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Addressing Emotional Triggers
Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes
Executive Director, AllCEUs Counselor Education
Host: Counselor Toolbox Podcast
~ Review things that can trigger emotional upset
~ Identify ways to prevent and mitigate emotional upset

Emotional Triggers
~ Emotional triggers are things that cause you to react with anger (fight) or fear (flee/freeze) or f*** it (depression)
~ Common emotional triggers
Primary Prevention
~ Primary prevention identifies modifiable risk and protective factors
~ Ex. Washing your hands
~ Helps people deal with life on life’s terms and minimizes vulnerabilities
~ When people are healthy, safe, loved, supported and have a sense of self-efficacy then things that might otherwise seem overwhelming may feel more manageable.

Primary Prevention
~ Interventions
~ During the assessment, identify:
~ Areas of life that are going well (Hardiness)
~ Strengths (Enhance)
~ Risk factors/Triggers (Minimize)
~ Emotional
~ Mental
~ Physical
~ Environmental (People, pictures, sounds, smells)

Primary Prevention
~ Protective Factors
~ Self Efficacy
~ Enhanced by developing an early intervention plan during the assessment (What are 3 things you can address this week…)
~ Small successes increase self efficacy

Primary Prevention
~ Protective Factors
~ Physical Health (Handouts)
~ Sleep: Why it’s important and sleep routine worksheet
~ Nutrition: Why it’s important and food diary (online)
~ Pain: Why it is important, ergonomics, suggestions for non-drug pain management
~ General Health (diabetes, thyroid, heart, autoimmune): Why they are important and how they can impact mood and distress tolerance

Primary Prevention
~ Protective Factors cont…
~ Social Support
~ List 3 supportive people—How can you nurture these relationships?
~ List 3 people who can be destructive—In what way are they destructive and how can you deal with them in the short term?
~ Assertiveness Skills
~ Economic Security
~ Work Satisfaction

Primary Prevention
~ Protective Factors cont…
~ Emotionally and Physically Safe Environment
~ What is stressful in your current environment? How can you address that? (Media, people, sounds, sights etc.)
~ What could you do to make your space more relaxing and trigger happy memories and feelings?
~ Pictures
~ Colors
~ Aromatherapy
~ Organization
~ White noise
~ Curtains/blinds

Primary Prevention
~ Protective Factors cont…
~ Psychological Flexibility
~ What does a rich and meaningful life look like to me?
~ What things can I do to start working toward that?
~ What things do I need to stop doing to start working toward that?
~ What thoughts can I have that will help me have the courage, strength, contentment and motivation to turn off autopilot and start making conscious choices?
~ (Hint: Efficacy, empowerment, compassion, acceptance, tolerance, willingness, patience…)
~ Key question: Are my current thoughts and behaviors getting me closer to or further away from what is important to me?

Primary Prevention
~ Protective Factors cont…
~ Self Esteem (Worksheet to be processed)
~ How would your best friend describe you?
~ How would your child describe you?
~ How would you describe yourself?
~ Describe the person you want to be.

Secondary Prevention
~ Early Intervention
~ Prevents it from getting worse
~ Once someone is triggered, what can they do?

Secondary Prevention
~ Interventions
~ Distress Tolerance
~ I’m upset and feeling out of control. What do I need to do? (Stop and get into your wise/thinking/acting mind.)

Secondary Prevention
~ Interventions
~ Mindfulness Part 1
~ What are the FACTS of the situation?
~ What am I thinking?
~ What am I feeling emotionally?
~ What are my urges?
~ How do I feel physically?

Secondary Prevention
~ Interventions
~ Mindfulness Part 2
~ Am I using emotional reasoning? (Do the facts support my feelings?)
~ Am I confusing high and low probability events?
~ What response choices do I have right now that will help me use my energy constructively?
~ How could I embrace the bad with the good or change my perspective?
~ Rejection (relationship problems or ends)
~ The unknown (health problems)
~ Loss of control (politics)
~ Failure (quit a job)
~ What could I have noticed earlier prevent this upset?

Secondary Prevention
~ Interventions
~ Coping and Problem Solving Skills
~ In the past when this has happened, how have I…
~ When this is NOT happening, what is different?
~ What parts of this situation are in my control?
~ Who can I call to get support?

~ Addressing emotional triggers involves helping people
~ Enhance their happiness, sense of connection/support, efficacy
~ Understand and heal their body to support their mood
~ Improve their environment
~ Learn to practice the pause with distress tolerance skills
~ Develop mindful awareness of their thoughts, feelings and urges and their rich and meaningful life.