There is much focus today on children’s emotions. Constructs like emotional intelligence, emotional self-regulation, emotional well-being and emotional social learning are being bandied about like never before. Emotion, long dismissed as a nuisance factor, is now confirmed to be at the core of development and well-being. Yet little is being taught about the nature of emotion or the implications for parenting and teaching and treatment. In this course, Dr. Neufeld does a brilliant job of putting the pieces together to make sense of emotion, revealing the emotional roots of many behavioural problems, and clarifying the challenges for parents, teachers and helping professionals. 

Course Description

In this course, Neufeld outlines five basic steps to emotional health and development so adults can foster emotional well-being and get to the root of such problems as alarm, anxiety, agitation, aggression, impulsiveness, lack of empathy, bullying, and so on. This course is powerful in the insight it provides as well as the changes it inspires.

Suitability/Applicability

To make sense of emotion is to make sense of us all. There is no better way to glean insight into oneself and others. Having a working knowledge of the science of emotion should be a prerequisite for anyone responsible for children or working with adults. While the focus of the course is on children and youth, the content is applicable to individuals of all ages. This course is highly recommended for all helping professionals, educators and parents. This course is required for the Neufeld Parent Consulting Program as well as for faculty internship candidates. 

Topics/Objectives

Objectives of the course include:

  • to cultivate an appreciation of the pivotal role of emotion in development, perception and behaviour
  • to develop a language of emotion that can be used to reframe problems, lead to solutions, and provide access to intuition
  • to understand how emotional development unfolds, so as not to get caught in a battle against symptoms or sabotage the process by pushing for results
  • to be aware of the overall purpose of emotion as well as the purpose of individual emotions
  • to build a working model of emotion that can be applied across situations
  • to outline the five stages of emotional development so healthy maturation can be fostered
  • to be able recognize and address the emotional roots of behaviour problems

Topics covered include:

  • how to foster and restore emotional health and well-being
  • the role of the prefrontal cortex in emotional development
  • the six signs of a child in emotional trouble
  • why emotional expression is necessary and what happens when it is thwarted
  • how emotion serves attachment and attachment serves survival
  • what keeps emotions from being felt and how to remove these impediments
  • how emotional eruptions are at the root of most problem behaviour
  • what the primal emotions are trying to fix and what happens if this doesn't work
  • why emotional expression must not adversely affect a child’s working attachments
  • the construct and purpose of emotional defense
  • how the capacity for mixed feelings develops and why this capacity is so important
  • how empathy, courage, patience and self-control are the fruit of healthy development and how these virtues can be fostered
  • how aggression and bullying stem from emotional problems
  • how impulsiveness can be cured developmentally
  • how to handle difficult feelings in children and ourselves
  • why emotion can become depressed and how to reverse this process
  • what happens when feelings get hurt too much
  • how emotional balance is achieved developmentally
  • why the pursuit of happiness doesn’t work
  • why true play is necessary for emotional health and development
  • why children need to learn the language of the heart and how this language can be taught
  • the role of emotional conflict in developing the capacity to reflect 

Course Outline

The emotion course is formatted into six sessions with one hour of instructional video for each of the first five sessions and 1.5 hour of instructional video for session 6.  . 

Session 1 - Expression of Emotion

The first of the three laws of emotion is that emotion seeks expression. All emotions have a purpose that becomes thwarted when expression is denied or distorted. The two over-arching tasks of emotion are to bind us together and to grow us up.  Although expression is spontaneous, impediments can be encountered. The most serious impediment is when emotional expression adversely affects attachment.

Session 2 - Thwarted Expression

The adverse consequences of thwarted expression is discussed under five main topics: emotional dysfunction where emotion cannot do its work, distorted or displaced expression, depression as in flattened affect, failure to adapt to life circumstances, and troubling eruptions of emotion. The first challenge in dealing with problems rooted in emotion is to facilitate the expression of emotion without repercussion to a child’s working attachments.

Session 3 - Feelings and Hurts

The second law of emotion is that emotion seeks consciousness. Feeling is the conscious tip of emotion. The fundamental importance of feeling is explored. Major impediments to feeling include lack of emotional expression, lack of heart language, and emotional defendedness resulting from hurt feelings. Unfortunately many children lose their feelings with dire consequences for their functioning and development. Our challenge for such children is to help them get their feelings back.

Session 4 - Balance and Self-Control

The third law of emotion is that emotion seeks equilibrium, resulting in balance, stability and self-control. The mixing of emotions can only happen if emotion is first expressed and felt. The role of the prefrontal cortex is discussed as well as impediments to this spontaneous developmental process. Mixed feelings are explored as the prerequisite to courage, patience, empathy, reflection and self-control. The ultimate challenge for adults is to help children find their mixed feelings.

Session 5 - Five Steps to Emotional Health and Maturity

The five stages in emotional development are outlined, with the challenges for children and adults in each stage. The primary pitfall of well-meaning adults is to focus on the developmental outcome rather than the process by which children get there. When it comes to emotion, rewarding or focusing on the desired end result will actually backfire, often resulting in deeper emotional problems. The challenge when children are stuck is always to start at the beginning where root problems exist.

Session 6  -  Viewing and treating troubling behaviours as emotional problems

Emotion has been eclipsed by such constructs as learning, discipline, disorder and even disease. Emotion has also been eclipsed by our focus on behaviour, reason and self-regulation. Only when we begin to reframe problems in the language of emotion can we find a way through. Various problems are looked at to illustrate the issues involved, including attention problems, anxiety problems, bullying and aggression.

Registration Details

The tuition fee for taking Heart Matters: the science of emotion through continuing education is $200 CAD. This includes a virtual campus student pass of three months to access the videocourse material as well as other supporting materials. If a personal copy of the DVD set is desired, the tuition fee is $275.

Course Coordinator

Dr. Deborah MacNamara has been a member of the Neufeld Institute Faculty since 2009. She comes to this role with a strong academic background, teaching experience in university, as well as a professional involvement in treatment. She is in high demand as a speaker and presenter and highly respected as a teacher.

© 2016 The Neufeld Institute
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