For a methodology of emotion regulation based on psychodynamic principles

Alessandro Grecucci, Luca Recchia, Jon Fredericson


Different therapeutic models from different theoretical orientations have incorporated over time principles and techniques to improve the emotion regulation of patients. However, when it comes to psychodynamic psychotherapy, a clear attempt to integrate knowledge from the science of emotion regulation has not been done yet. We believe the psychodynamic science may offer interesting reflections on: 1) what should be regulated during emotional regulation, and 2) how it should be done (strategies and techniques). In line with psychodynamic principles, we believe regulation should address two points: excessive anxiety elicited by the emergence of emotions; and defensive affects or secondary emotions created by defense mechanisms that replace and cover the primary emotions. The aim of the therapy is to regulate these affective states (emotion regulation, RE), and in the meantime help the patient to access, develop and express the primary emotions elicited by the stimulus (emotional expression, EE). After some necessary theoretical considerations, a proposal of a methodology of emotion regulation based on psychodynamic and experiential principles, and a serie of techniques will be presented. These techniques and principles can be used by the clinician to treat emotion dysregulation, as well as, by scholars to test new hypotheses in an experimental setting.  


emotion regulation; psychodynamic psychotherapy; affective neuroscience; anxiety

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