Anger triggers: Oftentimes, we need a reminder that anger is a protective emotion for a more vulnerable emotion underneath. Help your client identify their “anger triggers” using this worksheet and in talking about those triggers, help them name if there is another, more vulnerable emotion underneath the anger (such as scared, hurt, or sad). Coach caregivers to validate the more vulnerable emotion, and encourage kids or adolescents to name that vulnerable emotion along with their anger to help others in their life understand them better.
Sample progress note: The focus of this session was… The therapist helped the client identify and discuss triggers for anger and other associated emotions. The therapist validated these emotions and assisted the Ct in practicing naming a variety of emotions associated with anger. The Ct was (engaged/not engaged) with this intervention.
Couples strategy of the week:
Vulnerability & Anger: In relationships, anger can help us understand our boundaries and our values, but oftentimes, beneath anger there are additional emotions that feel vulnerable to share with our partners. Vulnerability can feel intimidating, but when we are vulnerable with people we trust, we can strengthen our relationships and feel seen. Review the Anger Iceberg below and identify hidden, vulnerable emotions that you may feel underneath anger. Take turns sharing vulnerable emotions and empathically listening to the other person.
Sample Progress Note: The focus of this session was… The therapist helped the couple identify primary emotions (e.g., anger) and secondary emotions (e.g., fear, disappointment, sadness, etc.) and practice sharing vulnerable emotions with each other. The couple reported that identifying emotions was (helpful/challenging/etc.) and they felt that sharing vulnerable emotions with each other (brought them closer together/was hurtful/was challenging).
Adult strategy of the week:
Daring Greatly: In her book, Daring Greatly, researcher and author Brené Brown beautifully defines vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure… [that] is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy courage, empathy, and creativity.” In other words, vulnerability is uncomfortable but often necessary to foster emotions and experiences that help us feel fulfilled and satisfied in life. Take some time to think about ways you can practice vulnerability in big and small ways, and maybe even challenge yourself to experiment with being vulnerable.
Some examples include:
Asking for help
Telling someone how you’re actually feeling
Trying a new hobby that you might not excel at right away
Asking someone what they’re thinking or feeling
Sample Progress Note: The focus of this session was… The therapist provided psychoeducation about vulnerability and relationship patterns and helped the client explore their experiences, thoughts, feelings, and values related to vulnerability. The client reported that learning about vulnerability was (helpful/boring/intimidating/etc), and they (identified/struggled to identify/etc) ways they can practice vulnerability in between sessions.
Meditation/mindfulness strategy of the week:
Self-Compassion Break: Accepting our own vulnerability is made easier when give ourselves compassion. Use this self-compassion break with clients in session or encourage them to use it on their own when working with difficult or vulnerable emotions.
Sample progress note: The focus of this session was… The therapist led a meditation activity (i.e., Self Compassion Break). Ct. (engaged/did not engage in the activity), and they reported that the activity was (helpful/difficult/not helpful).
Think of a situation in your life that is difficult, that is causing you stress. Call the situation to mind, and see if you can actually feel the stress and emotional discomfort in your body.
Now, say to yourself:
1. This is a moment of suffering
That’s mindfulness. Other options include:
This is stress.
2. Suffering is a part of life
That’s common humanity. Other options include:
Other people feel this way.
I’m not alone.
We all struggle in our lives.
Now, put your hands over your heart, feel the warmth of your hands and the gentle touch of your hands on your chest. Or adopt the soothing touch you discovered felt right for you.
Say to yourself:
3. May I be kind to myself
You can also ask yourself, “What do I need to hear right now to express kindness to myself?” Is there a phrase that speaks to you in your particular situation, such as:
May I give myself the compassion that I need
May I learn to accept myself as I am
May I forgive myself
May I be strong.
May I be patient
This practice can be used any time of day or night, and will help you remember to evoke the three aspects of self-compassion when you need it most.
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