The term ‘Emotional Intelligence (EI)’ has been described as a form of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and action.
Often clients come to my practice with the sincere wish to better understand and develop their inner landscape of thoughts and emotions. Most, if not all of my clients, truly want to know how this affects their relationships and their ability to perform at school and work.
Emotional Intelligence is a firm construct in the mind and body, but it is not rigid. Our ability to identify and soothe our own emotions is fairly stable over the course of time, and is often influenced by our early childhood experiences. If you were fortunate, you had a childhood experience that helped you gain a high degree of EI that allowed you to feel a wide range of emotions in yourself and others.
However, that is not the case for everyone. Many children don’t learn how to relate to their emotions in a healthy way. This can lead to challenges in a multitude of areas in one’s life. Remember, we all have areas of our lives where we can grow and they are NOT rigid. Change is possible. It does take dedication and guidance but change is possible.
One of the most important components of healthy EI is the awareness of how our emotions impact others. The therapeutic relationship is essential in this way. In therapy, we are actually training ourselves in how to relate to others effectively and with compassion. For instance, a therapist may use EI training to teach a client specific social skills, such as reading body language, empathizing with the feelings of others, and providing appropriate feedback.
Remember that when you are in therapy, the relationship you have with your therapist has a profound effect on your journey.
While many ingredients are required for a quality therapeutic relationship, the most important aspect of effective EI-coaching is when the therapist provides the client with accurate feedback. Most of us are generally unaware of how others see us, so therapy is an opportunity to learn how we are affecting another through our speech, body language, and actions. Any therapeutic process that focuses on increasing EI must begin by helping individuals understand what their real strengths and limitations are.
It’s hard work to increase your emotional intelligence. Embarking on the journey with a therapist can help provide objectivity, more fulfillment and the ability to meet realistic goals. Ultimately, you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.