Caregiver Skills - Emotion Coaching Step 2 (4 of 6)

By Elizabeth Easton
This video details the second step in emotion coaching: emotional support and practice support.

Dr. Easton’s six-part presentation is designed for families to learn about their role in recovery and the skills to become recovery coaches. If you have every wondered “what can I do to help my loved one recover?” this is the video training series for you. The skills taught here apply to “caregivers” meaning anyone who is providing care to a patient in treatment, no matter the age of the patient or the age of the caregiver. Learn how to harness your caregiver power.


Elizabeth Easton:
Hi, everyone. Welcome to Emotion-Focused Family Therapy, Emotion Coaching Step Two. I'm Elizabeth Easton, the National Director of Psychotherapy here at Eating Recovery Center and Pathlight Behavioral Health.

Today I'm here to do a follow-up video to another video. This is step two and if you hadn't watched step one, Emotion Coaching Step One, I'd encourage you to go back, watch that one and then come to this one. This is step two of a tool that I hope will help you support your loved one and the emotions they may be struggling with.

So, let's step in. So ,step two of emotion coaching is emotional support and practical support. So, what do we mean by that? Emotional support is what many of you are drawn to do in supporting your loved one already. Offering comfort, reassurance, or even giving them some space. Practical support is what others of you are really drawn to do when your loved one is struggling. Redirecting them to something else to think about or something else to do, helping them problem solve, or maybe even setting limits things that would be unhealthy or unsafe for them to do.

So, let's dive into this step a little bit more. So, just a reminder, you would do step one first. You do a deep validation or connection to what they're going through and try to prove that you understand it. In step two, you're going to come forward to help them feel that connection, really deepen that connection and then help them shift to something that may be more helpful.

So, first, emotional support. What do I say? How do I even approach this? Stop and think. What would you naturally say or do if you were well resourced? If you ate well, slept well, were relaxed and really connected with yourself and with them.

So, here are some examples. So, first you would say, I can understand why you might feel, think, or want the three becauses that we talked about in the last video. And then you would come forward and offer comfort. So, maybe a hand, a hug, loving words. It's important to notice here that your loved one may feel differently about each of these things. Maybe giving them a hug in that moment is uncomfortable for them, but putting out a hand or just making strong eye contact while providing comforting words.

Reassurance. It's going to be okay. You've got this. Communication of understanding. I understand how you're feeling. I hear you. Maybe saying that as they're conveying what else is going on for them.

Communication of positive regard. What does that mean? I know you're doing the best you can right now. Assuming that everyone is trying their best, doing their best and that the struggle may just be too hard in that moment.

Communication of a belief in the other. I believe in you can do this. I've seen you do hard things.

Communication of togetherness. We're in this together. I want what's best for you. I'm right here. You're not alone.

And space. Why don't I give you a few minutes and then we'll try again. And what's really important about this one is you don't want to provide them space without that sense of you're right there and you're going to come back and support them and try again. So, those are some examples of the emotional support step.

So, now let's talk about practical support. What does your loved one need to do more of or less of to get back on track with wellness? That's really the question for practical support. This is usually a pretty behavioral step. It's about problem solving. It's about getting them to shift and do something different.

So, here are some examples of that. You may start the sentence with why don't I, why don't we, why don't you. Proceed with whatever plan you had. Whether it was going for a walk, doing an exposure, maybe doing a challenging meal.

Suggest a distraction activity. Why don't we put on some music? Why don't we put on your favorite movie.

Redirect them to another thought or activity. Why don't we focus on this instead? Why don't we review some of your action plans whenever you got stuck.

Teach a skill like deep breathing. Remind them of the skills they've already learned.

Exposure to the anxiety provoking stimulus. What does that mean? Whatever it is they're afraid to go do, you would slowly and gradually move in that way. So, you're going to gradually move towards the thing that they're afraid of with support.

Offer solutions. So, practical solutions. How to solve the problem, what to do next. And maybe even set a limit. Say, "I need you to walk me through your room and show me what you're using to hurt yourself. I need you to take your fork and take another bite." So, really directing and even setting the limit of what you need to have happen next. And sometimes you don't even need to do this step. After coming forward with validation and connection and emotional support, your loved one may rise up to the occasion and be able to figure out what they need to do next all on their own. Stay there, support them through it.

So, these are the steps of emotion coaching. You have step one, validation, and step two, emotional support and practical support. I hope this was helpful. Go try it out and don't necessarily try it out on the most challenging situation. Try it out on something simpler or maybe a different loved one. Gain some confidence with it and then try it with your loved one in our care. Thank you for joining.

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