How Emotion Focused Therapy can help you face difficult emotions
Courtney Bell, MA
How often do you experience a difficult emotion and lean right into it? You are not alone if your answer is rarely, or never for that matter. Difficult emotions (sadness, fear, anger, loneliness for example) often elicit the same response as putting our hand on a hot stove top: we pull away in the opposite direction! However, what if I told you that facing and leaning into difficult emotions can bring great healing? Emotion focused therapy does just that, helping you fully arrive at your difficult emotions so that you can fully leave them behind, in a sense. Often people need help to learn this skill and counselling can be extremely helpful in teaching you how to safely and productively experience difficult emotions so that emotions can help you rather than hinder you.
Often the next question I get is “how the heck do I do that? That sounds scary?” And sometimes it can be. Which is why having someone, like a counsellor, sit with us and guide us through the pain to get to the other side can be helpful. This process is not about venting emotions, but about using emotions as a signal that is telling you that you need to take action! This will require fully facing the difficult emotion, experiencing it, processing it, expressing it, and tapping into a healthy new emotion that creates a meaningful and productive outcome.
Here are some things you might learn when engaging in emotion focused therapy:
- Learn to lean into difficult emotions and experience them in a healing way
- Learn how to get “unstuck” from lingering painful emotions
- Healthy expression and communication of emotion
- Label, understand and organize “jumbled” emotions that are hard to make sense of
- Turn difficult emotions into something meaningful
- Use emotions to solve problems instead of emotions making more problems for you
- Get in touch with core emotional needs that are often hard to figure out
- Emotion regulation skills.
Overall, difficult emotions can be very demanding, and can make you want to run and hide, but many find diving in with both feet and exploring this world of skillfully using your emotions to your advantage is well worth it.