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Emotional responses regularly go hand-in-hand with behaviour that is trying to tell us something.

Emotion that comes with anxiety, worry, frustration, sadness or with the elation of joy.

The recognition, understanding and regulation of emotion is an important process to be aware of, particularly from the perspective of self-regulation (where a person can identify when their body is feeling emotion, understand what it means and then put a strategy into place that helps them to feel less overwhelmed with the intense emotions).

Learning this process is not easy and not something that happens overnight, but we consider it a life skill that so many people benefit from.

It’s important when supporting a person in learning about emotion (and how they feel and manage emotion) that we don’t rush the learning and that we work with the basics (such as labelling emotion and visually connecting emotion to the body) and move forward from there.

From our experience, the step involved in the visual connection can often be the part that makes all the difference in a person developing their understanding. If you can see and identify (label) something, you often have a better chance of understanding how it works.

When developing tools and strategies to support the regulation of emotion, it’s important to individualise the strategies – at this point, one size definitely does not fit all, and it’s worthwhile trying out some different tools to see which feels and fits best.

Throughout the process we must also provide supported opportunities to practice skills and understanding. For emotional self-regulation to work in the ‘unstructured’ heat of the moment, the self-regulation skills need to be practised regularly (in supported environments that safely set up situations that put the skills to work) so that eventually they come as second-nature.

How have you supported emotional self-learning and self-understanding? What strategies do you find to be effective?

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