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Hello and welcome to this edition of the thoughtful counselor Podcast. I'm Dr. Raisa Miller here today with Dr. Z day. And Jenny Seibel C Z's c j, sorry with the the names we had talked about that before even started and here I am already messing up, but she is an associate research scientist at the Yale Child Study Center. She currently works on the sustainable social and emotional learning assessment project. And her research focuses on emotion regulation in children and adolescents. Z j is also a licensed psychologist and a nationally certified school psychologist. And then we have Jenny and Jenny is a research assistant also at EO. She's at the Yale Center for emotional intelligence. She currently works closely with several schools to learn more about how assessments can be integrated into school based social and emotional learning initiatives to inform decisions and adaptations. And previously, Jenny worked with adolescents in a residential setting. She holds a Master's in Education and Human Development and psychology from Harvard University. And excitingly, the two researchers had teamed up to write an excellent opinion piece recently, and EdSurge, called emotions come and go in waves, we can teach our students how to surf them. And that's what we're really going to be diving into today to the information they covered in their article and other ideas related to their research. So Z j. Jenny, thank you both for joining me today.
Thank you for having us.
Thank you so much. We're very excited.
Yeah. And just just for the sake of noting this, too, I will include your full bios in the show notes. So for those interested in learning more about what they're doing, because I have to summarize who you are, and two or three sentences, but there's more out there on the internet to learn about what these two amazing researchers are doing. And I'll make sure to include all those links in the show notes. Okay, to get us started. I'm really curious, what was each of your journeys into researching social and emotional learning?
Yeah, yeah, I can, I can start off. So ironically enough, I actually interned at the center here, back when I was an undergrad. And then I took some some detours before coming back in 2019. So when I graduated, I thought I wanted to do clinical work. And I spent a couple of years working in residential treatment, as you mentioned, and specifically working with adolescents who struggled with emotion dysregulation. And I was teaching them skills on emotion regulation. And I realized that it was unfortunate that these were the only kids who were receiving these these set of skills, and felt that there was a big lapse in terms of needing them taught, needing the emotion regulation skills taught in a broader context was brought me to the center, which does does some of that work, which is in a school setting. And for those educators out there, that's sort of the tier one so to speak, set up, right, so reaching a much broader population of young people than in in the dire crises, situations that I was seeing beforehand. So. So that is how I ended up at YC. I started in 2019. And I've been here ever since.
Amazing, and I do love that focus on being able to work with the larger population for prevention. I'm guessing when you were in residential treatment, it was like intervention, it was you know, a lot of kind of music crisis responding and skill teaching, but in the schools, you get the opportunity to work with students that maybe don't have concerns with emotion dysregulation or the behaviors that result yet but and you can kind of give them those skills before they even need them, which is amazing. That's exactly right. Yeah. All right. And Z j, what about you, what's your journey?
Um, so I do not know much of about social emotional learning, even though I'm a school psychologist by training, because we're so into, like, into schools like the tier two and tier three, that's my main job as a school psychologist, more of the targeted and intensive interventions. And so I've always been interested in emotion regulation to an adolescence. And it's until I came to the center because of the emotional regulation piece that I began to learn a lot more about social emotional learning, which I really love. Because like what Jenny mentioned, it's more of a proactive approach, rather than a reactive, reactive approach to all this, like mental health issues that we're having in schools. And so as a school psychologist, I'm always doing like, troubleshooting, right, fighting the fires, like,
And I wish that could be more can be done like upfront, like universal before the kids have enriched me. And so that's when I started, like becoming more interested in social and emotional learning.
Yes, yes. And okay, so let's learn what you've learned and are learning. But before we dive into social emotional learning, and emotional regulation, it might be helpful to just operationalize these terms for listeners so that we all know we're talking about the same things. And in asking this, I also acknowledge that there's probably not a consensus definition that everyone would agree on. But let's just start with maybe what s3 could agree on. Or at least you to, and I'll agree with you. What are emotions, and what is emotion regulation.
So I'm actually going to use the APA definition, which is actually under the AP Psychology dictionary. So they basically define emotions as complex reactions to a situation or an event. And as you mentioned, there are so many different and like definitions of emotion and emotion regulation. But broadly, emotion regulation is basically an effort by which individuals modulate the emotions in pursuit of the individual goals.
Okay. So just to, like, make sure I got it right. Emotions are complex reactions to and what just events? Or what did you say the full
Okay. And then regulation of emotion is any effort that an individual would exert to try to modulate that emotional response? Okay, Jenny, would you have anything to add to those?
Yeah, I think the only other thing that here at the center we try and hammer home is that emotions are information. And, and there is very important information. And another one is that try to stay away from emotions being categorizing them as good or bad, and rather talk about them as pleasant or unpleasant. And so emotions can can fall into those categories, but not trying to place value value in the good or bad realm. And so those are those are the two additions, I would add, but I like I like going back to the standard, solid APA definition.
Yeah. So when you're in schools, I mean, you've been in schools working with these programs, developing these programs. What have you found out? In what ways? How are children and adolescents? Kind of? I don't know how to ask this exactly. But when are you having emotions important or useful to them? And when are they needing to regulate them more? Does that make sense? Like if you vote if emotions are kind of neutral in the sense that they're either pleasant or unpleasant, but certainly they can be helpful or unhelpful in school settings.
Yeah, so I think that we just just to clarify, so we are doing a lot of assessment development, which is collecting data, but not on a day to day being in schools. And so CJ, having had experience in schools directly might be able to speak to some anecdotes here. But I think that that is really individualized. And the point of our article is that there is no there is no perfect answer to when, when emotion regulation skills would be necessary. And it's it's it's situation dependent, and individual dependent, too. And I think, you know, there can be sort of two avenues here. When you're experiencing an emotion and becomes overwhelming. Do you want to just get through the moment and allow them the emotion to pass and tolerate it? Or do you want to change how you're feeling or the intensity of what you're feeling and that would be the emotion regulation route. But I think that is that is so individually dependent on on people's own experiences of a particular emotion and justice, the situation that they're in some situations are more able for individuals to to regulate and others are you really it's more on the acceptance and tolerance side of things. CJ, would you add anything?
Yeah, I just I guess like emotions are generally I feel helpful regardless of whether they are pleasant or unpleasant. It's like what Jenny mentioned, when the judgment value is placed on them that they are bad, or they're good, that when children in schools, they do not want to talk about their emotions, I'm sure a lot of counselors and school psychologists or even teachers will feel that way. Like, Why are students not wanting to talk about emotions, because there's a stigma about talking emotions, like talking about my anger, my sadness, and my anxiety that is bad. These emotions are bad, I shouldn't be talking about it. And so we want that's why our center like what Jenny mentioned, we want to call this emotions as unpleasant but they can be helpful. Like their
information like they they're trying to tell you something. What are what are they trying to tell you? Yeah, exactly.
Like what Jenny says, like, why are you feeling angry? Why are you feeling scared? Is it because of what's the root cause of it, they're providing information for you. And like, like, there's a lot of research on this, like how anger makes us feel like injustice, or unfairness to like, resolve the situation or change the situation, feeling scared or anxious, keeps us on our toes, and prevents us from being close to danger. So there's actually helpfulness in terms of emotions, even though they're unpleasant. But as what Jenny has already mentioned, it becomes overwhelming, they're when they're too intense, when they last for too long, or when they're not appropriate for the situation.
That makes sense. So it is a very individualized emotions are a very individualized experience. And whether they're helpful or not, or, or what you need to do in response to emotional experiences is going to be dependent on a lot of factors, which, as you mentioned, Jenny is the point of your article. And I'm excited to dive into that. Because I mean, I come from a counselor, mental health background, professional counselor role. And I think as counselors, we're, we're kind of in the emotional world where like, we we like emotions, we are curious about emotions. And we think resolving emotional distress is, like paramount. And yet, it's not always the most helpful thing for a person in a moment. And so I think that maybe is what stood out to me, one of the reasons I was so drawn as I was reading your article is just like, kind of almost checking my bias as a counselor to recognize that there's really adaptive reasons and helpful reasons why someone might not cognitively pray something or even accept an emotion in the moment, like sometimes distraction. And we'll get into this anyway, I got real excited as I was reading it, as you can tell, and that's why I've already like diving into the content. But before we did dive into this idea of regulating, I think it might be helpful to explore some reasons, or at least kind of get some framework of why some students might struggle more than others. And I think this is where development and developmental science comes in which Jenny, that might be your expertise here since you got a master's in it. But why do some children struggle more than others with regulating emotions in whatever way?
Yeah, I can I can start off here. And I also, I think there's an important point I want to go back to with your prior comment, in terms of regulating unpleasant emotions. And I think the one thing that that we forget is that sometimes actually present emotions need to be regulated, as well. And especially in young people, we got to
say you're you could tell you're working with adolescents. Yeah. So
you know, it's, it's the day before winter break, right? And you're super excited, but there's a test between you and winter break, right, and you have to modulate that excitement so that you can actually really focus and perform on the assessment. And so I think we need to remind ourselves that again, it's not it's not just unpleasant emotions, and then an a reason to not regulate or sort of mitigate or distract yourself. For example, you have anxiety about an assessment coming up, right? That's actually really motivating, like that tells you you need to study And as long as it's not overwhelming and sort of crippling, right, I think that that's actually really important to, to pay attention to and to not distract yourself or regulate that emotion. So I just wanted to point that out in terms of just when emotion regulation comes in into practice that these, these is so situation dependent, right and figuring out what is necessary. And what is going to not cause bigger problems later on is is is the phrase I like to use? Is this, you know, it might be more comfortable in the moment, but is that going to cause bigger problems later on if you don't study? And so I like to think about it in that sense. Actually, I think CJ is the one who can who can potentially talk about the developmental developmental piece here. And I don't know if you want to start with that CJ?
Oh, sure. So as we know, like, emotion regulation as affected by your developmental D, specifically, like, ah, there's so many different approaches. There's behavioral strategies like avoidance, there's cognitive strategies like reappraisal or reframing how you see a situation. But this strategies require more of the executive functioning, or the prefrontal cortex, which we know matures later in life. So it takes a little more support for younger students to use more cognitively complex strategies like reframing reappraisal, or even problem solving, problem solving requires you to generate solutions, to think about the situation to think about whether the solution that you generate it as positive or negative, and also trying out the solution, it requires a lot of cognitive effort. And for those, like, should reduce, or require more cognitive effort definitely affects called Children use or adolescence to use it based on their developmental level.
Okay, so kind of like what Jenny said, even in asking, Is this going to cause more problems for me later, like asking a five or six year old that they're going to be like later, like, like, I live in the moment like, so that might be less effective? Because it's so cognitive and executive functioning? Kind of dependent? Versus you could use that strategy with someone who's 1112 1315. And, and they should have the cognitive development to be able to engage in that meaningfully?
Yeah, I would think so. And I also think this is a good point, CJ was reminding me just just before we came on here, that the research some of the research she engaged in, you know, found that actually individuals, as young as five, right, Z j, can engage in in reappraisal with support. I think we also we remind ourselves that this is scaffolded. And eventually, as you said, that, that it in later years, individuals will be able to, to be able would use these sort of independently, right, but also to not eliminate that completely from the repertoire or what we scaffold with young people, because the research does show that that they're, they're able to use strategies that are maybe more cognitively based, more complex, with support, right, so helping scaffold for a younger individual concept consequences, and, you know, evaluating how they're feeling. And if it is too intense, and, you know, different strategies about problem solving, etc, that that can that can still occur, and that actually is probably beneficial to engage in those with younger individuals, so that when they when they are older, it might come more naturally, if it's been scaffolded. In in earlier years. So I thought that was an interesting thing that zj had reminded me of that sometimes I think we probably glaze over. Simply because that sounds
very important to be mindful of. And just because CJ, you said like executive functioning isn't fully developed, just because it's not fully developed doesn't mean they don't have an executive system at five or six. You're right. And how do we develop it? Well, you develop it with practice. So yeah, that makes complete sense that even though they might you wouldn't expect him to do it independently, that with support or coaching or, you know, through connection can practice the skills of problem solving and reappraisal
Yeah, young children are like sponges they absorb so much and we can always start by building a foundation. What a social emotional learning.
Yeah, yeah. Okay, so Oh, maybe this is a good time then to jump into these different strategies and unpack them. Oh, I don't know who wants to start. But what were some of the strategies you covered in your article? And then the pros and cons of each?
Yeah, so I think maybe a good place to start Z j, I'm looking at you through the screen here is is just to talk about how you landed on these eight strategies. Because I think that's really important when we talk about these eight strategies, because there are some that are not in this list that people might commonly think of, and to point out why they didn't make it to our top eight.
Yes, I want to know.
Yeah, so that's a good question. So we chose this eight strategies, based on an assessment that we are currently building in the center, which is called the Student emotion regulation assessment that looks at these eight strategies. And the reason why we pick these eight strategies is because they are often used by children and adolescents. Or they are often taught in social and emotional learning curricula in schools. And also another reason is because they can be easily used in schools. So for example, a lot of people use, like exercise or like listening to music, taking a walk, to ask like emotion regulation strategies, but this might not be easily used in schools, right, you can't just leave the classroom to take a walk or just put on your headphones during class. And apart from that, we also look at strategies that has more cultural equivalents. In the sense like we then add, for example, suppression, because suppression has research has shown that may have negative effects for, for example, more of the western population or western individuals, they may have some beneficial effects from individuals who are from the Eastern society. And for us, which has such a huge, like immigration population and things like that, we just want to make sure that the strategies that we use have like, somewhat like cultural equivalents that can be easily used.
That's a very important point that the cultural relevance and thinking about how different strategies might have more might be more helpful for people of different cultural system, you know, belief systems versus others. And yeah, the suppression is very, is a very interesting one, because I identify with the kind of dominant Western culture and have this belief that like suppression is is always bad, right? Like you like, it's, you're just gonna hold it in your body, and it's gonna come out in some other way of behavior or, you know, some other problematic way. But that's because I believe, you know, in a way, it's because I believe it's bad, but what you're saying is the end of sun and I've, I'm not familiar deeply, but I've seen the research citations that speak to individuals from more Eastern cultures, where that is a valued trait to be able to kind of hold your emotions in earth or suppress them, like that's culturally valued and seen as a good thing. So then the result of it is less negative, even positive. Okay, and but you didn't include that in the eight stress depression is not on the list, because there is such cultural variability and how its utilized and impacted. Yes, exactly. Okay.
And I think also, I'll just say, this goes, this goes back to our main point, right, is that there's no one size fits all. And that's why there is a list of eight and there's not one gold standard one, you know, magic bullet here. That would solve all right, and there's pros and cons to each strategy. And there's also just like, individual preference and their situational setups, like CJ said, and, you know, exercise is one that is commonly used and actually very effective, right, but but not included, because it's not always accessible to us in schools. And so I think it again, like this, this just underlines the the there is no one size fits all and to have many in your repertoire. Is is the best practice. In our opinion here.
You Yeah, that that makes complete sense. Especially when you're working in the schools, you are limited by, by the school system in a realistic way. So it sounds like both the assessments you're working on developing and then kind of the implications of your work in terms of what the applications are, how people are practicing it. You try to keep it very practical, realistic, doable. So, yeah, who wants to start maybe identifying one of the eight and talking through what it is and when it could or isn't useful?
Yeah, maybe? Oh, do you want to start first?
Well, I was just I was going to start with one that might be slightly more, there might be a bias towards towards this one, which is, I think often might help people switch their thinking around emotion regulation, but that's what I was thinking. I don't know, nosey J, do you want to hop in here?
No, go ahead.
Okay, so I was gonna, I was gonna start with avoidance and escape. So this is one you know, avoiding a situation removing yourself from a physical situation, or avoiding sort of cognitively, which is a little bit more complex, I would say the the cognitive avoidance. But if we think about physical avoidance, right, this is one that I think often that people hear that word and, and like, just like you were talking about suppression, right, that becomes an immediate Oh, that thoughts? That's bad. And going back to our, there are pros and cons, right. And so I think a real life example would be, you know, you have someone who's, who is maybe in like middle school, right, and they are being bullied, right, and they actually avoid someone who might be targeting them, or harassing them, they physically avoid them right? In the hallways, or, you know, in situations that that might feel scary to, to that student. And that's actually probably pretty adaptive, right? Keeping keeping that individual safe. And I think the con here, right is that, that then becomes that person's lifestyle, and it becomes restricted that this whole is now off limits for this kid. And, and, and that they're, they're potentially missing out in in situations. And so that would be a con is that it actually, it does restrict you in some situations. And so there are moments when, when it could be effective or not. And then And then, of course, the added piece, here is the situation, if you can actually physically avoid something, sometimes you can't write that that's not available to you. And also people's experience with certain with certain strategies. And so for example, if you grew up in a household where everything is avoided, and model that sort of the model for you, as well can play into why a student might choose or not a strategy. But that would be a protocol to avoidance, which is often I think, seen as something that is, is not is not not positive or helpful, but it can be very adaptive in situations.
Okay, So strategy number one, avoid or escape, and as helping professionals being open to that being an option with positive outcomes, at least in the short term, or and sometimes, for a student that that's a real option. Recognizing that? Well, it seems like if you do any one of the strategies all the time, or only that it's probably not going to be you're going to experience more of the cons, you know, if that's all you're doing, but having it in your pocket as a potential way to regulate emotions could be useful. Well, before we move on to strategy to z, J, did you have anything to add to this avoidance escape strategy?
No, I think Jenny talked about that beautifully.
All right, well, what about who wants to take the second strategy and we're not going in a specific order, but so whichever one you want to talk about next,
maybe I'll talk a little bit about the reframing, which scientific term is called reappraisal. Referring reframing refers to changing the way you think about an emotional situation. And generally it is seen as a very adaptive strategy. In terms of changing how you look at a situation, however, like, I just want to talk a little bit more about the cons. So incidents situations that can or should be changed, it might be counterproductive. So in our article we mentioned about bullying. So for example, if someone maybe shoves you one time, you can reappraise it as or reframe it as Oh, that person is having a bad day. But if that person does it multiple times, or a lot of times, should it should you be reframing it every single time or should this be something that should be changed? is reframing helpful here if it's actually bullying And so to think about whether the situation should be changed or not, instead of like just simply reframing or reappraising it,
right? As you say that what comes to mind is how individualistic that is. And maybe it goes back to a cultural piece to like it is that person's responsibility to, like regulate themselves or respond to this thing, when really the problem is not within the individual. Because their thoughts, there's nothing wrong with their thoughts. There's nothing that needs to be reframed, like this is a bad thing. And it is bad for them. And really, it's the other person or the system or whatever, that truly does need to be changed.
Yeah, and that's why like what Jenny mentioned, it's important for you to build a wide repertoire of strategies. So if like, something doesn't work after you tried it a few times, maybe it's time for you to switch to a different strategy, or use something else and try something else out. Yeah. Yeah. And also, like framing, as we mentioned previously, is a cognitive like strategy. It requires a lot of kind of effort. And sometimes it's just difficult to use it. Not just because of your age, but because you're tired. Like even as adults, sometimes it's just hard for you to reframe certain situations.
Yeah. Yeah. Tired, hungry? Exactly. Or that the situation and of itself is so arousing. Emotionally, you know, you're just so upset that you just don't have as much access to that cognitive energy.
Yeah. And when I was doing my clinical work, I usually teach cognitive, reappraisal or reframing by using like optical illusions. Oh, so how you can see things in different ways. So for example, a very famous optical illusion is the duck or bunny, the duck or a rabbit? You can look? Yeah, yeah. So how the situation how you can see it in different ways. And how some of the more complex optical illusion is very hard. For example, there's one that I think you can look at it as a young female, or as an older female, some of the kids have difficulty looking at those optical illusion and telling them like, yeah, that's how reappraisal reframing is like, sometimes is, you can't see it, even after I point out to them, or their peers pointed out to them, they still cannot see it. And some are like some other factors. Right, right. Like fatigue, cognitive complexity, sometimes, like they can see it another time, but just not this time.
Hmm. Yeah, that's I like the the normalizing of that to just so that you don't have to feel bad about struggling with it, that, that it that it makes sense that sometimes it's hard. And I love that idea of presenting the obstacle, or, you know, just kind of those puzzles in a sense as an analogy, because again, thinking developmentally with kids, even talking about this idea of reframing thoughts, like what are thoughts? And are those separate from who I am in reality, and so to kind of give them something concrete to demonstrate that with I bet is very effective, or at least opens another avenue for considering. So reframing reappraisal can be good, but isn't always the right response.
Okay. Anything to add to that, Jenny?
No, that was as EJ said before, that was beautiful. Today. I can take the next one and staying on this, this train of of our repetitive thinking I'm gonna do another Rs strategy. So repetitive thinking, which is sort of the lingo, we term is rumination, right? Again, I think there at least in the Western culture, there is definitely a bias that this one is bad, right. And this is sort of as as our name repetitive thinking is is is just thinking about a particularly emotional situation and perpetually. And this can actually be there can be some pros to this. And so one example that that was mentioned in the article here is for the after a sports game, right? You lose and if you replay the game and what happened and different strategies that you could try next time that's actually pretty productive. And thinking through and I think this happens a lot in sports. I'm not a particularly big sports fan, but But taking Video of have a game and replaying the video and talking through what happened and what went wrong and how to change next time is incredibly productive. I think it becomes counterproductive, right? If that is all you focus on, you lose sleep over it, you can't stop replaying it in your mind, right? And then you have trouble performing in the next athletic event you're in. Right? Because you're thinking about that last time. And so that's when so you can see some of the cons come up. But I think, again, focusing on there are some benefits to doing this, this strategy in certain situations.
Well, correct me if I'm wrong, but one of the small kind of things I picked up on what you were saying about the helpfulness of the repetitive thinking is you're not necessarily ruminating over the emotion that you experience. Like, you're not saying, Oh, I'm so sad. I lost. I'm so sad. I'm lost. I'm so sad. I'm lost. You're more so reflecting on okay. Like, yes, I'm sad, I lost. And let me think a lot about what happened so I can learn from it. So it's almost more like a problem solving a reflective lens on that repetitive thinking versus just re experiencing, re experiencing re experiencing of the emotion. Is that with, is that fair to say? Or am I am I off?
No, I think you got it really well, like it's more of like, the focus should be like what you mentioned, like constructive, it should be helpful. If you're just thinking about why am I losing? Why am I losing my mind always to loser? It's not helpful, or constructive. But if you're thinking like, How can I do this better next time. And obviously, another point as a sort of focus should be like short term, you keep thinking about something for a long term. And just refill relieving those emotions again, and again, is probably not as helpful. Okay,
yeah. Like Jenny said, if you're losing sleep, or can't perform in the next game you have because you're so stuck in what happened last time. Okay. All right. We've made it through three. What's number four?
Um, maybe I'll focus on relaxation, because that one is like the number one strategy taught is schools, and social and emotional learning, curriculum. So I think relaxation is a strategy that is often like a behavioral strategy. And it's often like easy, relatively easy to teach. And it can be easily applied in school settings. But one of the struggles based on my own, like work with students is that they find it difficult to do it in the moment. They forget it that just flies off their brain, and they start tensing up again, like a robot. And I think the key that for this is practice, practice, practice, until it becomes natural. And until it becomes a habit.
Guess when you're not in the moment? zactly. Okay,
and making sure that they're doing it properly. Because sometimes, you might remind a kid to take like, deep breaths, but what they're doing is just like, over breathing, they're just taking like, quick, long breaths, and they're over breathing. And so they're actually escalating themselves, rather than de escalating. Okay, and so the focus is slow, deep breaths, and not just simply like doing it, like just breathing.
Okay. Yeah. So breathing is one relaxation, like when you talk about relaxation, breathing, the correct way of breathing might be one way, are there other ways that you teach relaxation in the schools or that that people teach relaxation in the schools?
Yeah, that's also like stretching, muscle relaxation. And again, this, I think that we need to like practice, practice, practice, so that it becomes automatic for the kids and for adolescents. So that they remember to do it in the moment.
Yeah. So the one thing I would add here, because I have some personal anecdote on on an example that just illustrates how this, these strategies don't always work for everyone simply because of prior experiences. I worked with a kid who actually had pretty severe asthma. And anything related to breathing was actually pretty triggering for him because it was focusing on a physical ailment, basically, that he had and asthma had caused him a lot of anxiety because he had had trouble breathing in the past. And so that was the strategy that just was not accessible to him in that moment. That doesn't mean that he won't be able to use paced breathing or you know, breathing techniques in the future, but knowing that about himself that actually got him more worked up was really important. And I think the same goes for like progressive muscle relaxation, right? That is a very focused attention on your body and how your body feels, and can be very, very rewarding and helpful. But those people who might have more sensitivity to focusing on whether they have they have chronic pain, or you know, they have other other issues about thinking about specific, you know, very intentionally specific parts of their body that that might actually not be helpful. And, and again, not forever, but it knowing that about yourself, and that's why, you know, having other strategies that are accessible to you. And I didn't, I didn't mean to interrupt, there's EJ, just one that was a personal experience I had that I think really illustrates how individualized this can be
clear that there's no judgment, whether it works for someone or not, that's what I'm hearing you both say to is, it's okay, if something doesn't work, it doesn't mean it won't ever work. But it's okay. It doesn't work. Now, there's no judgment that you are bad at one thing, so to speak, you know, like, I can't do mindfulness, right, or whatever, you know, because mindfulness is huge in the schools too. And I'm guessing some of that falls under relaxation, like the muscle relaxation idea. And it's okay that because there's other ways that you can regulate. Okay, so that was four, we ready to move on to five.
Yeah, Jenny gonna do the next one?
Sure, I gotta, I gotta look at my list and see what we haven't done. So acceptance is actually one that I had mentioned in the beginning of our discussion, as a way to sort of just accept what it is you're feeling, right? And it might not typically come to you as a regulation strategy, right? But it's really getting through that moment. And, and actually, you don't always have to make an emotion less. And sometimes it's, it's important to just sit with emotions. And so then that is where Acceptance comes in. And so I think, as long as the emotion is not overwhelming, and in a way that is paralyzing. It can be helpful if if it's tolerable. Yeah. So that one is, is maybe there's not a bias towards there, but I think, maybe forgotten in the conversation about regulation. And and so we like to
change our feeling, we don't want our feeling Are you kidding me?
I know, there's an important moment here, where you have to think about like, is this tolerable? Can I can I tolerate this, this mild level of anxiety? And how am I going to get myself through that moment? And that anxiety? Or do I need to feel, you know, change the way I'm feeling entirely?
What I would say clinically, even though accepting your emotions, like you're not going into it saying this is going to decrease it, I think that there is a natural, often a natural decrease in emotional intensity, by accepting and it also implies if you're accepting an emotion that you have identified, that you're having an emotion and emotional experience. And we haven't really talked a lot about that. But it seems like even that step of identifying I am having an emotional experience. And this is what my emotion is. It's kind of important before any of these strategies. I'm not saying they can't be used at all, unless you've like, accurately identified your emotion. But it seems like they would mostly be more effective if you could accurately identify what you're experiencing in the first place.
Yeah, that's the whole emotional intelligence package. Okay. And this is one piece of emotional intelligence, for sure is the regulation piece. And I will say we have a phrase around here and that we like to say name it to tame it. And so you know, naming your emotion and just sort of acknowledging it, it can go a really, really long way.
I think also, again, kind of that clinical piece of being able to let students know that emotional intense, like it just doesn't stay intense forever. And so being able to kind of, well back to your analogy of the wave, like kind of ride the wave and trust that like it's, it's not going to stay this intense, forever or for even that long. And that can be reassuring. Because scores in the mail in the moment it feels like it's never going to end and it's going to be like this forever.
Yeah. Did a did you have anything to add about the acceptance piece or do you think we're ready to move on to number six?
Yeah, I can talk about out emotional support seeking. So emotional support seeking is basically reaching out to others, regardless of whether they're adults or peers for support and comfort. And it is generally helpful when you are struggling to regulate your own emotions and you need additional help or support. However, it may not be as helpful if the support that you're seeking is not. They're not available, or they are not adequate. So for example, you might reach out to your friend or an adult, and then you might say, Oh, I'm feeling really angry, and then their responses get over it. You are, that's not a big deal. You are overreacting. It's everything. It's okay. You're overthinking it, is just like, ignoring, minimizing, dismissing others emotions, is just such emotional support or not like adequate. And also sometimes like a vulnerability, as we know, like, parents are so busy nowadays. And they might not have access to adults or friends do provide have support, so making sure that they have available supports and adequate supports, so that you can reach out to them.
So when, when there's someone available to help support you, and they know how to be supportive, it can be a great strategy. Yes, but just acknowledging that there's not always going to be someone there. And there might be someone there, that's actually more doing more harm than good in responding to your emotions. So being careful, like not having that be the only thing you know how to do is turn to someone else, because especially in schools, you mentioned parents not being available. Oh my gosh, teachers, you know, I mean, they have like, a whole class full of students. And if one student is constantly needing emotion, emotional support, you know, they're just not, that's not realistic and that setting.
Yeah, I think schools have so much on their plate. Yeah. I just want to schools is like the frontline defense of like children, adolescents mental health, because you can provide such a unique platform in terms of reaching a wide range of children and adolescents. But at the same time, they have the academic component, the same time, they have to support the social emotional learning, there's just so much that they have to do. But that's why like, again, a more proactive approach that we mentioned earlier. It's just so much more helpful.
Yeah. Okay, well, we only have two strategies left. What can we do? Right? Yeah,
yes, moving right along. So another one we haven't talked about is distraction. And, and, again, I think this gets thrown around a lot in school systems as a negative, they're distracted, they're, you know, they're, they, you know, aren't paying attention, etc. So this is this is really to define it, it's diverting your attention away from from a situation. And that can be whether it's physically distracting yourself or mentally distracting yourself. And this can be very effective in the immediate in the immediate moment, right, it can provide relief. And, and I'll give a personal example. And that is, as a young child, and still today as an adult. But of course, having more emotion regulation techniques, I hated going to the doctor, especially shots. And so distraction can be really helpful because being anxious for like, you know, days leading up to this appointment is really not productive and helpful and so distracting myself in ways that, for example, you know, you could go do a crossword puzzle, which is really cognitively engaging, right. I've also done you know, like singing out loud, the lyrics to a favorite song, right is using your brain in a way where you don't have the capacity to also be anxious now about this other thing, right? But I can't distract forever, because what if I'm doing that in the middle of a really important meeting or, you know, as a young person in school right during during a time when I need to be engaging in something else? So I think that those are, you know, situationally what and it can be helpful or unhelpful. But But can it it is, can be almost immediately effective in terms of decreasing the intensity of an emotion. Yeah,
you know, you're telling that story about the doctor, my mind immediately went to me flying, I have to fly, but I don't love flying, you know, I mean, it's just seems a little dangerous to be up in the air and not in control of it and all of that stuff. And just intuitively, a lot of times when I am flying, and I start to kind of notice my physiology, being a bit dysregulated, I will put on a movie or I can't usually read. Because even though I want to read like my mind, at that point, I'm a little bit too aroused. Like my heart rates a little too much, my palms are sweating. So reading, like, I just don't have the capacity to focus in that moment. But I can like watch a movie or like flip through pictures or something. And so I never really realized that that was a strategy that I was employing. But it did come it does come really relatively natural in some situations to distract.
Yeah, and I think this gets at, you know, in those moments, what is your capacity to engage in these and I think actually just thinking about it, right? Oftentimes, intense, intense exercise, I think can act as a distraction. And in my prior work, we used to, you know, someone who has a lot of anxiety, we would actually encourage them. Obviously, this can't be used in schools, necessarily, but encouraging them to run stairs, so run up and down stairs. And if you've ever done that as a workout, that is one of the most intense workouts ever. And there's a lot of different biological components to intense exercise. But anything one of those is like really hard to think about that thing. You're anxious about when your thighs are on fire, right? Like, there's a there's actually a component of distraction in that strategy. So I think, but of course, if you're really worked up something a little bit calmer, right, might might not be available to you, because it's just not diverting your attention. In a way, it's not a strong enough strategy for that moment. So I think that was a really great example about being on the plane and how, how reading isn't distracting enough. And it isn't, it isn't effective in that moment. So that's a great point about matching sort of where you're at.
Yeah, but I, I mean, like I said, I had never even I didn't have a label for what I was doing. And I wasn't like consciously doing it, but how useful this idea of labeling these strategies can be. And so, you know, like, we can trust our intuition and reflect on how intuitively we help ourselves regulate all the time. But then also to have kind of a, like, I can imagine this human being, especially for children, adolescents, like being on note cards, or I mean, I don't know how this is being implemented in the in the schools that you partner with, I know you're not in the schools necessarily, but you partner with schools, but you don't just to like be able in the moment to kind of look at something to say, okay, which, which one right now? Because these are, what they are, and what can I use? Be useful. Okay, we only have one left, number eight, what's the last one?
The last one is problem solving. Another one that is often taught in SEL. Problem solving is basically taking an action to change and emotional situation. And it's generally helpful when things are within your control. It's not as helpful when things are not within your control. So I think a lot of school counselors probably use this analogy of like, the mushroom versus the rock. So things that are within your control are like the marshmallow, right? You can like change the shape of it, you can melt it down to turn it into something else. You can change it, but a stone or rock, you can't change it. Yeah. So I think to make sure that you that students are like training lessons, don't feel frustrated, when they try to problem solve a situation that are not within
problems. There's just not solvable by you.
Yeah, like changing the weather, for exam. And so figuring that out. And also I think, one important point is that whether a situation is within your control or not, it's not completely black or white. There might be some aspects of the situation that is within your control and some aspects of it. That's not so for example, you got a not so good, not so good grade, a bad grade, for example. Can you change the grade? That's probably not within your control, but can you change the effort that Put in getting a great, yes. So even though it's the same situation, there's some aspects of it that's within your control. You can change it like marshmallow. But there's other aspects whereby you cannot change it because it's like a rock. Okay,
you definitely can tell you've been working in the schools, you have like this treasure trove of metaphors and analogies to use with, with adolescents and tn children that is so helpful, just the visual image of those two different set products. Yeah. Yeah. And I love the distinction between it's not black and white. SOT within your control or not, it's like sometimes a situation, there's aspects that can and can't be, and what can and what can you do and whatnot, I can see all these techniques, as you've covered them all now can also build on each other. Because, you know, like maybe the more cognitive Reliance strategies like reappraisal or problem solving, maybe that's you can't do that first, because you're too dysregulated. Maybe you need to distract or avoid to, like, calm down, and then employ problem solving or reappraisal or something. So sometimes it's not just pick one, it's Pick, pick one right now, and then another one in 10 minutes. And you know, really just kind of, I don't know, is that something you see? Or would recommend?
Yeah, I think there's something that we recommend not articles, so develop a wide repertoire of strategies, and you can use them individually or in combination.
Yeah, I mean, I like if we're going to go on this metaphor, example, you know, a hammer isn't isn't going to always help you build something right, or, or fix something. And you might also need a screwdriver, but you might need a hammer first, and then you use the screwdriver. Right. And so I think they're, you know, just thinking about, you can totally string them together. And, you know, sometimes use a strategy, and then you feel like you were still being a little something, you're not quite where you want to be in terms of in terms of where you're, what you're feeling in that moment. Right. And so then you you either try, you know, keep doing this strategy, you choose another one. And I think those are all those are all really, you know, valuable points that it doesn't have to be in isolation.
Yeah. Yes. So lots of strategies, different times, they're helpful in different ways for different people. Think about it. I mean, that's definitely one huge takeaway the articles is just broaden your thinking about the strategies and emotion regulation, in general, kind of take out the judgment, recognize that there's strengths and limitations to all of them. And that it's important to have a wide repertoire, because you're going to need it in real life. All of us do whether, you know, beyond children, adolescents, we all need a wide repertoire of ways to respond and regulate. Well, unfortunately, our time is like, going by way too fast. But I want to just ask you one last question and kind of give you a chance to share anything that we haven't covered today that you kind of came into this conversation hoping to share that you think is important for listeners to know, maybe it's what you're working on, maybe it's not just leave it completely open ended?
Yeah, maybe I could share something that our centers working on, I mentioned briefly that we are developing an emotion regulation assessment called the Student emotion regulation assessment, the Sarah what it looks like this at eight strategies, and it provides emotion regulation strategy profile of students, okay. So the tendencies of them to use like this eight different strategies. So and based on this information, what we hope that educators or adolescent students will take away from it is, so for example, if your emotional innovation and strategy profile shows that you use a lot of avoidance, is that helpful? Like if that is not helpful, if it's helpful, fine, continue using it. Maybe you should try something else. What are something that you haven't been using? Do you want to like? Have you even tried using them? Have you tried like, we are we appraisal reframing or you don't really use relaxation? Much, maybe you should try something else. So it just goes back. What? Just to sum up like what you mentioned before, it's not focusing on one, but a wide repertoire and just like pulling out different things from your toolbox, and making sure that you're not like, just actively overusing Sam and letting others to rust will have their strengths and weaknesses.
Yeah, as you probably remember from your work in the schools Like, traditionally, school counselors go in and do crafts, classroom lessons. And I could see that being a really useful part of a classroom lesson or I mean, of course, individual or group work to in the schools. But if you're trying to reach like the most people possible, you know that they could go in and give this assessment so that students have that personalized awareness or knowledge. And then from that, you know, target change, or if it's needed, or target learning in a different way. But how useful to give students and the people, the students work with educators, you know, the teachers, or the counselors or the psychologist a way to, to personally understand where students are currently at in their profile of regulating? That seems amazing. Is it like out there yet? Are we going to have to wait.
So we're still in the midst of validation? So yeah, but
not quite ready for like widespread use yet. But keep an eye on your website to see how that research progresses?
Yeah, but our goal is to make this free. Oh, nice. So hopefully, in the near future, it will be available to everyone once we've validated.
Okay, I'm gonna keep an eye out. Let people know around here. I mean, we're so far from you over and Idaho and the West Coast that sometimes things it takes longer to make it to us. But I'll personally try to make sure that that we know about what work you're doing, and because it just is so practical and so useful. Well, Jenny, what last thoughts did you have or ideas you wanted to share?
Yeah, I would just I think I just will end with those individuals who are listening who hope to sort of take this into their real world, I think it's so beneficial to even just acknowledge that there are more than one, there's more than one regulation strategy, I think goes a long way there are multiple and exposing, exposing kids to the fact that that is the case that it isn't the reality. And then acknowledging that there are pros and cons to each, I think also goes a really long way. I think these oftentimes can come as novel concepts to people, right, that there's more than one and that there's pros and cons and that what might work one day won't work the next day because you're tired, or you're you know, whatever it is. And then modeling also can go a really long way. So even without this direct instruction, the modeling and the pointing out that I'm using this strategy, because I'm, you know, XYZ. And then of course giving giving students opportunities to practice all these strategies and decide what feels good. And get practice and give them some autonomy in terms of what they choose in any given moment.
That makes complete sense. Yeah. And one idea that we didn't have time to really go into today. But I just want to put out there that as you were talking about this practical implications, as I was thinking back to the example of distraction, or even avoidance and some of the other strategies we covered today, and how in the school system, sometimes those behaviors are seen as a behavior problem, and how maybe the educators and support individuals that work with students, if they see those behaviors as a strategy to regulate emotion, that maybe then they can become more curious about what what is happening for the student that they're, that they're needing to use distraction or that they're, they're using avoidance. So really just kind of being able to understand behavior as, as potentially an adaptive strategy or maybe maladaptive, but certainly a strategy where some kind of need is at the root of might just might open up conversations that wouldn't otherwise happen or, you know, responses that wouldn't otherwise happen. So all in all, this is just great information that I think you're absolutely right, in the general population and in mental health field we don't always think about so intentionally and you've given us that in a really practical way. So thank you both for the work you've you're doing and have done and I look forward to continuing to follow your work and and learn more as we go into the future.
Thank you so much for having us.
Yes, thank you. Thoughtful counselor is baisa Daniel, Raisa Miller parents with Jessica Tyler, Stacy Diane on yes beach and me, Megan speciality. Find us online at the thoughtful counselor.com. Our funding is provided by Palo Alto University's Division of Continuing and Professional Studies. Learn more about them
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