How to Improve Emotional Intelligence with Psychotherapy
How to Improve Emotional Intelligence with Therapy
This is the second of two posts discussing the importance and benefits of emotional intelligence.
Click here to read the first post, What is Emotional Intelligence?
Our emotional intelligence impacts many crucial aspects of your day-to-day life, such as the decisions and ways you manage yourself personally and professionally, and the way you connect and relate with others.
Having high emotional intelligence provides you with the ability to recognize and understand your own emotions, empathize with the emotions of others, and engage meaningfully and interpersonally in social, family and work-related situations.
Being able to do so means that you could form healthier relationships, attain greater success at work, and lead a more satisfying life.
Further, emotional intelligence provides you with the ability to identify, utilize, comprehend, and handle emotions in positive ways to ease tension, communicate more effectively, struggle less with difficult moods, and manage conflict.
With all that said, for all the advantages that having high emotional intelligence can offer, there are various and multi-faceted competencies to develop.
As discussed in the previous post, utilizing Daniel Goleman’s model of emotional intelligence, there are five main competencies:
Empathy & Compassion
For a breakdown of each of these competencies, please refer to the previous post What is Emotional Intelligence?
While these two traits are within the same emotional realm, there are subtle differences between empathy and compassion.
Empathy is the ability to have a subjective understanding of the emotional experiences of other individuals.
The difference with compassion is the ability to feel for another individual, not as. And when compassion is felt for another individual, this often motivates us to want to assist, while not interfering with our own emotional experience which otherwise may hinder us from being there for others.
Understanding and cultivating self awareness is complicated, but essentially includes the ability to understand and ‘know’ yourself appropriately, having a grounded non-judgemental sense of self knowledge when it comes to all aspect of yourself: the good, bad, ugly and everything else in between.
Self-regulation involves the ability to shift feelings, including challenging ones, such as anger and frustration, into more productive means so that it provides you with the ability to better adapt to shifting or changing scenarios.
Social skills indicates that you can navigate the intricacies of relationships to have more meaningful, mutually satisfying and richer connections.
Psychotherapy or talk therapy does not just address each element of Daniel Goleman’s emotional intelligence model, engaging in the therapy process can significantly improve each of the competencies.
Below are some ways in which talk therapy can help to enhance the vital skills and competencies required for emotional intelligence.
• Having a safe, trusted and dedicated time and place to discuss your emotional concerns with a psychotherapist can provide you with immediate feedback on your thoughts and feelings. Engaging in this process can help to clarify your strengths and weaknesses.
Many individuals typically underestimate or do not believe in the significant difference it can make to verbalize and share your intimate thoughts and feelings with another individual.
In the case of therapy, therapists are trained to listen carefully and provide specific, but non-biased, feedback for you and your concerns.
Therapy can provide a powerful emotional experience that can bring clarity to the way you experience and perceive yourself, others, and the world.
When you can utilize therapy to overcome difficulties, the therapeutic relationship highlights what you already do well, in addition to identifying areas of ongoing growth.
• Therapists can provide assistance in techniques which can be used to learn self-regulation to help improve your control over your thoughts, emotions and reactions.
Psychotherapists can also help you to understand and manage difficult and uncomfortable emotions.
And, on an unconscious level, working with someone that is providing you with their full psychological skillset can impact your own ability to self-regulate. Therapy offers the unique opportunity to learn more adaptive and effective coping techniques.
Therapy can also help to improve your ability to self-regulate in various ways.
Psychotherapists may help to do so by demonstrating deep breathing techniques, mindfulness exercises or mind and body relaxation techniques. Additionally, therapists may also work with you to identify emotions more accurately and ways to improve your ability to handle challenging situations.
• Through the therapeutic relationship, it is possible to learn how to manage and resolve relational conflict, tensions and differences allowing you to enjoy and maintain more meaningful relationships.
If being able to talk about your needs with others is difficult, you can discover how to request and negotiate how your wants and needs can be fulfilled.
It may also be possible to learn now to express difficult emotions, such as dissatisfaction and disappointment, in productive and caring ways.
Being able to cultivate the ability to have challenging conversations with others strengthens your sense of self and can provide the level of self confidence to improve your relationships in all areas of your life, and as such, improve emotional intelligence.
Like all other relationships, the therapeutic relationship takes work to maintain, improve and grow. Misunderstandings undoubtedly arise during the course of psychotherapy, and each of these situations become a valuable opportunity to enhance your ability to manage and resolve conflicts.
• Increasing awareness of your own inner psychological and emotional experience through psychotherapy enhances your capacity to understand and empathize with others.
The more that you increase your self-awareness through engaging in psychotherapy, you learn to appreciate the complexity of other individuals, as well.
When you learn the ability to control and process any negative feelings you may have toward others, it can be an emotionally liberating experience to no longer have thoughts and feelings, such as resentment and anger, as part of your consciousness.
You discover that you have the capacity to forgive others regardless of their differences from you, and when you are able to do so, it deepens your capacity to connect with more people no matter how different from you as they may appear.
• Resolving your emotional and psychological discomfort minimizes internalized difficulties, which releases mental and emotional obstacles that you can then use as motivation to be more productive, engage in more meaningful relationships and accomplishing your personal and professional goals.
Being able to transform your suffering into something more workable increases access to being more fully engaged, present and contented.
There is more possibility of experiencing joy and enthusiasm for life. In doing so, the motivation that sparks the ability to achieve your goals and objectives are more available to you, and you can also gain more of the energy required to live a more fulfilling, effective life.
Working with a therapist with whom you have a good fit will allow you to deepen your strengths and emotional intelligence.
Further, you will likely find that the reasons for which you may have sought therapy have transformed in ways you may have not imagined and that as your emotional intelligence increases, you may find that more possibilities and choices have increased, as well.
If you are interested in meeting for a reduced fee initial session to discuss how psychotherapy can provide you with a personalized approach to developing emotional intelligence to benefit you in your relationships, improved mood, work performance and more, please contact me here.