How the Intervention Works


The Theory Behind the Handling Intense Emotions Intervention

Angry (fixed) Emotion episodes begin when a person perceives a threat to a goal that is personally important to them.

Emotion episodes end when:

(a) The person has re-appraised the threat as tolerable.

(b) The person has identified a new strategy to use in pursuit of the goal given the new threat.

(c) A replacement goal has been chosen.

(d) the loss of an important goal is mourned.


The following strategies help decrease the duration of an initiated emotion episode.

(1) The goal in play is identified.

(2) Problem solving around the goal identifies a new goal related strategy or a replacement goal.

(3) The situations is cognitively re-appraised to seem less threatening to a gaol.

(4) Thinking related to the goal is defused using a number of tools.

Loved ones and caregivers can prompt an person in the midst of an emotion episode to use these strategies.


The following strategies help decrease the intensity of an initiated emotion episode.

(1) The goal is validated as important by others.

(2) The emotional state  is validated as normal or justified by others.

(3)  A person is distracted from the emotional situation.

(4) Thinking around a situation is defused.


The following strategies help prevent emotions from being experienced intensely when important goals are threatened.

(1) Good habits of sleep, nutrition, exercise and scheduling.

(2) Identification of the goals that, if threatened, will lead to emotion episodes.

(3) Planning to anticipate threats to important goals.


The following strategies help a person build the skills needed to effectively cope with emotion episodes.

(1) Cognitive re-appraisal: Are there other ways to think about the situation?

(2) Defusion: Was my judgmental mind telling me unworkable things?

(3) Mindfulness skills of using the present moment and observing and describing without judgment.

(4) Problem solving and mediation.

(5) Repairing relationship damage after intense emotion episodes.


 Posted by at 5:11 am

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