability to free oneself, at least
briefly, from fusion with unhelpful self-concepts (see Table 10.1).
Humans develop a concept of self. The mind then proceeds to evaluate it.
We readily evaluate this “self” as “good,” “bad,” “kind,” “flawed,”
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220 Ciarrochi and Blackledge
“incomplete,” “special,” and/or “unethical.” Cognitive fusion means we
tend to treat these evaluations as literal properties of our self. For exam-
ple, we can evaluate a cup as “bad,” but this badness is not a formal or
direct property of the cup—a property that can be directly perceived by
one of the five senses. “Roundness” or “hardness” can be said to be a
formal property of the cup, but abstract notions like “badness” or “good-
ness,” with no directly perceivable physical referent, cannot be consid-
ered a formal property of the cup. Similarly, abstract verbalizations like
“bad” or “good” cannot be said to be an innate property of the “self.”
While logical or pseudo-logical arguments might conclude that one is
“bad,” such an abstraction relies on arbitrary (but conventionalized) cri-
teria and thus is not as uniformly verifiable as one’s physical properties
and attributes.
This apparently philosophical distinction between formal (physical sen-
sible) and abstract stimulus properties actually has some vital and pertinent
implications for human suffering. If abstractions inherent to negative
evaluations and problematic verbal rules literally do not have concrete
physical referents like those that formally descriptive words have, then
these abstractions are not formally binding. The universe does not know
or care if one is “bad” or “good” because the concepts of badness and
goodness are simply verbal constructions. They are not immutable truths,
but rather are verbal illusions that need not have a binding domination
over one’s life. Yet humans tend to confuse the nebulous quality of
evaluations (“I’m bad”) with the solidity of formal descriptions (“I’m
made up of about 70% water”). If you believe badness was a primary
property of your self, then it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to
change [3], [32].
Problems arise when people come to identify with unhelpful self-con-
cepts. Whatever verbal concept of “me” I have becomes, for all practical
purposes, the equal of the actual “me.” People are then drawn into pro-
tecting the concept of self as if it is part of the self [3]. They seek to feed
it, or defend it against attack. People begin to talk about “building self-
esteem” or repairing “damage” done to it. They become “hurt” when
someone “attacks” their self-esteem.
Low self-esteem seems to involve at least two parts: negative evalua-
tions of the entire self (“I am worthless”) and fusion with these evalu-
ations. In other words, one could have a negative self-evaluation yet
not believe (fuse with) it. Undermining fusion with self-concepts is very
different from “building self-esteem.” The goal in undermining fusion is
not to get rid of the negative evaluations and replace them with posi-
tive evaluations. Rather, it is to accept the negative self-evaluations as
words that may inevitably show up, and to look at them, rather than
through them.
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Mindfulness-based EI Training 221
Individual Differences in Fusing with Unhelpful
Self-Concepts and Well-Being
It appears to be reasonably well established that low self-esteem is asso-
ciated with higher levels of negative affect [4]. Self esteem is often meas-
ured using a self-report scale by Rosenberg [63]. It also appears to be
measured by the Bar-On emotional quotient inventory [64].
What is somewhat more surprising is that some aspects of high self-
esteem have been associated with poor well-being, at least in some cir-
cumstances [65–66]. For example, the Narcissist Personality Inventory
(NPI) assesses a person’s sense grandiosity, self-importance, and special-
ness [67]. Narcissists scan the social context for evidence that supports
their elevated sense of self and tend to construct high self-esteem in the
absence of objective evidence. Their self-esteem is fragile, and they are
prone to respond to threatening feedback with shame, humiliation,
anger, and interpersonal aggression [68].
A related line of research has examined individual differences in the
stability of self-esteem. Stability can be measured by administering a stan-
dard self-esteem inventory at multiple times, and then using the variance
between different measurements to predict outcomes [65]. People who
have unstable high self-esteem have been shown to experience more
anger and hostility, perhaps because they feel the “need” to defend their
self-worth [65]. Other research shows that unstable self-esteem is associ-
ated with goal-related affect characterized by greater tenseness and less
interest [69].
Effective Action Orientation
Effective action orientation (EAO) involves the ability to take value-
congruent action in the context of strong emotions and self-doubts. It
also involves the ability to sustain this action even in the face of incon-
sistent feedback, frustration, and failure (see Table 10.1).
Measuring Effective Action Orientation
There are a number of well-researched measures of people’s self-control,
or the ability of people to manage their lives, hold their tempers, keep
their diets, fulfill their promises, stop after a couple of drinks, save money,
persevere at work, and keep secrets [70].
The action-state orientation scale measures people’s ability to move from
a desired goal state to some future goal state (action orientation) versus
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222 Ciarrochi and Blackledge
their tendency to engage in persistent, ruminative thoughts, which
reduces the resources available for goal striving [71]. Strong action ori-
entation is associated with lower levels of anxiety, depression, and
rigidity, higher levels of positive attitudes, positive job-related positive
behavior, and better performance in cognitive and athletic tasks
[71–73].
The self-control scale is another measure of action orientation. Self-control
purportedly involves the ability to “override or change one’s inner
responses, as well as to interrupt undesired behavioral tendencies and
refrain from acting on them” [70, p. 274]. This conceptualization of self-
control runs contrary to MBEIT, which suggests that one does not have
to change one’s inner responses to act effectively [3]. However, an exam-
ination of the self-control scale reveals that every single item focuses on
behavior, rather than inner responses (e.g., “I do certain things that are
bad for me, even if they are fun”). Thus, whilst this conceptualization is
inconsistent with ACT, the scale is in fact consistent. Research has
demonstrated the validity of this scale and shown that high self-control is
related to higher grade point average, lower levels of anxiety and depres-
sion, less alcohol abuse, and better relationships [70].
Self-control can be measured using behavioral tasks, as well as the self-
report measures described above. Specifically, a substantial amount of
developmental research has looked at children’s ability to delay gratifica-
tion in particular situations [74–76]. For example, one study offered ado-
lescents $7 immediate payment or $10 one week later [76]. Compared to
students who delayed gratification, those who chose the immediate fee
showed more self-regulatory failures, such as greater use of drugs and
greater academic underperformance. In another study, pre-school chil-
dren where offered the choice of one marshmallow immediately versus
two at a later time. This task predicted performance 10 years later.
Specifically, it was found that the children who delayed gratification were
more academically and socially competent and more able to deal well
with frustration and stress [74].
MBEIT and Other EI Frameworks
The MBEIT model seeks to specify the causes or “normal” human suffer-
ing that are expected to be relevant to every language able human being
(see above paragraphs on FEAR). Much of the theory and evidence for
MBEIT comes from the clinical domain. It’s distinctive emphasis is on
intervening to improve emotional functioning.. It does not seek to speci-
fy how emotional information is processed, unless such a specification is
of direct relevance to an intervention.
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Mindfulness-based EI Training 223
In contrast, Mayer’s Ability model of EI (see Chapter 1 in this volume)
developed out of basic research in emotion and in intelligence. Their the-
ory seeks to specify how emotional information processing occurs and
can be located within a mechanistic philosophical framework (see
Chapter 2 in this volume). One key premise of this framework is that if
the information processing and emotions systems can be understood,
then it will help researchers to plan interventions.
Finally, there are a number of empirically driven models of emotional
intelligence, most notably that of Bar-On [64] and Goleman [77]. These
approaches have used research and past experience to identify emotion-
ally relevant characteristics that appear to be useful for people at work,
in relationships, and other domains. For example, Goleman’s model [77]
includes such characteristics as impulse control, hope, enthusiasm, social
adroitness, and character. Bar-On’s model [64] includes empathy, social
responsibility, flexibility, problem solving, and happiness.
At the conceptual level, there is remarkablely little overlap between
the major approaches. For example, value-laden dimensions such as
“character” and “social responsibility” are found in the empirically driv-
en models, but not in MBEIT or ability-based models. The approaches
also differ in their emphasis on measuring ability versus measuring typi-
cal performance (MBEIT and empirical approaches). One may in princi-
ple have a high potential to act effectively, but often fail to do so (e.g.,
when one is not motivated to do so).
We believe that the different approaches may have the ability to inform
each other. MBEIT may suggest dimensions of optimal performance that are
not currently measured by the Mayer’s ability-based measure of EI (the
MSCEIT). For example, the future MSCEIT may measure the ability to act
effectively even when experiencing strong emotion and impulses (termed
“effective action oriention” in our approach). Similarly, the ability-based
approach may suggest useful directions for interventions that are not cur-
rently captured in the MBEIT model. For example, one might examine how
to improve the “emotional facilitation” dimension of Mayer’s ability model.
There is certainly much integrative research that still needs to be done.
Conclusions
We have presented a framework, which captures the core processes
(FEAR) that are proposed to underlie emotionally unintelligent behavior
and suffering. This framework helps to organize a substantial amount of
individual difference research, and structure it in such a way that it can
be linked to a coherent theory. Previously, many of the measures
reviewed here were treated in isolation. Research involving one measure
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224 Ciarrochi and Blackledge
rarely made reference to other, seemingly related measures. Researchers
thus risked “rediscovering” what had already been found with the other
measures. This review will hopefully prompt researchers to look across
research areas and to gain a better understanding of how their research
fits in with the other research.
Importantly, this framework allows one to connect each of the individ-
ual difference measures to a coherent intervention strategy [3]. The
measures may be useful in guiding the intervention strategies (e.g., in
specifying what processes most needs to be targeted). They may also be
useful in measuring progress in the intervention. Future research is need-
ed to evaluate these possibilities.
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... This result is consistent with previous studies in which high repair was negatively associated with anxiety in individuals with GAD [24]. The result that repair is important for anxiety symptoms is in line with previous studies suggesting that emotional intelligence has the potential to effectively treat emotional avoidance, which is typical in anxiety disorders [52]. Indeed, if individuals with anxiety can accept the unpleasant emotions associated with thinking about a threat image, they should be facilitated in using effective problem-solving strategies and, at the same time, should be less likely to use cognitive avoidance strategies. ...
... If greater ability to be mindful and manage emotions is associated with high levels of well-being and low levels of anxiety, future research could examine whether mindfulness interventions, based on the development of emotional intelligence skills and targeting brooding and worry of individuals with GAD, might lead to positive health. Relating to this point, some recent therapeutic approaches have integrated mindfulness and emotional intelligence to reduce human suffering and promote human functioning [52]. We hypothesize that these approaches, aimed at developing the ability to experience emotions without impeding effective actions (e.g., problem-focused coping), would reduce the suffering of individuals with GAD and promote their PWB. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background Whether mindfulness and emotional intelligence may counteract psychological symptoms and whether brooding and worry may be linked to decreased psychological well-being (PWB) in individuals with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is still an issue. Methods The study used a cross-sectional design on a sample of 66 consecutive individuals with a diagnosis of GAD. Two hierarchical multiple regressions were conducted to determine whether PWB and anxiety symptoms were accounted for by mindfulness and emotional intelligence skills, brooding, and worry. Results Worry was negatively related to PWB and showed a tendency to be positively associated with anxiety symptoms after controlling for the other variables. Brooding was uniquely and positively related to anxiety symptoms. Different mindfulness (i.e., describing and nonjudging) and emotional intelligence (i.e., attention and repair) skills were particularly important for PWB. Repair was also negatively related to anxiety symptoms. Conclusions Repair was the variable that played a key role in the association with both PWB and GAD symptoms. Worry was the second most important variable, although it approached significance in the relationship with anxiety symptoms. Brooding was more strongly positively associated with anxiety than worry. In sum, the results suggest that an integrated and balanced focus on both positive and negative functioning will be useful in future clinical psychology research to predict, understand, and treat anxiety as well as to examine the antecedents and characteristics of positivity in individuals with GAD and promote their PWB.
... Many advocates suggest that EI can be enhanced via specific training programs (Gardner 2006;Hansen, Gardner and Stough 2007;Parker, Saklofske, Wood, and Collin 2009;Poole and Saklofske 2009;Vesely et al. 2014).Several such programs exist, and they usually aim to develop or improve emotional self-management and regulation. Examples include: 'Mindfulness-based EI Training' (Ciarrochi, Blackledge, Bilich and Bayliss 2007); a Theorybased Practical Training for EI Skills (Kornacki and Caruso 2007); and an EI training program designed for teachers and students, titled "Emotional Intelligence in the Classroom" (Hansen 2010). In one study, EI training was found to be effective in increasing self-reported EI, organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and in reducing occupational stress (Gardner 2006). ...
Chapter
The working world has been undergoing a continuous and gradual process of flexibility, heterogeneity, and complexity of the regulatory mechanisms of work, something which has generated significant impacts and deep changes on many dimensions, revealing new scenarios, in addition to generating precariousness and vulnerability of a large part of the population in all countries. In that sense, the knowledge and strategies developed in the Latin American researches and practices in the career counseling field are potentially important in today's working world, because Latin America is a region in the world where this situation has always been present due to contexts and situations of socioeconomic inequality and psychosocial vulnerability, which often produces discontinuous, fragmented and intermittent work trajectories, despite the recent development of some countries like Brazil. Besides, some countries in the northern hemisphere, which have been under a welfare state for decades, are nowadays living under precarious work conditions with high rates of unemployment, and with an increasing demand of theories and strategies to face flexible and unstable situations. Thus, based on research and practices systematically developed in recent decades, inspired on the Life Design paradigm and grounded on the social constructionist perspective, the main objective of this chapter is to highlight general principles to career counseling in order to deal with situations of psychosocial vulnerability and flexicurity. To this end, the chapter will present and discuss: (a) The challenges that the working world have generated for contemporary workers, mainly through situations of flexicurity and psychosocial vulnerability; (b) The challenges for the career counseling field to face these situations; (c) The general principles of social constructionism, in terms of ontology, epistemology, methodology and ethical-political project, in dealing with the contemporary challenges; (d) The basic concepts of the proposed career counseling (psychosocial approach, psychosocial reality, psychosocial relation, practices, narratives, discourses, decent work, psychosocial vulnerability and psychosocial career); (e) A proposal for a theoretical and technical framework, in addition to an ethical-political project, for the career counseling inspired on the Life Design paradigm and based on social constructionism with some examples of practices with groups of people in situations of flexicurity and psychosocial vulnerability, among them, young people who are institutionalized, people with mental diseases, disabled people and unemployed. As a conclusion, it must be stated that the heterogeneity and the complexity of the current working world have required assumptions that ought to help in the understanding of it, and, at the same time, it might give support in the construction of analysis categories of the psychosocial phenomena of this working world, mainly for the ones who live in a vulnerable situation and have to face instability their entire lives.
... As is also referenced elsewhere in this dissertation, multiple studies indicate that mindfulness practice has a positive influence on the development of emotional intelligence competencies such as emotional self-awareness (Ciarrochi, Blackledge, Bilich and Bayliss, 2007;Epstein, 1990). For example, Chu (2010) assessed 351 meditators by levels of meditation experience and reported a relationship between higher levels of measured emotional intelligence and greater meditation experience, implying that mindfulness practice may contribute to the development of emotional intelligence competencies. ...
Thesis
Full-text available
This qualitative research study examined detailed reports by senior organizational leaders linking mindfulness to improved leadership effectiveness. Extensive research supports the existence of a relationship between mindfulness and cognitive, physiological, and psychological benefits that may also have a positive impact on leadership effectiveness. Currently, however, little is known about the processes potentially enabling mindfulness to directly influence leadership effectiveness, and as a result this study was designed to explore this gap in the literature. Data was collected through in-depth interviews with forty-two organizational leaders in North and South America and Europe, many with a history of leadership roles at multiple global organizations. Participants credited mindfulness for contributing to enduring improvements to leadership capabilities, and data analysis revealed new findings clarifying the perceived relationship between mindfulness and tangible results for organizational leaders. Specifically, the results indicate that mindfulness is perceived to contribute to the development of behaviors and changes to awareness associated with improved leadership effectiveness. A potential relationship between mindfulness and the development of emotional intelligence competencies linked to increased leadership performance was also revealed through ESCI 360 analysis. The contribution of this study to current literature is also discussed, as are recommendations for future research.
... As is also referenced elsewhere in this dissertation, multiple studies indicate that mindfulness practice has a positive influence on the development of emotional intelligence competencies such as emotional self-awareness (Ciarrochi, Blackledge, Bilich and Bayliss, 2007;Epstein, 1990). For example, Chu (2010) assessed 351 meditators by levels of meditation experience and reported a relationship between higher levels of measured emotional intelligence and greater meditation experience, implying that mindfulness practice may contribute to the development of emotional intelligence competencies. ...
Article
Full-text available
This qualitative research study examined detailed reports by senior organizational leaders linking mindfulness to improved leadership effectiveness. Extensive research supports the existence of a relationship between mindfulness and cognitive, physiological, and psychological benefits that may also have a positive impact on leadership effectiveness. Currently, however, little is known about the processes potentially enabling mindfulness to directly influence leadership effectiveness, and as a result this study was designed to explore this gap in the literature. Data was collected through in-depth interviews with forty-two organizational leaders in North and South America and Europe, many with a history of leadership roles at multiple global organizations. Participants credited mindfulness for contributing to enduring improvements to leadership capabilities, and data analysis revealed new findings clarifying the perceived relationship between mindfulness and tangible results for organizational leaders. Specifically, the results indicate that mindfulness is perceived to contribute to the development of behaviors and changes to awareness associated with improved leadership effectiveness. A potential relationship between mindfulness and the development of emotional intelligence competencies linked to increased leadership performance was revealed as well. The contribution of this study to current literature is also discussed, as are recommendations for future research.^ Keywords: mindfulness, organizational leadership, emotional intelligence, leadership effectiveness, leadership development, mindful leadership, leader empathy, leader emotional self-awareness, leader emotional self-management, leader social awareness, leader relationship management
... This study found that adolescents seem to increase in self-compassion and decrease in depressive symptoms when compared to a waitlist control group, and actually self-compassion predicted increases in depression after the intervention (Bluth et al. 2016). In regard to emotional intelligence, Ciarrochi et al. (2007) created the Mindfulness-Based Intelligence Training, which is an Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) adaptation for the organizational context. Nevertheless, the latter is not specifically designed to address adolescence-specific issues, which seems to be an evidence for the need to designing programs that promote the development of emotional intelligence skills in adolescence. ...
Article
Full-text available
Several studies have highlighted the adaptive role of self-compassion on human suffering and on a wide range of psychopathological conditions. Extensive research has shown that emotional intelligence has been associated with well-being, mental and physical health and quality of interpersonal relationships. We set out to explore the mediating role of self-compassion and emotional intelligence on the relationship between shame traumatic memories and depressive symptoms, and to explore if these were different between female and male adolescents. The sample was composed of 1101 adolescents from general population, whose age ranged from 14 to 18 years. Participants filled out a battery of self-report questionnaires designed to measure shame traumatic memories, self-compassion, emotional intelligence and depressive symptoms. Correlational analysis showed that in male and female adolescents, shame traumatic memories are associated with more depressive symptoms and with lower levels of self-compassion and emotional intelligence. Multigroup analysis showed that emotional intelligence has a greater impact on depression in female adolescents. Also, the impact of shame traumatic memories on depression is stronger in males, even though females report shame traumatic memories as more impactful. This study provides preliminary evidence that self-compassion and emotional intelligence are important emotion regulation processes for depressive symptoms in adolescence.
... Examples include: 'Mindfulness-based EI Training' (Ciarrochi, Blackledge, Bilich, & Bayliss, 2007); a Theory-based Practical Training for EI Skills (Kornacki& Caruso, 2007); and an EI training program designed for teachers and students, titled "Emotional Intelligence in the Classroom" (Hansen, 2010). ...
Article
Full-text available
Acceptance en Commitment Therapy (ACT) behoort tot de derde generatie gedragstherapie. Dit artikel bespreekt de toepassing van ACT voor de doelgroep van patiënten met hersentrauma (TBI, traumatic brain injury), voor zowel kinderen en jongeren als volwassenen. Deze aanpak is ruimer toepasbaar op patiënten met epilepsie, degeneratieve hersenpathologie zoals Parkinson, dementiële processen, Multiple sclerose, enz. Er is ook een belangrijke overlap met ontwikkelings-neuropsychologische problemen, aangezien het qua aanpak vaak niet uitmaakt of het een verworven vorm of ontwikkelingsvariant betreft (Leoni, Corti & Cavagnola, 2015; Whiting, Deane, Simpson, McLeod & Ciarrochi, 2017; Whiting, Deane, McLeod, Ciarrochi & Simpson, 2020). Johan Pahnke heeft dit goed begrepen en biedt met zijn NeuroACT-programma een aanbod dat op beide doelgroepen, verworven of ontwikkelingsvariant, gericht is vanuit een insteek die vertrekt van executieve functies (Pahnke, Lundgren, Hursti, & Hirvikoski, 2013; Pahnke e.a., 2019). We bieden een summier overzicht van het klinisch model van ACT, toegepast op deze doelgroep en hoe ACT zich in een ‘breinvriendelijke’ vorm van therapie schrijft.
Chapter
High stress levels and rising rates of burnout within the teaching occupation call for novel means of improving teacher stress management and well-being, which are key to effective teaching and student success. Growing evidence indicates that developing emotional intelligence (EI) through training can positively impact a wide range of psychological outcomes, leading to improved health and well-being, and would appear to have direct application to supporting teacher wellness. This chapter reviews a program of research on EI training delivered to several groups of preservice teachers with the purpose of both enhancing EI competencies and reducing the stresses associated with teaching. Each phase of the training added and improved upon the initial program, ensured program fidelity, and assessed a range of outcomes. Outcome evaluation studies indicated that participants’ trait EI increased at post-program and at 1- and 6-month follow-ups compared to control participants who did not receive the EI training. Further, the program participants’ stress indicators decreased alongside an increase in adaptive coping, resiliency, and teacher efficacy. Ultimately, EI training is aimed at preventing teacher burnout by building the capacity to manage the everyday challenges of the classroom. Such empirically based EI programs are recommended as a direct and systemic component of professional development for teachers prior to and throughout their teaching careers.
Chapter
The goal of this chapter is to apply the work that we have done thus far to the psychological notion of emotional intelligence. No doubt my reader has already heard the term “emotional intelligence” and has some associations brought to mind by it, largely due to the prevalence of media attention given to the idea in recent years. Some psychologists are positively giddy at the amount of popular attention their field is receiving; others are suspicious and denounce the whole notion as “pop psychology.” Here I review the research being done on emotional intelligence in order to clarify the concept. We shall see that there is a great deal of disagreement between psychologists over the meaning of the term. Some accounts stand out for their accuracy, while others, like Daniel Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence (which led to the popularity of the term itself), are problematic. Definitions that focus on the automatic nature of emotions prove unable to explain the means by which people might become more emotionally intelligent, as does identifying or assimilating emotional intelligence with cognitive intelligence. The focus on emotionally intelligent behavior, on the other hand, which we see in the work of those who focus on the practical question of teaching emotional intelligence, resists positing a latent, innate ability and instead focuses on achieving psychological health.
Article
Objective: Emergency situations can generate negative affect in medical personnel, which can negatively impact on the quality of care. Several studies have demonstrated a positive influence of emotional competence (EC) on negative affect. The goal of this study was to test the effect of EC level on simulated emergency care situation in medical residents. Methods: The sample included 21 medical residents caring for a simulated seriously wounded person whose condition suddenly deteriorated. Medical performance was scored by expert medical doctors (MDs). EC level and affective states were evaluated with self-assessment questionnaires. Finally, the origin of the negative affect experienced by the residents was identified through individual interviews. Results: Higher EC levels were found to be associated with better medical performance and a lower intensity of negative affect. The latter two variables were found to correlate negatively. The main source of negative affect for residents was the inability to establish a diagnosis, regardless of their EC level and their medical performance. Conclusions: The results suggest that residents who have a high EC level are better able to manage negative affect, so that they are better able to put their medical knowledge to work and explore alternative diagnoses. Emotional-management training for residents who, as new MDs, have limited experience may be beneficial to complement simulation exercises. Additional studies should be considered to better define the links between the affect experienced by MDs and their thought processes during establishment of a diagnosis.
Article
It was hypothesized that women are more vulnerable to depressive symptoms than men because they are more likely to experience chronic negative circumstances (or strain), to have a low sense of mastery, and to engage in ruminative coping. The hypotheses were tested in a 2-wave study of approximately 1,100 community-based adults who were 25 to 75 years old. Chronic strain, low mastery, and rumination were each more common in women than in men and mediated the gender difference in depressive symptoms. Rumination amplified the effects of mastery and, to some extent, chronic strain on depressive symptoms. In addition, chronic strain and rumination had reciprocal effects on each other over time, and low mastery also contributed to more rumination. Finally, depressive symptoms contributed to more rumination and less mastery over time.
Article
A functional contextual conceptualization of posttraumatic stress is detailed. The preliminary model considers the role of several psychological processes that work to increase trauma victims' exposure to aversive stimulation and decrease their access to stable and long-term sources of positive reinforcement. These processes include cognitive fusion with negative evaluations, problematic behavioral rules, and recollections of traumatic events. Other processes addressed include experiential avoidance, skills deficits and excesses, stimulus discrimination problems, long-term effects of heightened physiological arousal, and physical barriers to positive reinforcement imposed by trauma. The article concludes with a discussion of assessment and treatment implications.
Article
College students (N = 24) experiencing math anxiety were treated individually for 6 weeks with either acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) or systematic desensitization. Statistical analyses indicated significant, but equivalent, reductions in self-report measures of math and test anxiety that were maintained at 2-month follow-up. Both statistically and clinically significant decrements in trait anxiety were limited to participants treated with systematic desensitization. No improvement in mathematical skills was noted for either treatment. As expected, pretreatment levels of experiential avoidance were more strongly related to therapeutic change among participants receiving ACT, suggesting that the two interventions, although generally comparable in reducing math anxiety, may do so through different processes. Implications of the findings for further research on ACT more generally and treatment of math anxiety, in particular, are discussed.
Book
An ACT Approach Chapter 1. What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy? Steven C. Hayes, Kirk D. Strosahl, Kara Bunting, Michael Twohig, and Kelly G. Wilson Chapter 2. An ACT Primer: Core Therapy Processes, Intervention Strategies, and Therapist Competencies. Kirk D. Strosahl, Steven C. Hayes, Kelly G. Wilson and Elizabeth V. Gifford Chapter 3. ACT Case Formulation. Steven C. Hayes, Kirk D. Strosahl, Jayson Luoma, Alethea A. Smith, and Kelly G. Wilson ACT with Behavior Problems Chapter 4. ACT with Affective Disorders. Robert D. Zettle Chapter 5. ACT with Anxiety Disorders. Susan M. Orsillo, Lizabeth Roemer, Jennifer Block-Lerner, Chad LeJeune, and James D. Herbert Chapter 6. ACT with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Alethea A. Smith and Victoria M. Follette Chapter 7. ACT for Substance Abuse and Dependence. Kelly G. Wilson and Michelle R. Byrd Chapter 8. ACT with the Seriously Mentally Ill. Patricia Bach Chapter 9. ACT with the Multi-Problem Patient. Kirk D. Strosahl ACT with Special Populations, Settings, and Methods Chapter 10. ACT with Children, Adolescents, and their Parents. Amy R. Murrell, Lisa W. Coyne, & Kelly G. Wilson Chapter 11. ACT for Stress. Frank Bond. Chapter 12. ACT in Medical Settings. Patricia Robinson, Jennifer Gregg, JoAnne Dahl, & Tobias Lundgren Chapter 13. ACT with Chronic Pain Patients. Patricia Robinson, Rikard K. Wicksell, Gunnar L. Olsson Chapter 14. ACT in Group Format. Robyn D. Walser and Jacqueline Pistorello