Blog Post No.144
By Dr Jim Byrne
Update on Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy (E-CENT)
Understanding and managing human emotions
Copyright (c) Jim Byrne, 23rd May 2016
I have just finished proof-reading Chapter 6 of my new book, on Holistic Counselling in Practice.
This is how it begins:
Chapter 5. Understanding and managing human emotions
Because counsellors and psycho-therapists deal with their clients’ emotions – (as well as their behaviours, goals, relationships; plus their environmental stressors, and so on) – every system of counselling and therapy has to have a theory of emotion. This, however, is a significant problem, for three reasons:
- Firstly: Human emotion is hugely complex. For example, Stephen Pinker, in his book on how the mind works, draws attention to a quotation from G.K. Chesterton about the unutterable complexity of human emotional tones and moods and shades, which begins like this: “Man knows that there are in the soul tints more bewildering, more numberless, and more nameless than the colours of an autumn forest”. (Page 367). Therefore, at the very least, we should show some humility in developing our systemic models of such complexity.
- Secondly: As one psychotherapist has pointed out: “The terms ‘feeling’ and ‘emotion’, and ‘affect’ are used in many different senses in psychology. A review of more than twenty theories of emotion reveals a plethora of widely diverging technical definitions. These vary with the technique of investigation, the general theoretical framework, and the value-judgements of the psychologist. Often, they are so diverse as to defy comparison let alone synthesis”. So we are not going to arrive at a universal definition of emotion in this book; though we have to come to some working hypotheses, in the form of practical conclusions, which allow us to understand and help our clients.
- Third: There is a good deal of confusion regarding whether emotions are innate, or socially imposed or coinstructed; and whether they exist ‘inside the client’ or ‘outside’ in social relationships.
…End of extract.
~~~ In the course of writing this chapter, I have reviewed the major schools of thought about human emotion, from the time of the Buddha, Plato, the Roman Stoics, and upwards through Darwin, and the behaviourists, neo-behaviourists, cognitivists, the neuroscience of emotion, the affect regulation revolution, interpersonal neurobiology, and so on. In the end, after a lot of refinement, I present some guidelines on how to manage anger, anxiety and depression in a wholly new, holistic manner, involving management of the body-brain-mind-environment-whole which is the counselling client.
This book is taking longer to proof read than I had expected. I have two more substantial chapters to proof, and then the Conclusion; and then several appendices.
And then I want to construct an index, to make the book maximally user-friendly.
So, please watch this space for updates.***
Dr Jim Byrne
Telephone: 01422 843 629 (inside UK) – 44 1422 843 629 (outside)
 Pinker, S. (2015) How the Mind Works. London: Penguin Random House.
 Hobson, R.F. (1985) Forms of Feeling: The heart of psychotherapy. London: Routledge. Page 88.