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About this book

Winner of the CHOICE Outstanding Academic Titles, this key textbook offers an insight on the theory of emotional intelligence and its vital practical value. Elegantly and succinctly written, it makes a powerful case for the importance of understanding and managing emotions for effective professional practice.

Written for students and practitioners alike across a range of human services and caring professions, Howe’s work on attachment theory has been hugely influential. With a highly regarded reputation for setting the agenda in social work teaching, the author’s skills in communicating important theory in an engaging language make of this essential textbook a must-have for all current and future practitioners of the field.

Table of Contents

1. Once More With Feeling

Abstract
We are creatures saturated by feelings. We are a species that can love and hate. Having a strong sense of past, present and future, we can worry about what we have done, what we might do, and what might happen. It is because we are social beings that we are also emotional beings. Many of our strongest feelings arise in relationship with others: envy and shame, desire and regret, sadness and joy. In this book, I want to argue that the more we understand ourselves at the level of feeling, the wiser we become. Certainly, being intelligent about emotions and the part they play in our lives makes us socially more skilled. Knowing when to contain anger, knowing when to say nothing rather than something, understanding the value of a kind word at the right time, recognizing the need to stay with someone who is hurt rather than dismiss them as out-of-control, these are examples of emotional intelligence. It is this kind of intelligence that marks out personal success and wellbeing.
David Howe

2. What is Emotional Intelligence?

Abstract
The argument that emotional intelligence is of fundamental important across most domains of human functioning has, perhaps, been overstated. Even so, it might be reasonable to argue that the professions that work with people, particularly people in need and distress, should be populated by individuals in goodly possession of emotional intelligence. Social work is one such profession. It deals with people who are troubled and troubling. It enters the frame when emotions are running high. Social workers find themselves trying to help the frightened victims of domestic violence; older people who sink into depression as their mobility declines and independence ebbs away; disabled people who feel mounting anger as they try to move around in a world of steps and narrow doorways so thoughtlessly designed by and for those who can walk and squeeze and climb. If social workers are to understand and manage their own and other people’s feelings in these emotionally charged situations, then social workers will need to be emotionally intelligent.
David Howe

3. What are Emotions?

Abstract
One way of asking what emotions are is to examine their evolutionary and biological origins. We are then forced to ask a number of supplementary questions: Why do have feelings? What are emotions for? And why do human beings in particular have such an extraordinary range of emotional states? In this chapter we consider the evolutionary advantages that emotions appear to confer on most group living species, particularly human beings, the value of emotions in social problem-solving, and how feelings affect both mind and body.
David Howe

4. Emotional Development

Abstract
If children and ultimately adults are to become competent social players, they must learn to manage both their own and other people’s emotions. This will include becoming emotionally sensitive, aware and reflective. It will require an understanding of what causes feeling and how feelings affect us and our behaviour. Emotion regulation involves the modulation and control of our feelings and impulses, especially intense ones. Many emotions act as an internal guidance system, telling us what is important or acceptable, appropriate or dangerous, beneficial or risky (Wolfe 1999: 43).
David Howe

5. The Emotional Brain

Abstract
Over the last couple of decades, scientists have begun to understand some of the links between our brain’s biological make-up and our psychological experience. Advances in ways we scan, image and monitor the brain’s activities in real time have had a great impact on the neurological sciences. This has been particularly true of our understanding of the emotions. The title of this chapter is a straight steal from LeDoux’s 1998 landmark text, The Emotional Brain. As the subtitle of his book suggests, LeDoux explores ‘the mysterious underpinnings of emotional life’.
David Howe

6. Emotions and Physical Health

Abstract
Folk wisdom has always recognized a link between the way we feel and our health, including physical health. We talk about feeling ‘sick with worry’. Anxiety gives us a ‘knot in the stomach’. It’s difficult to relax when we’re under stress. For a long time, medicine was perhaps a little sceptical about these old saws, but more recently science has been catching up with the idea that the mind can affect the body. It turns out that the brain and the immune system communicate (Sternberg 2001: xi).
David Howe

7. Emotions and Mental Health

Abstract
Emotions play a central role in the way we psychologically experience ourselves and the manner in which we conduct social relationships. They help organize our thoughts and actions. They guide our behaviour and allow us to meet the challenges of everyday life. The ability to understand and regulate our own and other people’s emotional states and the ability to manage relationships well defines much of what it is to be mentally healthy. Individuals with integrated brains in which the complex relationship between thought, feeling and behaviour is recognized and handled well are generally good at managing social interaction. Emotionally intelligent people tend to enjoy good mental health. Those who cannot regulate their emotions become slaves to them (Salovey and Mayer 1990: 201). They mismanage relationships and are more likely to suffer poor mental health.
David Howe

8. Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies

Abstract
Throughout many of the clinical and psychologically based professions, cognitive and behavioural therapies (CBT) are the treatment of choice. This is in part because they have chosen to go down the science route of evidence-based practice, and partly because this route has shown that for many mental health and behavioural problems CBT is effective. The rigour implied in these therapies has also proved attractive to other people-oriented professions that have been keen to show their relevance and effectiveness in areas of human behaviour in which it has been notoriously difficult to bring about change. In particular, probation officers, youth justice workers, and many social workers specialising in the mental health field have shown considerable interest in cognitive and behaviourally based treatment programmes.
David Howe

9. Relationship-Based Interventions and Social Support

Abstract
It has been argued that children learn about their own and other people’s emotions and how to regulate them in the context of relationships — with parents, family, peers. Failures and problems with emotional recognition, understanding, containment and regulation develop when these primary relationships are with people who are insensitive, lack empathy, have no attunement, and cause distress and disturbance. It therefore follows that those who experience problems recognizing, experiencing and regulating their emotions are likely to benefit from forming relationships with people who are emotionally available and responsive, intelligent and psychologically-minded. If poor relationships are where things emotionally go wrong then healthy relationships are where things can be put right.
David Howe

10. The Practitioner Relationship and Emotional Intelligence

Abstract
The psychological self constantly forms and re-forms as we relate with others. From our earliest days as infants to the experience of old age, we recognize and understand ourselves as we engage with parents, family, friends and the community at large. Client, patient and service user views tell us, again and again, that a key ingredient of successful help and effective treatment is the quality of the professional relationship. Practitioners who possess emotional intelligence are most likely to create the most therapeutically positive relationship environments. This final chapter makes the case that emotionally intelligent practitioners are the most socially skilled professionals, likely to relate especially well with service users. Interpersonally skilled and relationship-gifted workers make the most effective and humane practitioners whether the basis of their practice is behavioural, cognitive, task-oriented, psychodynamic or person-centred.
David Howe
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