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Activation and escalation of fear within the framework of exposure therapies is generally seen as distinctive predictors of the success of behavioral therapies. Nevertheless, in the general practice of cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT), direct induction of emotions can probably be regarded rather the exception than the rule. To expand the traditional procedure we propose an experiential format with the aid of which emotional processes can be induced. We will present a well-structured process that allows intense emotional work in seven steps. The body can support the process of emotional activation and regulation. Many studies regarding embodied cognition have found that movements of parts of the body or the whole body, gestures and mimics are related to people’s evaluations as well as motivational and emotional processes. Especially by instructing persons to take a special body posture, mimic and breathing pattern will lead them to experience distinct emotions. We use these findings to create embodiment techniques for a new and activating approach regarding deep emotional work. Starting with a client’s concrete problematic situation we construct with him an emotional field. Problems of emotional over-or underregulations are identified. Adequate regulatory strategies are developed and experienced also with the aid of the body. Emotional mastery may help to match the intensity of the emotions with the client’s goals. A case example is presented.
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Gernot Hauke & Mirta Dall'Occhio: Emotional Activation Therapy (EAT)
European Psychotherapy/Vol. 11 No. 1. 2013
Gernot Hauke and Mirta Dall'Occhio
Emotional Activation Therapy (EAT):
Intense work with different emotions in a cognitive
behavioral setting
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ABSTRACT
Activation and escalation of fear within the framework of exposure therapies is generally
seen as distinctive predictors of the success of behavioral therapies. Nevertheless, in the
general practice of cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT), direct induction of emotions can
probably be regarded rather the exception than the rule. To expand the traditional proce-
dure we propose an experiential format with the aid of which emotional processes can be
induced. We will present a well-structured process that allows intense emotional work in
seven steps. The body can support the process of emotional activation and regulation.
Many studies regarding embodied cognition have found that movements of parts of the
body or the whole body, gestures and mimics are related to people’s evaluations as well
as motivational and emotional processes. Especially by instructing persons to take a special
body posture, mimic and breathing pattern will lead them to experience distinct emotions.
We use these findings to create embodiment techniques for a new and activating approach
regarding deep emotional work. Starting with a client’s concrete problematic situation we
construct with him an emotional field. Problems of emotional over- or underregulations are
identified. Adequate regulatory strategies are developed and experienced also with the aid
of the body. Emotional mastery may help to match the intensity of the emotions with the
client’s goals. A case example is presented.
Keywords: emotional activation, cognitive behavioral therapy, embodied cognition, emo-
tion regulation
1. Emotional activation as an effective ingredient
In the general practice of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), direct induction of emotions can
probably be regarded rather the exception than the rule. SAMOILOV and GOLDFRIED (2000) even
go as far as to say that this has remained “terra incognita” in both research and clinical practice.
On the other hand, we have known for a long time now that activation and escalation of fear
within the framework of behavioral therapy exposure treatments can be essential predicators
of the success of therapy (FOA and KOZA K, 1986). WATSON and BEDARD (2006) compared the
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therapy results of CBT clients with those who had completed an experiential therapy. The CBT
client group showed a significantly poorer outcome combined with a substantially lower emo-
tional processing depth. Inspired by results in basic research, in recent years researchers have
been focusing more on the significance of emotional processes as effective factors in therapy.
Independently of the respective therapy approaches, clinical research has found that the emo-
tional activation, its intensity and the processing of the emotional experience in therapy, are
decisive for its success (GREENBERG and SAFRAN, 1987; BEUTLER et al., 2000; IWAKABE et al., 2000;
WHELTON, 2004; ZNOJ, 2004; WAT SON and BEDARD, 2006). Independently of disorder-specific
therapy concepts or specific mental disorders, emotion-related interventions increase the effi-
ciency of psychotherapy (MOSES and BARLOW, 2006; BERKING et al., 2008). In the following we
describe an experience-oriented procedure with the aid of which emotional processes can be
induced in the setting of cognitive behavioral therapies. We develop a work format with which
problematic associations between stimuli, reactions and meanings are replaced by less prob-
lematic associations. These alternative associations ultimately make new experiences possible,
which we support within the framework of a targeted process.
2. Clinically relevant aspects of emotion
A first working definition characterizes emotions as current states of individuals, differing in
terms of quality and intensity, which are aimed at an object, give the persons concerned a
characteristic experience, and often lead to physiological changes and certain types of behavior
(MEYER et al., 1993). An essential part of the therapeutic work consists in the components of
an emotional episode and their functions (SCH ERER, 2005):
Evaluation of objects and events (appraisal component)
System regulation (neurophysiologic component, physical symptoms)
Preparation and orientation of actions (motivational component, impulses to act)
Communication of intentions (expression component, motion, language)
Monitoring of the inner state and of the interaction with the environment
(experience component, subjective perception).
With a close eye on this interaction, BARRETT and CAMPOS (1987, p. 558) conceive of emotions
as mutually oriented processes of the generation, maintenance and/or interruption of relation-
ships between the individual and the external or internal environment (BARRETT and CAMPOS,
1987, p. 558). Every form of interaction between the individual and his environment is accom-
panied by a “family” of different emotions (FOGEL et al., 1992).
2.1 Activation of emotions
The individual is the architect of his own emotional experience (BARRETT, 2006; BARRETT ET AL.,
2007; FRIJDA, 2007; HOLODYNSKI, 2006; RUSSELL, 2003). A constructivist approach towards
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describing this process assumes that our brain is constantly creating mental states such as
emotions; physical states etc. using what is referred to as situated conceptualizations (Barrett,
2006; Barsalou, 2009). Three information sources are combined: sensory stimuli outside of
the body, sensory signals from inside the body, i. e. the somato-visceral stimulation – the so-
called internal milieu as well as previous experiences, i.e. memory content and categorial
knowledge of the respective learning history (see Fig. 1).
Fig. 1: Activation of emotions
Fig. 1 illustrates the process somewhat more clearly. External (e. g. a certain trigger situation)
and internal stimuli (e. g. an imagined trigger situation) are evaluated with the aid of an
appraisal process which directly causes a somato-visceral stimulation, and the interoception
registers a change in the internal milieu. This is referred to as the core affect (RUSSEL and
FELDMAN-BARRETT, 1999) and describes a direct reaction that indicates whether objects or events
are helpful or harmful, rewarding or threatening, and requires the individual to accept or reject
something. It thus functions as a kind of neurophysiological barometer that reflects the relation-
ship of the person to the flow of ever-changing environmental conditions. These form the basis
for consciousness. Alongside this valence dimension, the core affect is also characterized by an
arousal dimension. This refers to feelings such as excited, active, tense versus calm, quiet,
sleepy. Thus the core affect can be represented in a two-dimensional circumplex (RUSSEL,
2003). The resulting core affect, commonly and appropriately known as the gut feeling, com-
municates feelings of motivation or lack of motivation as well as a certain degree of activation.
Although not entirely determined, it is connected with continuous automatic evaluations or
“primary appraisals” of the situation. The way people conceptualize their affective condition
depends, of course, on their knowledge about the emotion which is being developed. For
example, individuals could experience their core affect as a particular type of fear, anger or
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nervousness – depending on which conceptual knowledge they bring to the situation. Thus the
emotional experience is not only affectively pleasant or unpleasant, but also conceptually reg-
istered and conscious, e.g. as anger.
2.2 Let the body help: effector pattern
The activation of emotions with the aid of the body plays a central role in EAT. At an early stage,
there had already been indications that the induction of emotions with the aid of emotion-
specific facial expressions is possible (EKMAN et al., 1983). The importance of the facial muscles
was also more clearly worked out in the by now classical studies by STRACK et al.(1988), where
it was not the test persons themselves who caused their own facial muscles to adjust, but a
manipulation from outside. This led to the conclusion that even the perception of a physical
change can lead to a change in emotional experience (STRACK et al., 1988; SOUSSIGNAN, 2002).
In recent years it has been quite impressively verified that, alongside the adjustment of the
facial muscles, other physical activities such as bending or stretching the arms, certain motions
of the whole body, postures etc. can have a significant influence on mental regulation. Even
apparently insignificant physical activities obviously place the mind – in what might be called a
bottom-up approach – in a state which is not only clearly reflected by measurements of moti-
vational and emotional variables, but which also has a significant effect on neuro-endocrino-
logical measurements such as testosterone and cortisol values (overview by PRICE et al., 2012).
In the 1970ies – clearly well ahead of their time the working group around SUSANA BLOCH
managed to characterize six basic emotions: joy-laughing, sadness-crying, fear-anxiety, anger,
erotic love and affection by setting certain breathing patterns, postures and facial expressions
(BLOCH and SANTIBANEZ, 1972; SANTIBANEZ and BLOCH, 1986). The authors recorded the breathing
motions, muscle activity, pulse, blood pressure, physical expression and subjective perception.
First a group of test persons was hypnotized and led to experience intense emotional situa-
tions. Another test group was made up of drama students who were asked to place themselves
in emotionally charged life events they had experienced. From the recorded complex viscero-
muscular reactions, a selection was made of those that manifested especially clearly through
the changes in breathing motions, facial expression and posture. The resulting prototypical
configurations of these three features, which are, in principle, under arbitrary control, are
referred to as emotional effector patterns. Now it was possible, by precise execution of physical
activities such as setting breathing rhythm and posture and creating the facial expression, to
generate a certain target emotion (BLOCH ET AL., 1987; BLOCH, 1989). Respiration obviously
plays a leading role in the activation of the emotional pattern. Even from our everyday experi-
ence we know that this assumption is plausible. Anyone who experiences fear, rage, sexual
arousal or sadness will not only notice a clear change in his breathing pattern, but also several
other distinguishing features. This is why it was hoped that a quantification of the respective
respiration parameters would lead to an even deeper insight (BLOCH ET AL., 1991). Here it was
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possible to register important emotion-specific differences. In addition, the evaluation of the
data invariably showed a temporal development, which begins with a mechanical, almost
robotic phase. After some time, however, the complete effector pattern can be seen and the
subjective perception is experienced with increasing clarity. In this phase, the complete emo-
tional scheme is activated. SUSANA BLOCH systemized the instructions for emotion induction,
prepared them didactically and developed a training program entitled “AlbaEmoting” and aimed
particularly at introducing actors to working with authentic emotions (BLOCH, 2006).
Table 1: Instructions for the activation of certain emotions (Bloch, 2006)
STEPOUT: A simple attentiveness exercise that generates an emotional zero point. This exercise is
central as it makes the generated emotions controllable, and is experienced by many participants as a
kind of emergency exit. The stepout is always carried out before and after every exercise in order to
avoid an “emotional hangover”.
BREATHING: The participant breathes slowly in through the nose and out through the slightly opened
mouth. At the end of exhalation, he can consciously take a short break. Movement of the arms syn-
chronously with the breathing can extend the exercise.
BODY POSTURE: Standing upright, the feet spread to the width of the shoulders and parallel, the knees
slightly flexed, the participant fixes his gaze on a fixed point at eye level some meters away.
FACIAL EXPRESSION: Relaxed, eyes not closed, gaze fixed at eye level on a point on the wall.
ANGER
BREATHING: Rapid, deep and gasping breaths through the nose (saw tooth pattern); breathing is 3-4
times deeper and faster than when at rest.
BODY POSTURE: Muscles are tense, especially the shoulders and arms, tendency of forwards motion
(attack).
FACIAL EXPRESSION: Lips pressed tightly together, neck tense, eyes narrowed, a piercing gaze with eye
contact fixed on the other person.
FEAR
BREATHING: Short, rapid, gasping breaths through the mouth, first as in a reaction to fright, then short
exhalation through the mouth which is not deep or complete. Then immediately again short, sharp,
rapid breaths and so on, giving rise to halting, flat chest breathing.
BODY POSTURE: Tense, tendency of backwards motion (flight).
FACIAL EXPRESSION: Lips, cheeks and neck tensed, eyes wide open, gaze fixed on source of danger or
sweeping around looking for the source of danger.
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SADNESS
BREATHING: As when crying, sniffling breaths in steps through the nose. Slow, deep exhalation through the
slightly open mouth, possibly making a sound (light sigh); it is important that the lungs are completely
evacuated. The participant keeps breathing out until the sniffling inhalations almost start automatically.
BODY POSTURE: Loose, the body is allowed to collapse or “melt” when breathing out.
FACIAL EXPRESSION: Loose, relaxed, cheeks hanging, lips loose, eyebrows slightly raised and together
at the middle.
JOY
BREATHING: Deep inhalation through the nose then rapid exhalation through the slightly opened
mouth making a “ha, ha, ha” sound.
BODY POSTURE: Generally loose and relaxed, flexible, upper body rocks slightly back and forth, then is
completely left to itself, whereby the body then begins to rock back and forth in sharp, sudden movements.
FACIAL EXPRESSION: Mouth open, sides of the mouth turned upwards but lips not too tense.
There is no comparably elaborated approach in scientific psychology (see BOITEN et al., 1994;
PHILIPPOT et al., 2002). The physical activities described not only change the internal milieu, the
core affect, but also activate conceptual knowledge (e. g. by setting a certain posture, facial
expression), which means that the respective emotional scheme is completed and then per-
ceived (see Fig. 1). Typically, the corresponding images and thoughts also arise when the effec-
tor patterns are practiced. Of course, having been developed for actors, this training method
cannot be simply applied directly for psychotherapeutic purposes. We integrate the method of
emotion induction in a targeted process, placing special emphasis on the creation of an anchor-
ing context (HAUKE and SPREEMANN, 2012). We are not concerned with achieving perfection in
the depiction of an emotion. Rather, we place value on the induced physical and mental pro-
cesses, yielding indications for diagnosis and correction of the emotional self-regulation.
2.3 Primary and secondary emotions
Once emotions have been activated, this can cause various reactions in the individual himself.
It is helpful, especially in the clinical context, to distinguish between primary and secondary
emotions. Primary emotions are normative, adaptive and universal types of reaction within a
given context, e. g. anger at a barrier to need fulfillment. Secondary emotions, e. g. anxiety, are
a reaction to these primary emotions (GREENBERG and SAFRAN, 1987; SULZ, 1994; FRUZZETTI et al.,
2008). They are learned responses to a primary emotion. This can be represented in a reaction
chain (SULZ, 1994; HAUKE, 2013):
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Primary emotion, triggered reflexively by the situation (e. g. rage)
Primary impulse to act, which is a part of this reflex (e. g. attack)
Anticipation of possible (usually intended or learned) consequences of the intended action
(e. g. being rejected)
Secondary emotion, which is directed against the impulse (e. g. anxiety, shame, guilt) and
helps the individual to refrain from acting on it
Within these reaction chains, the primary emotion for the respective situation is a prototypical
emotion with emotion-specific physiological and behavioral components and a matching core
thematic issue. Thus we can understand, for example, when a person reacts angrily to unjust
treatment by another person. Whether this angry reaction is also adaptive in a certain situation
depends on several conditions. If it triggers massive counter-aggression, or if there is the danger
of losing an important reference person, then the individual has a problem, especially if he feels
inferior at this moment. Thus it can happen that a biologically adaptive emotion no longer
appears socially functional. In order to prevent the undesired consequences and ensure emo-
tional survival, the primary emotion has to be stopped. Effective counteractive emotions include,
for example, anxiety, shame and guilt. Such learning processes lead to a situation where manage-
ment of the primary emotion – in the example here it was rage – no longer takes place and the
emotion usually cannot be functionally used. In principle, any prototypical emotion can be a
primary emotion. For example, a person could primarily experience painful grief as the result of
a loss. From his learning history, however, the person knows that he cannot allow the resulting
inability to act to take over and instead reacts – in the sense of a conditioned emotional
response – angrily. Here the core affect or the gut feeling is interpreted as anger with the aid of
the conceptual knowledge and the information about the triggering situation (Fig. 1). The anger
is then the secondary emotion. Here again the effect of the first, basically adaptive emotion is
interrupted or even completely suspended. With the aid of the conceptual knowledge and the
information about the triggering situation, the core affect or the gut feeling is interpreted as anger
(Fig. 1). Secondary emotions obviously cause a series of maladaptive reactions. The self-regula-
tion of the person no longer corresponds to the original trigger (e. g. highly excited and aggressive
instead of calm and subdued). The signals being sent to the environment trigger the correspond-
ing reactions (e. g. counter-aggression), with the result that the person receives a completely
inadequate social response to the triggering situation (e. g. experience of loss), and so on.
2.4 Differentiate emotions
Some patients are quite capable of distinguishing their emotional experiences on a high level
of differentiation. With astounding precision they can identify and describe diverse nuances of
their emotional experiences. Others, however, are only capable of circumscribing their percep-
tions with qualities such as “I feel good” or “I feel bad”. People who are not good at describing
their emotional experiences more precisely will not be able to use emotions as the source of
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a wide range of action-related information either. Patients with a less pronounced capacity for
differentiation are also more likely to simply bear any physiological perceptions accompanying
the emotional stimulation, to misinterpret them or even to reinforce them. They are floating,
so to speak, in the ocean of the core affect. The emotional process is not completed; as the
trigger conditions have not been appropriately allocated, access to conceptual knowledge is
obstructed, the conceptual knowledge is imprecise, and so on. On the other hand, people who
can differentiate their emotions generally tend to be substantially better at managing negative
emotions. They have a greater diversity of regulation strategies and, eventually, are also con-
siderably more successful in their efforts to cope with negative emotions (BARRETT ET AL., 2001;
KANG and SHAVER, 2004). These findings support the assumption that well developed emotion
identification skills generally increase psychological flexibility and, in particular, promote good
self-regulation. In therapy it is often necessary to strike a balance between the three informa-
tion sources trigger conditions, core affect and practical knowledge in order to identify a
core thematic issue (LAZARUS, 1991) (see also Fig. 1). In connection with high stress levels and
intense negative emotions, there should be an especially high need for an efficient regulation
of emotions (BARR ETT ET AL., 2001; GOHM, 2003). Anyone who has difficulties identifying emo-
tional states and describing them in a differentiated manner is more likely to use unfavorable
strategies for the regulation of negative emotions, such as abuse of alcohol and other drugs,
binge eating etc. (TAYLOR ET AL., 1997). These maladaptive regulation strategies represent a kind
of emergency solution. As there is no access to the emotions, the information contained
therein cannot be used to develop suitable solution alternatives for difficult situations. This
means that, for example, anger has to be actually perceived and identified as such for an
emotional core thematic issue to be accessed, which in turn contains instructions for action to
deal with the situation. Instead, the individual resorts to emergency regulation strategies such
as binge eating, alcohol abuse etc.
2.5 Regulation of emotions
Emotional activation can help a person to experience emotions in their respective perception
quality and in their effect on the activated person himself and his momentary environment.
Although this is already a major therapeutic advance, further measures are necessary in order
to ensure permanent behavior modification. The objective is, after all, to enable the patient to
manage his emotions and the related targets more functionally than before. In other words,
this means that the patient’s self-regulation and – as a special case – his emotional regulation
are improved. In connection with emotion regulation, THOM PSON (1994) cites extrinsic and
intrinsic processes used to monitor, evaluate and modify emotional reactions. In particular, the
temporal development and the degree of emotional intensity should be coordinated in such a
way that the corresponding targets can also be achieved. GROSS and THOMP SON (2007) cite a
total of 5 intervention points at which individuals can regulate their emotions. (a) Situation
selection, (b) situation modification, (c) attentional deployment, (d) cognitive change and (e)
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response modulation. These aspects can be readily implemented in behavioral therapy. They
are used in particular in the last step of our approach that we refer to as “emotional mastery”.
3. The working protocol in EAT
In our method emotional activation takes place in two ways:
by scenic imagination and
by deployment of the effector patterns.
In so doing, we observe the behavior therapeutic principles of mindfulness deployment, expo-
sure and discrimination learning (Fig. 2).
Fig. 2: Steps of Emotional Activation Therapy (EAT).
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Patients have to learn how to perceive the diversity of their emotions and to identify them,
particularly in problem situations. By direct perception they experience the effects of primary
and secondary emotions as well as the diversity of other emotions involved. A prerequisite of
this is that they can bear unpleasant or often avoided emotions. In addition, they also have to
experience how different impulses to act of diverse emotions “feel” for their core thematic
issue to be reliably identified. The final step is concerned with linking emotions and targets. The
“mastery of emotion” ultimately describes the ability to use emotions functionally for the
achievement of personal targets in the relevant problem situation.
Preparatory work and survival strategy. First the usual behavior therapy data is collected, e.g.
learning history, behavior observations, data on symptoms and their history etc. This data is then
used to develop what is called the survival strategy. It reflects dysfunctional behaviors in terms
of the fulfillment of central needs and thus contains important information for working with EAT.
The survival strategy is a generally unconscious cognitive-affective scheme boiling the patient’s
problem down (HAUKE and SULZ, 2006; HAUKE, 2013). Variations of such schemes are also used
in other methods (e. g. ROUSSOS et al., 2005; YOUNG et al., 2005) and are just as helpful here.
STEP 1: MINDFULNESS AND BODY FOCUS
In many cases patients are unable to either identify or discriminate between their emotions.
Emotions are often directed imprecisely at situations and objects and are only perceived as
more or less diffuse physical sensations. This module is aimed at teaching the skills to perceive,
identify and discriminate between emotions. As Fig. 1 shows, three sources of information
must be used well for this purpose:
the triggering situation
physical sensations
conceptual content anchored in the memory
Patients thus learn skills of attentional deployment by mindfulness and systematic self-obser-
vation (HAUKE, 2006).
Table 2: Exercises to train “mindfulness and body focus”
Regular exercises “mindful breathing”
Body scan
Variation of body postures, motion, respiration; observation and description of the resulting physical
sensations
Behavior-analysis diary
Training of mindfulness towards thoughts and emotions is characteristic of behavior therapies of
the third wave. The focus here is not so much on changing cognitive content (e. g. LINEHAN,
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1996; TEASDALE, 1999; HAY ES, 2004). Rather, the patients are supported to get into emotional
contact with situations that are difficult for them, and observe the arising thoughts and emotions,
without evaluating them, resisting the impulses they contain, and not reproaching themselves
for them. If the patient succeeds in adopting a mindful attitude towards difficult experiences, this
already initiates a change in behavior: the former trigger is linked with a qualitatively new behav-
ior. Mindfulness unconsciously generates an intensive physical reference, which is very valuable.
After some time, the focus on the breathing or the body scan leads to a more differentiated
perception of interoceptive and proprioceptive signals. By establishing a mindful body focus,
such sensations are captured and condensed to form a theme. In this way the trigger side can
be identified and the identification of the emotion prepared (see also Fig. 1).
Features of target achievement with this step: The patient perceives differences in the physical
reaction depending on motion style, motion direction and speed of the body, and depending on
the depth and frequency of breath. He experiences himself as the observer of mental processes.
STEP 2: SELECTION AND ACTIVATION OF A PROBLEM SITUATION
Patients come to therapy with concrete problems. Concrete problem situations are also the
starting point for entry into emotional experience. An essential criterion is that the client feels
as far as possible the same way as he felt in the situation originally experienced. A form of
scenic imagination has proven useful here (HAUKE, 2013). Fig. 3 shows a diagram of the pro-
cedure. The aim is to allow the patient to experience the situation in the here and now, even
to taste it. If the description of the problem is initially very broad and largely “cognitive”, the
experience should be narrowed down to a significant situation.
Fig. 3: Emotional activation by scenic imagination
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A situation is significant when the difficult experience is clearly palpable in the imagination. This
narrowing down to a significant situation is illustrated by the funnel in Fig. 3. At the end of this
step, patients should have filtered out an image from the “situation film” that most clearly
reflects the relevant experience. The therapist watches out for avoidance tendencies and steers
the attention as casually as possible back to the events in the “situation film”.
Features of target achievement with this step: The patient feels like he did in the original situation.
The target is achieved even if physical reactions and mental processes occur in a weaker form.
STEP 3: DEVELOPMENT OF THE EMOTIONAL FIELD
The patient’s experience is now brought into the therapy room, where an open, empty, delin-
eated area – a field – is made available. Both persons are standing; the therapist slightly behind
or beside the patient. Now the positions are established. They are spatially separated and
therefore easy to differentiate. This makes processes of comparison or discrimination easier.
During work the patient can concentrate on one position while keeping an eye on all the other
positions as necessary. At the same time a field of action is being prepared.
Fig. 4: Positions in the emotional field. Their spatial location is determined by the patient.
At first, the focus of attention is on the position of the significant person(s) imagined in the
emotion-triggering situation (Position 1 in Fig. 4). A piece of paper with the name of the
person(s) is placed at the wall. Now the patient projects the significant reference person onto
the wall, describing the person with posture, facial expression, clothing etc. and putting a typical
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sentence in the person’s mouth. Now the attention of the patient is steered towards what is
happening inside him, in particular the physical reactions, e.g. core affect, tensions, minimum
motion impulses backwards or forwards etc. The triggering situation is left to one side for the
moment in the interest of this focus.
The emotions occurring are named, and then noted down by the patient and positioned in the
field. Again the attention is steered towards the body and its impulses. Often other emotions
may arise (Position 6). The patient also notes these down and the notes are distributed in the
room. The first emotion named is generally the secondary emotion. Now the therapist
describes the other positions designated by the patient on the floor: Position 0 is designated
as a regulation aid. If an emotion becomes too overpowering, the patient is guided here with
a physical exercise to gain control of it. As the player in the field, the patient can question the
sense of the game. Perhaps he feels overstrained and wants to avoid his momentary experi-
ence. This is where the “I-don’t-want-to position” (Position 4) comes into play. This allows the
patient to consciously decide on an avoidance reaction of varying duration. This is expressly
legitimized, and the danger that patient and therapist are secretly working against each other is
thus minimized. At the suggestion of the therapist or the patient, both switch to the expert posi-
tion (5). Here both of them reflect on the events in the emotional field. The therapist plays the
role of the psychological expert, the patient the role of the expert for his own life. These reflec-
tion processes are meant to sharpen the patient’s understanding of his inner processes: “How
do I deal with certain emotions?” “Why do certain emotions play a larger role in such situations?”
This rather metacognitive activity helps to prepare the patient for the seventh work step. This is
about the competent deployment of the patient’s own emotions in the achievement of targets.
Features of target achievement with this step: The patient has confronted himself with the
significant reference person. The description of his experience tends to be more detailed and
colorful than the description from imagination. He has precisely understood the various posi-
tions in the field and has named at least one emotion.
STEP 4: DISCRIMINATION OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EMOTIONS
The patient leaves the expert position (5) after he has granted his explicit consent to a deepen-
ing of the process. He is asked to stand at the position of the secondary emotion (2). In order
not to disturb the awareness of the patient, the therapist stands beside or slightly behind him,
having first agreed on the spatial distance with him. The patient is now helped to focus his
attention on the reactions of his body and his inner processes. The therapist focuses her atten-
tion on the patient’s body: the slightest tensions, motion impulses, changes in facial expression
and gestures provide important clues. In this way it can be recognized to what extent the sec-
ondary emotion is beginning to develop, e.g. when the patient’s body moves back slightly. If
the clues are clear enough, the therapist introduces the respectively appropriate effector pattern
(breathing, body posture, facial expression) by miming it. As necessary, she carefully corrects
these parameters in the patient, which generally leads to a reinforcement of the emotions and
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to a more intensive form of emotion exposure. After about 1.5 minutes the process is gently
brought to an end. Images can appear as well as thoughts and emotions. The patient describes
the content of these; they are not subjected to any further comment or analysis. Instead, an
attentive attitude of observation is supported. After the exposure of the secondary emotion, the
primary emotion typically appears. In addition to this, other emotions that have not even been
mentioned up to now can come into play. The patient notes these down on a piece of paper
and positions this somewhere in the room. Now both patient and therapist go back to the
expert position to talk about what has happened. They focus in particular on the impulses to
act of the primary emotion and reflect on the role of the secondary emotion. The therapist
makes sure that the conversation does not drift too far away from the here and now.
Features of target achievement with this step: The patient has exposed himself to the second-
ary emotion until the primary emotion appears. Further emotions can arise and be positioned
in the field.
STEP 5: DEEPENING THE WORK WITH PRIMARY EMOTIONS
A reaction chain can now be drawn up in the expert position (Hauke, 2013; see Table 3).
Table 3: Content of the reaction chain of the problem situation
This again illustrates the special role of the secondary emotion that helps, after all, to stop or
avoid the primary emotion in the problem situation. In addition, the conditions of the learning
Reaction chain
Problem situation
(=behavior available
for need fulfillment)
Primary emotion
Primary impulse
Anticipation of the
consequences
Secondary emotion
(counteractive emotion)
Observable behavior
Symptom formation
Questions
What is it about, who is involved, what is happening where and how?
What is happening to me?
What frustration, what injury do I experience?
What is the first emotion that flashes up?
What will happen if I allow myself to experience it?
What impulse will arise if I yield to this first emotionwhat would I love to do?
What will be the consequences for me and my relationships in the situation
if I yield to this impulse?
What emotion will actually arise and what effect will it have on me?
What behavior am I showing to the outside?
What signal am I sending with this to the persons involved?
What symptoms have manifested in me? What effect do they have on me?
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history that have led to a linkage of primary and secondary emotions can also be made clear.
The survival strategy of the patient qualifies the primary emotion as a “forbidden urge”. Showing
or disclosing it uninhibitedly would have endangered the emotional survival. The important thing
is that the patient feels and acknowledges that the primary emotion is right and fitting in the
current problem situation. At this point it is suggested to the patient that he should become
more familiar with this emotion in the protected framework of the field. The argument here is
that only what is familiar loses its horror and can be competently used eventually. Once the
decision in favor of deepening the work with the primary emotion has been reached, the patient
places himself at this position (3), with the therapist again standing close by. The therapist
mimes the three features of the effector pattern, whereby it is important that the patient begins
with low intensity in order to be able to properly perceive any changes in his body. As the pri-
mary emotion is typically a frequently avoided one, the patient may need special support by the
therapist in this exposure exercise. Verbal instructions, e.g. regarding floor contact of the feet,
supportive measures such as a hand on the back etc. can be very helpful here. Often the patient
can say what he needs. In any case, the respective measures must first be agreed with him.
When the exercise is completed, the patient returns to the neutral position (0). Then the process
is reflected upon in the expert position. The aim is that the patient makes the primary emotion
“his own”. For this purpose it is often necessary that the patient occupies the position of the
primary emotion and is then encouraged to practice the effector pattern in varying intensity.
Every exercise is concluded with a switch back to the neutral position (0). In this way the patient
learns that he is able to regulate the primary emotion by the mental-physical activity pattern of
the stepout. He no longer needs the secondary emotion for this. The process of accepting and
regulating the primary emotion is reflected upon again and again in the expert position (5).
Features of target achievement with this step: The patient is able to distinguish between pri-
mary and secondary emotions and regulate each separately by means of the stepout. He no
longer needs the secondary emotion to regulate the primary emotion.
STEP 6: DEALING WITH OTHER EMOTIONS IN THE EMOTIONAL FIELD
As mentioned above, during the work with primary and secondary emotions other emotions
frequently arise (Position 6). For example, alongside anger as the primary emotion, and fear as
the secondary emotion, sadness and affection may also occur. At first glance this may seem as
if the person is likely to lose track. The opposite is actually the case, however. In fact, due to the
different degrees of arousal and impulses to act now forming in the field, the overall problem of
the selected situation becomes clearer. Due to the different directions of the corresponding
impulses to act, initially a paralyzing inability to solve the problem or to act manifests itself. The
occupation of the respective positions in the field, which is also accompanied as necessary by
exercising the respective effector pattern, helps to a great extent to support and validate the
patient in experiencing the problem situation. The patient illustratively experiences that the emo-
tional field is basically an emotional network: the problem situation usually contains several
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emotionally competent anchors for attentiveness. Depending on which aspects the attention fixes
upon, the patient experiences not only one or two, but three, four or even more emotions. It is
also possible that fragments of his life history will arise. In the problem situation, for example, the
significant reference person (Position 1) with his/her demanding appearance could trigger anger
as a primary emotion and fear as a secondary emotion (Positions 2 and 3). At the same time,
however, certain aspects of the facial expression might induce friendly or even affectionate emo-
tions (Position 6), perhaps linked with sadness (Position 6) at not having been physically close
for so long etc. Memories and inner pictures of learning history experiences can arise. On the one
hand, the content of the various emotions becomes clear. On the other hand, there is an overall
picture: “You are obstructing me in fulfilling an important need and this is making me very angry.
At the same time I am afraid of showing my anger, because I am afraid you would leave me. I
love you so much and am so sad that we have not exchanged affections for such a long time.
By being represented in the emotional field, these emotions now also have a spatial presence.
They can be observed one after the other or in parallel, but they can no longer be ignored.
Features of target achievement with this step: Fulfills the requirements for successful emo-
tional regulation. The patient is now familiar with his emotions in the field; he has clearly
experienced their various features. He is able to expose himself to them and no longer has
to avoid them. He can observe the development and the course of events in himself, and is
familiar with their cognitive-affective core thematic issues.
STEP 7: EMOTIONAL MASTERY
So far, the patient’s attention during work in the emotional field (as of Step 4) was again and
again brought back to his inner, physical-mental processes. Now emphasis is increasingly put
on the outer features of the problem situation. The patient has to learn how to use the emo-
tions he experienced more competently in order to achieve his targets. The emotions in the
emotional field are now brought together in a table. In the next step both patient and therapist
think about which themes and targets in the concrete problem situation are linked with the
various emotions. The results are summarized in a table (Table 4).
Table 4: Some examples of the content of the emotional field and related targets.
Emotion
Anger, rage
(Position 2: primary emotion)
Fear
(Position 3: secondary emotion)
Affection
(Position 6)
Sadness
(Position 6)
Targets
Controlling the intensity of the anger to put appropriate emphasis on
a demand.
Learning to accept and bear fear until its intensity declines.
After clarification of the anger-related issue, showing this relationship-
strengthening emotion: “Alongside my anger, I also feel drawn to you.”
Showing the sadness and addressing the loss: “This problem created
a distance between us.”
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First primary and secondary emotions (Positions 2 and 3) are dealt with, later the other emotions
(Position 6). The expert position (5) again marks the metacognitive perspective; here the patient
talks about what he experienced. The subsequent process then essentially goes through three
phases: exposure, experimentation and decision (see Table 3). What has been learned up to now
as well as possible starting points for emotion regulation is taken into account here (see Chapter
2.5). Within the framework of exposure, the patient again imagines the problem situation. He
places himself facing the wall onto which the significant reference person is projected (Position
1). The experimentation phase is essential for the patient to get a feel for influencing factors and
possibilities of emotion regulation. Executing the emotion pattern in different degrees of intensity
gives the patient essential regulation experience. The patient has to make a decision after he has
attempted various alternatives in the room and discussed them with the therapist. He chooses
the version that appears most promising in terms of achieving his target.
Table 5: Step sequence for the elaboration of a favorable emotional regulation
In our work we try to make sure that what has been learned up to this point is also used on
an everyday basis. In this context we refer to an action project. The implementation of the
patient’s new skills is prepared in the therapy. For this purpose both patient and therapist draw
up a plan that also takes account of the occurrence of possible setbacks. This considerably
increases the probability of target implementation (OETTI NGEN and GOLLWITZER, 2010).
Features of target achievement with this step: The patient is able to regulate himself and his
interaction with the aid of the emotion in such a way as to achieve his target. He has imple-
mented his skills in an action project.
Exposure
The problem situation is
imagined, the interaction
partner is projected onto
the wall. Spontaneously
adopted position in the
room, body posture and
impulsive physical
motions are registered.
Does the patient feel
larger or smaller than the
reference person?
Experimentation
With spatial proximity and
distance, body postures and
motions of varying speed,
tensions, diverse intensities of
the respective effector patterns,
loudness, attentional deploy-
ment, focusing on various fea-
tures of the situation, helpful,
situation-relevant self-instruc-
tions.
Decision
What is to be the motto of the
situation?
Shaping: selection of suitable situative
circumstances. Selection of a function-
al action with suitable facial expres-
sions, gestures, motions, posture,
position of the body, language and a
matching intensity of the emotion pat-
tern. Observation of the self-regulation,
observation of the effect of signals,
assuming an attentive attitude.
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4. Experience-activating method in EAT
Emotional work also means working with memory content. This is necessary to allow identifica-
tion of the emotion during interaction with information from the trigger side (see Fig. 1).
Accordingly, the method used in therapy should support activation of the memory content. This
procedure results from concepts developed in neurobiological research and papers on “ground-
ed/embodied cognition”. The total content of the brain that can be regarded as the result of the
interaction of an organism with the emotion-triggering situation (DAMASIO, 2010) is recorded: (1)
sensorimotor patterns of visual impressions and the associated eye and neck motions, motions
of the whole body etc., (2) sensorimotor patterns associated with physical contact and the
handling of the situation, (3) sensorimotor patterns linked with older memories of this situation
and (4) sensorimotor patterns that trigger further emotions related to the situation. These com-
ponents are integrated and result ultimately in our memories. A core statement of the “embod-
ied cognition” research community is that during the process of understanding cognitive con-
cepts, e.g. those of the emotion anger, or those of authority, closeness etc., a mental simulation
takes place. This represents a restoration of the personal experience with the aid of these sen-
sorimotor patterns when the person tries to remember, to understand or grasp something
(BARSALOU, 2008). Simulation can be regarded as the restoration of perceptive, motor and intro-
spective states that were already acquired during the physical presence in concrete situations.
As a result of these simulation processes the body is set in motion in a certain way. Accordingly,
obstructing the respective muscle groups also inhibits the processing of the corresponding emo-
tions (NIEDENTHAL, 2006; NIEDENTHAL et al., 2009). With the aid of our procedure, the body is
given the space to include this activation. We thus extend the usual framework (HAUKE, 2013).
Patient and therapist are not permanently stuck in their chairs, but frequently stand up to allow
the body to express something emotionally significant in the room and to show the correspond-
ing physical forms of expression. The “Emotional Field” method offers the ideal framework for
this and is extremely helpful not only for the understanding of problem situations, but also for
the development of target realizations. The motion of the body in space can be used in a dif-
ferentiated manner for the examination and amplification of emotional states. Thus it has been
shown that emotional proximity or distance bears a relation to the corresponding spatial dis-
tance. We apply this in the positioning of the patient in front of the projection. The vertical
dimension can also be used to trigger emotions of empowerment or powerlessness. Also, in
the sense of a favorable future, the forwards direction in space should always be maintained in
the development of target states (NATA NZ O N and FERGUSON, 2012), etc.
5. Clinical case
The case relates to Hans, a 58 year old writer. He suffers from anxiety dysregulation all day long
that became worse in the last few months. He has been married for 28 years with Margaret,
a clinical doctor. They have a 26-year old daughter who left the house 3 years ago.
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Hans says that his angst is worst in the morning, when he wakes up. After taking a shower he
feels slightly better. He expresses his need of spending more time with his wife, of having more
intimacy and physical contact. He describes his difficulties, for all these years, getting more of
this kind of attention from his wife. He values their marriage despite this specific point.
His cognitive affective survival strategy:
Only if I always keep my standards low regarding the obligingness of others, privilege the others,
and never show anger and limits to the others, never show honestly my unvarnished needs,
then I maintain having a place and the feeling of being seen
and avoid being rejected and abandoned.
STEP 1: Mindfulness and body focus. The patient was first shown how to mindfully observe
his breathing and physical reactions. He is asked to practice this at home for 5-10 minutes
twice a day. In a next step the therapist directed the patient’s attention to the more precise
observation of diverse interactional situations. Here he was trained for the appearance of even
light physical symptoms occurring.
STEP 2: Selection and activation of the problematic situation. The patient imagines the situa-
tion. He imagines himself lying in the bed, just woken up in the morning, realizing that his wife
has already left the bed and is doing physical exercises in the next room. His view is shifted to
the closed door. He describes abdominal tension, angst and pain in his waist and pelvic area.
The patient smiles while describing the scene. At this point the patient’s attention is directed
by the therapist back to the experience of the scene. He is asked to focus his attention to the
immediate physical reactions that appear.
STEP 3: Development of the Emotional Field. The client is asked to project the concrete figure of
his wife on to the wall (clothing, facial expression, typical sentences) and to take a position in
front of her. Then the “neutral” and “ I-don’t-want-to“ positions are introduced into the emotional
field. Now the patient is asked to return his attention back to his wife’s figure on the wall. He is
asked to focus on his felt size compared to his wife’s. He visualizes himself smaller than her. Then
his attention is directed back towards himself. Now he is encouraged to describe his physical and
later his mental processes regarding this projection. He mentions that he feels heat in his cheeks,
stomachache and pain in the chest, paralyzed and with tension in his body. He associated this
with the emotion of “shame”. He is instructed to note that down on a piece of paper and put it
on the floor. He tightens his body and moves it backwards; he says that he feels “fear” of being
rejected by Margaret. This is written on a piece of paper and put on the floor. Once the body's
signals clearly confirmed this the therapist introduces the effector pattern of fear and carefully
validates upcoming memories. She explains to the patient that they are important but may be
treated later, redirecting the patient’s attention to his body processes again. After a while he
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expresses anger and the wish to shake Margaret. ”I am angry with her, she doesn’t hear me, she
doesn’t pay attention to me”. The piece of paper with “anger” written on it is now put on the floor.
“I don’t want this, I am sad about our situation“. “Sadness” is now written on a piece of paper and
put on the floor. The patient expresses his wish to move to the “step out”. After exercising the
neutral position the therapist proposes to move to the “expert position”. Here the patient is asked
to look on to the processes which occurred. Several outcomes appear: “Since the beginning of my
childhood I have been used to hide my wishes”, “I have learnt to direct my attention primarily to
others, never to make clear what I need”, “I’m only able to take other people’s leftovers, “I’m not
able to say no!” These findings were compared with the cognitive affective survival strategy.
STEP 4: Discrimination between primary and secondary emotions. As the patient feels more
connected to the emotion “shame” he wants to start the working process with this emotion.
He moves to the corresponding position on the floor. There he feels connected with his wish
to tell Margaret that he is ashamed when he has to ask her for physical contact and tenderness
and might be rejected by her. Again he feels his body paralyze and tense. He says ”I want to
get out“, and moves a step backwards. Now ”fear” comes up again and the therapist asks him
to move to the corresponding position. At this position in the emotional field the therapist
introduces the emotional effector pattern to deepen the activation of fear. After a while the
patient expresses “Margaret, you are supposed to stay with me when I need you, you are my
wife”. Developing an approach tendency and a different degree of tension he powerfully moves
forward saying “I don ´t want to be angry with you”. To bring this change to his conscious aware-
ness the therapist redirects his attention to his body. Given the intensity of the process and the
amount of information the patient is now guided to the “neutral position“ to be able to talk
about the process in the metaperspective way offered by the “expert position”.
STEP 5: Deepening the work with primary emotion. Therapist and patient formulate a reaction
chain. The patient identifies anger and rage as primary emotions, which are interrupted by the
fear of losing his relationship. This corresponds to his learning history. His parents could not
cope with his elder brother who was chronically ill. The patient was not allowed to bother them.
Then he is guided to the position of “anger “and is instructed to execute the corresponding
effector pattern.
STEP 6: Dealing with other emotions in the emotional field. Now other emotions have to be
explored. “Shame” and “sadness” are in the field, the patient explores them, images and
memories appear. In the “expert position”, creating a meaning of these emotional experiences
completes the exercise.
STEP 7: Emotional mastery. Now a table is drawn up allocating the emotions of the field to
thematic issues and targets. So-called “negative” emotions are not removed or reduced, but
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taken as important signals with respect to action projects, which were observed in terms of
difficulty and urgency.
Table 6: Different emotions in the patient’s Emotional Field and related targets
Here the first aim to be reached was that the patient was able to connect with the feelings
shown in Tab. 6 and then to discriminate them. Next, both patient and therapist decided to
perform a behavioral project with steps of varying difficulty. Action plans and techniques such
as role-play, visualizations, etc. helped to prepare the patient to approach real situations. With
the aid of the effector patterns different degrees of emotional intensity were attempted the aim
of optimizing self-regulation as well as regulation of interaction.
Hans realized that he very often behaves in a way which is very comfortable to others, espe-
cially to Margaret. His cautious hints about his needs were often simply pushed aside by her.
So the expression of anger in an adequate way and the setting of limits regarding her mindless
behavior in the couple’s intimacy were important. The patient was encouraged, within the ses-
sion, to test different possibilities of expressing anger in combination with various discussion
contents. Ultimately, he decided for a particular option. Patient and therapist developed an
action plan also considering problems that might arise. The joint evaluation of what was expe-
rienced showed that the patient was satisfied with the course of the conversation. Then further
projects regarding different persons and situations were arranged. The patient had almost
avoided showing sadness in the past. Here the corresponding effector patterns were used in
the session to help him to expose himself to the disappointments and emotional injuries he
had experienced. The overcoming of this kind of experiential avoidance made him feel much
stronger in his role as a male and helped him to present himself more clearly.
Emotion
Shame
Fear
Anger
Sadness
Targets
Recognize intimacy needs. Stand the feeling of shame and address the
needs to the partner.
Stand the feelings of fear. Perform behavioral experiments in order to
provoke fear and test the connected beliefs in the reality of everyday life.
Allow feeling the anger and showing it in a functional way, which helps
to reach the goals in the specific situations.
Allow feelings of sadness, the related previous experiences and share
them with other persons. Make yourself to be seen and especially visible
with your needs of intimacy.
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6. Conclusion
With our procedure we complement the cognitive-behavioral tradition whose method is aimed
primarily at removing negative or symptomatic emotional reactions to events that trigger stress
(BECK ET AL., 1979, GOLDFR IED, 2003). In our procedure, however, we attach a more favorable
connotation to the so-called negative emotions, for example with regard to their signal charac-
ter. We share this more positive view regarding emotions – including the negative ones – with
humanistic approaches (GREENBERG and SAFRAN, 1987; AUSZRA and GREENBERG, 2007). In keeping
with the tradition of CBT, we also work according to the exposure principle, thereby allowing the
patient to obtain corrective information (see FOA and KOZAK, 1986; RACHMAN, 2001). However,
we go beyond the frequent issue of fear and, with the aid of the effector patterns, also allow
selective exposure experiences with other specific emotions. The mindful approach with regard
to difficult emotional experiences that can modulate a negative emotional reaction (SEGAL et al.,
2002; TEASDALE , 1993, 1996) is important to us. Nonetheless, we deploy mindfulness primarily
in the sense of introducing a certain observer mode with respect to physical and mental pro-
cesses in order to learn more, first of all about the related emotional processes. Fully in keeping
with the mindful basic attitude, we do not make any distinction between positive and negative
emotions. If sufficient clarification is accomplished, e.g. the unfavorable regulation of primary
emotions with secondary emotions recognized, the patient returns to the emotional experience
and uses it to achieve current targets. Further empirical studies are necessary here.
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Correspondence address
Dr. Gernot Hauke
Centrum für Integrative Psychotherapie (CIP), Munich, Germany. gernothauke@arcor.de
Lic. Mirta Dall`Occhio, Centro Hemera, Buenos Aires, Argentina. mirtadall@gmail.com
... A chorus of clinical voices have started recommending that CBT, including CBT for depression, would benefit from a more integrated, complex and differentiated view of the relation between cognition and affect (e.g., Burum and Goldfried 2007;Grosse Holtforth et al. 2012;Hauke and Dall'Occhio 2013;Safran 1998;Samoilov and Goldfried 2000;Whelton 2004). The early focus on "cold" cognitions (i.e. ...
... This review makes the case that it may be important to consider patients' affect experiencing (AE), as a changeable in-session state beyond the typical depressive affects, as it may relate to CBT treatment outcome. This is consistent with the increasing number of theorists and clinicians, who suggest that, in addition to cognitive processes, AE might be a vehicle for change in CBT treatment for depression and thus an important avenue to explore (e.g., Grosse Holtforth et al. 2012; Hauke and Dall'Occhio 2013;Hayes 2015). ...
... exposure, imagery and challenging hot cognitions). Additional procedures that may be used to facilitate AE in CBT sessions for depression include: (i) "twochair work" to alternate perspectives from both chairs, and increase self-compassion (see Goldfried 2013); (ii) "empty chair work", to help the patient to express their wishes and needs, and change emotional schemas concerning the other (see Babl et al. 2016); (iii) brief "meditative" or "mindfulness" practices, to help patients learn to intentionally control their attention (e.g., Hayes and Harris 2000;Lau and Grabovac 2009;Teasdale and Chaskalson 2011); (vi) "tracking" of patients' bodily sensations during the session (see Hauke and Dall'Occhio 2013); (v) "audio-and proprioception" to invite patients to experiment with changes in vocal tone, body positions and gestures (Barnard and Teasdale 1991); (vi) "focusing" on the here-and now inner experience by symbolizing feelings in words or pictures; and (vii) offering "evocative empathic responses" by extending the patient's narrative with vivid examples and metaphors (Kennedy-Moore and Watson 2001) and elaborating on their catastrophic scenarios (Vyskocilova and Prasko 2012). ...
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... This article provides an overview of the conceptualisation, implementation and effectiveness of our manualised intervention for connecting couples. The aim was to foster emotional regulation, multifaceted empathy and conflict resolution via Emotional Activation Therapy (Hauke & Dall'Occhio, 2013. Embodied elements of imitation, movement synchronisation and embodied cooperation were incorporated. ...
... We describe an approach based on an adapted version of Emotional Activation Therapy (Hauke & Dall'Occhio, 2013; incorporating the above neuroscience inspired movement concepts of imitation, synchronisation and embodied cooperation. The aim was to support more positive emotion regulation in the spouses, reduce conflict and to increase emotional connection and partner satisfaction as a result. ...
... To this end, working in cooperation with the couples where one spouse has BPD, we identify the emotional survival strategies adopted by the couples in situations that are viewed as critical by both. What is involved here are dysfunctional cognitive-affective schemas adopted by the partners -unconsciously in most cases (Hauke, 2013). The gaining of individual insight and knowledge in this regard establishes the basis for deeper mutual understanding. ...
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Connecting Couples Intervention: Improving couples' empathy and emotional regulation using embodied empathy mechanisms. A B S T R A C T This article provides an overview of the conceptualisation, implementation and effectiveness of our manualised intervention for connecting couples. The aim was to foster emotional regulation, multifaceted empathy and conflict resolution via Emotional Activation Therapy (Hauke & Dall'Occhio, 2013, 2015). Embodied elements of imitation, movement syn-chronisation and embodied cooperation were incorporated. Qualitative research method was used for the data with two couples: one healthy spouse and one spouse with borderline personality disorder. Contents and implementation of the intervention modules are de scribed. Results showed that after the individual emotional survival strategy (Sulz & Hauke, 2010) was choreographed and imitated by their spouse both couples reported greater emotional attunement, relief, validation and a deeper perspective of their spouse's previous hidden intentions and primary emotions. The couples tipping points (e.g., conflict reflected as emotional dysregulation and asynchronous interaction movements) were adjusted based on cooperative embodied movement solutions. Concrete action projects were designed to develop emotional mastery. Pre to post-test change scores following 20 hours of intervention showed that the couples reported greater relationship satisfaction , a more securely attached relationship and increases in some sub-scales of empathy. Broader applications are discussed with suggested adaptions to group couples' therapy.
... When nonverbal cues are available, actions (e.g., rotating the body away from the screen), gaze behaviors (e.g., staring), and facial expressions (e.g., lowered eyebrows) can signal how potent emotions are in speakers. Activation indicates how connected the speakers are (consciously) to their own emotions [36]. This factor helps determine if the emotional expression is influenced by the goals of the communication. ...
... Emotional Activation: Emotional activation describes a direct emotional reaction in a client's behavior and indicates how the client is, consciously and cognitively, connected to his or her own feelings [36]. Emotional activation, which is a significant component of Emotional Activation Therapy (EAT), shows the strength of the person's disposition to take some action in response to one or more emotions [81,82]. ...
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... Embodiment techniques are a defined practical procedure and include the guidance for arbitrarily setting a particular combination of body-related features, e.g., expansive posture, direction of gaze, direction of movement, respiratory patterns etc. [99,121]. This is guided by modelling by the therapist and imitation by the client. ...
... There is some preliminary data using single case study designs [99,121] and embodied CBT for single couples [134] and groups of couples [135] showing some promising results. For example, after 20 h of group couple embodied CBT intervention, the couple treatment group (compared to the control group) showed significant and meaningful increases in relationship satisfaction and empathy. ...
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... All these questions are addressed by our work in the so-called "Emotional Field" (Hauke and Dall'Occhio, 2013;Hauke, 2018b). In this respect, two important methodological rules of the goal achievement alliance are applied. ...
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... staring), and facial expressions (e.g. lowered eye-brows) can signal how potent emotions are in speakers. Activation indicates how connected speakers are (consciously) to their own emotions [35]. This factor helps determine if the emotional expression is influenced by the goals of the communication. ...
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Emotional awareness has been previously investigated among clinicians. In this work, we bring to the fore of research the interest to uncover emotional awareness of clinicians during the tele-mental health session. The study reported here aimed at determining whether clinicians process their own emotions, as well as those of the client, in a computer-mediated context. Also, clinicians’ decision-making process was assessed because such action appears to be related to the way they feel and recognise how those emotions may change their thinking and impact their interaction with clients. We estimated that such ability in clinicians’ would be contrasted when the psychotherapy-session level is conducted via various technologies. Participant of the study were presented by stimuli in different modes of delivery (e.g. text, audio, and video). The experiment indicates that the ability to manage, perceive, and utilise emotions was as being satisfactory during all modes of delivery. In essence, the findings contribute to the field of remote therapy suggesting emotional awareness as a key cognitive factor in diagnosis.
... Im letzten Schritt geht es um die Verbindung von Emotionen und Zielsetzungen. Das "Meistern von Emotionen" umschreibt schließlich die Fähigkeit, diese funktional für das Erreichen persönlicher Ziele in der behandelten Problemsituation einsetzen zu können(Hauke & Dall'Occhio, 2013, 2015 Abbildung 2: Stufen der Emotionalen Aktivierungstherapie (EAT). Links die Prinzipien, die im jeweiligen therapeutischen Schritt im Vordergrund stehen.Vorbereitung der Arbeit und Überlebensstrategie. Hier werden zunächst die in der SBT üblichen Daten erhoben, z. ...
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Full-text available
Therapy with emotions in Strategic Behavioral Therapy (SBT): emotional activation by embodiment techniques)
Preprint
The Embodied Cognitive Behavior Therapy (ECBT) approach for the treatment of emotional disorders in clinical settings is presented. The model integrates cognitive behavioral theory, neuroscience and embodied cognition. ECBT draws from evidence of bidirectional effects between modes of bottom up (sensori-motor simulations giving rise to important basis of knowledge) and top down (abstract mental representations of knowledge) processes in psychotherapy. The paper first describes the dominance of the traditional mentalistic view of cognition and its limitations. Evidence for the embodied model of cognition and emotion is reviewed whilst highlighting its advantages as a complimentary process model to deepen and broaden talking therapies. An overview is given of the switch (e.g., the technique of balancing) between top-down and bottom-up orientation in the ECBT model as well as a clear description of the method for emotional regulation, acceptance of unwanted emotions and emotional mastery. ECBT builds on and extends the unconscious processes of the ‘Interpersonal Synchrony’ (IS) model identified by Koole and Tschacher [1], to enhance the therapeutic alliance for emotional co-regulation. A new idea is proposed that both embraces and extends the IS model: embodiment techniques of imitation and movement synchronization in the Emotional Field of our method be used in a conscious way to speed up the calming effects of co-regulation and the client’s self-regulatory capacity. The paper ends with an outline of the criteria needed to become an embodied therapist. A case study is given highlighting these aspects.
Chapter
These phrases and metaphors refer to the body but in reality they are about the connections we make between the body, thoughts and emotions and social connections with other people. Psychologists and cognitive scientists call these connections “embodiment,” although definition is elusive—as seen by the variability in definition given in each chapter of this book. Perhaps this because there are so many components involved, and researchers and clinicians have tended to focus efforts, sensibly enough, on only one or two aspects at a time. A cursory scan through these definitions reveals some recurring key words, however: body, Self, others, social. So from the perspective of researcher-clinicians, the conceptualisation spans from the physical body to the interaction with others—from morphology to social interaction. Indeed, what has become evident in bringing together this book, is that “embodiment” really refers to a process that produces a network, woven through the fabric of our body functions and cognitions and our behaviour, connecting us to the physical environment and synchronising us with the cognitions and behaviours of other people.
Chapter
Empirical research makes it quite clear: individuals who are unable to identify and to differentiate their emotions are more likely to engage in dysfunctional down-regulation strategies of stress, such as the misuse of alcohol, binge-eating, self-harm etc. In therapy, the energy needed to induce behavioural change can be gained from the emotions of the client. However, to reach this goal, we need to take a closer look at different kinds of emotions involved. Problematic situations often give rise to a variety of emotions, whose dissimilarity we may not ignore. With the help of the method described in this chapter, we can draw a clearer picture of the difficult emotional state of the client. By doing this, we develop the Emotional Field. All relevant emotions gain a place in this field. We do not categorise emotions into positive and negative ones. In problematic situations, all emotions convey important information. Their messages can be decoded and used effectively for goal realisation. We make use of findings from embodiment research which shows that changes in body posture, gestures, facial expressions, breathing patterns and voice can create emotions and influence the way emotional states are being processed. We distinguish between primary and secondary emotions. In this context, the importance of the Survival Strategy also becomes apparent. Emotions vitalize us. Intense work with emotions not only rapidly highlights the core of our clients’ problems, but also activates the energy needed for goal attainment.
Book
Jammernde Säuglinge mit flehendem Blick zur Mutter, vor Supermarktkassen auf dem Boden liegende tobende Zweijährige, aggressive Schulkinder– und dann? Die Entwicklung der Emotionen und ihre Regulation lässt sich nicht auf wenige Lebensjahre eingrenzen. Ebenso wenig kann man sie losgelöst vom soziokulturellen Kontext betrachten. Hier geht es um die zentralen Fragen der Emotionsentwicklung: Was entwickelt sich eigentlich genau wenn man von Emotionsentwicklung spricht? Gibt es eine soziale Genese emotionaler Prozesse? Welche Bedeutung haben frühe soziale Interaktionen zwischen Kind und Bezugsperson? Emotionen entwickeln sich von Geburt an bis ins Erwachsenenalter hinein. Erstmals werden in einem Buch Entwicklungstheorien der Emotionen über die Lebensspanne hinweg erläutert. Wenn Sie sich für die Entwicklung von Emotionen und ihre Regulation interessieren und verstehen wollen, warum man keine Erwachsenen tobend vor Supermarktkassen auf dem Boden liegen sieht, empfehlen wir Ihnen dieses Buch.
Article
From initial consultation to termination of treatment, psychologists and other mental health practitioners make a series of crucial decisions to determine the progress and therapy of the patient. These decisions have varied implications such as the clinical course of the patient, the efficacy and efficiency of the treatment, and the cost of the sessions. Thus, the decisions made by mental health professionals need to be accurate and consistent, respecting a series of guidelines that will ultimately benefit the patient. This is the first in a series of guidebooks that is designed to do just that by providing practitioners with some structure in the development of treatment programs. Previous guidelines have been based on consensus panels of experts or on the opinions of membership groups, causing guidelines to be very far off from the findings of empirical research. Here, guidelines are presented in terms of treatment principles rather than in terms of specific treatment models or theories, and they do not favour one theory of psychotherapy over another. Instead, they define strategies and considerations that can be woven into comprehensive treatment programmes.