Transforming Emotional Pain in Psychotherapy: An Emotion-Focused Approach

Written by Ladislav Timulak

Reviewed by Antigone Phili, New York University

One of the main barriers to treating emotional pain is the individual’s response that often accompanies it.

Emotion-focused therapy (EFT) acknowledges these tendencies but urges the opposite, and rather encourages identification and attention to the pain and exact emotions one is experiencing. At the core of EFT is the goal of transforming a painful emotion to treat depression, anxiety, and traumatic experiences.

Transforming Emotional Pain in Psychotherapy: An Emotion-Focused Approach expands upon Pascual-Leone and Greenberg’s model of emotional transformation (Pascual-Leone & Greenberg, 2007). Geared toward clinical psychologists and psychotherapists that are already somewhat familiar with EFT, the book provides an up-to-date review of EFT along with Timulak’s personal perspective on his experience as an EFT therapist.

Part I focuses on the theoretical conceptualization of emotional pain, with a detailed but concise presentation of the many sub-categories of emotional pain and the processes behind the transformation.  The larger half of the book, Part II, expands on the practical applications of EFT by diverging into a less textbook, more personal account of emotional transformation.  Timulak reflects beyond an analysis of client’s perspective as he candidly reveals his own trials and tribulations from his perspective as a therapist.

Perhaps the most compelling component is the bountiful inclusion of case transcripts from different clients.  The dialogues are prefaced with Timulak’s categorization of the vignette, e.g. building self-compassion and protective anger in a client with depression and anxiety with a hurtful mother, along with a breakdown of what exactly the therapist is doing in between lines and at the end of the dialogue.

From working with the emotionally avoidant to the emotionally overwhelmed and conducting short term versus long term treatments, Timulak covers a wide range of strategies for treating different types of individuals and for resolving the various difficulties that arise in the therapeutic process.

Transforming Emotional Pain in Psychotherapy: An Emotion-Focused Approach presents a review of EFT with well-informed categorization of the many sub-components of emotional pain coupled with real case transcripts and the reasoning behind both the client’s and therapist’s advances.

Read an excerpt here
Transforming Emotional Pain in Psychotherapy 300Timulak, L. (2015). Transforming Emotional Pain in Psychotherapy: An Emotion-Focused Approach. Routledge. IBSN 1138790168, 9781138790162. Hard cover.183 pages. Includes Index.

Key words: Emotion-focused therapy, avoidance, core emotional pain, trauma, depression, protective anger

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