January 5, 2011

Training Attention to Regulate Emotion

Several times before I have written about how solution-focused coaches and therapists subtly direct the attention of their clients (see for instance Solution-focused coaches manipulate clients in the direction of their own choice by subtly directing their attention, Redirecting attention from negative to positive in 3 small steps (PCO), and Focusing people's attention on the desired situation rather than asking them to admit they were wrong. In this article I have explained that solution-focused professionals through their interventions trigger positive emotions which in turn help clients to become more open minded and creative in finding solutions. Now there is an interesting new article on how attention and emotion regulation are related.

Fixing Our Focus: Training Attention to Regulate Emotion
Heather A. Wadlinger & Derek M. Isaacowitz

Abstract: Empirical studies have frequently linked negative attentional biases with attentional dysfunction and negative moods; however, far less research has focused on how attentional deployment can be an adaptive strategy that regulates emotional experience. The authors argue that attention may be an invaluable tool for promoting emotion regulation. Accordingly, they present evidence that selective attention to positive information reflects emotion regulation and that regulating attention is a critical component of the emotion regulatory process. Furthermore, attentional regulation can be successfully trained through repeated practice. The authors ultimately propose a model of attention training methodologies integrating attention-dependent emotion regulation strategies with attention networks. Although additional interdisciplinary research is needed to bolster these nascent findings, meditative practices appear to be among the most effective training methodologies in enhancing emotional well-being. Further exploration of the positive and therapeutic qualities of attention warrants the empirical attention of social and personality psychologists.

1 comment:

  1. Seems I've all ways been on the boundaries. Professionally - spent equal amounts of time in psychotherapy and OD. "Here we go again"...

    In the corporate world the abstract reminds me of what the old school mentor-on-the-job used to supply the for the recruits being groomed for the board room. He (traditionally) would show the younger, newer the tricks. Ie the magician says "look here" and produces a flash while behind the back does the manipulation or mechanics of the actual trick. The elder would not follow the flash but the workings of the manipulation. Corporate crisis can be like the flash, yet elders don't let that remove their attention from the important.

    In psychotherapeutics the abstract reminded me of the latter day models of Lenahann and others asking one to direct the mind to take president over the emotions engendered by a here and now event (emotional regulation, cognitive therapy, etc) to create a successful behavioral outcome.
    Whether it be personal or corporate each seek to engender competence.

    I will be interested in reading further, thank you for the Wadlinger & Isaacowitz referral (an act of mentoring in it's self!).
    Chad

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