Arousing primary vulnerable emotions in the context of unresolved anger:“Speaking about” versus “speaking to”. Academic Article uri icon


  • Arousing and processing primary vulnerable emotions is a core change mechanism across a wide range of psychotherapies and clinical populations. This study examined the utility of 2 emotion-focused interventions—relational reframes and empty-chair enactments—in terms of arousing primary sadness associated with loss and longing among individuals suffering from unresolved anger. Twenty-nine women reporting unresolved anger underwent a single, analogue emotion-focused therapy session comprised of empathy, relational reframe, and empty-chair interventions. The arousal of sadness was measured with voice signal, voice quality, and speech fluency measures. Results indicated that both relational reframe and empty-chair interventions led to increased arousal of sadness relative to baseline nonemotional speech. Empty-chair interventions also led to increases in fear/anxiety, presumably due to the potential for rejection or attack by the significant other (i.e., attachment figure). Treatment implications are discussed.

publication date

  • January 1, 2010