Learning Emotional Logic to prevent illness and stress

A secondary school in Plymouth introduced Emotional Logic language skills in a whole school community approach, starting with teachers and rolling out to pupils and parents. Over the two years since starting, they report a 41% reduction in recorded incidents of bad behaviour. The VP responsible for pastoral care attributes this directly to the relational improvement that Emotional Logic language and concepts bring about, when people of all ages and backgrounds face disappointment, conflict or hurt.

Now sixty-seven primary schools in Plymouth are getting their staff trained through the Plymouth Learning Partnership to support each other using Emotional Logic to reduce stress. They also can teach the ‘Six Lesson Plan’ programme to children in Years 5 and 6 in preparation for transition to secondary schools. Parent evenings, and peer support training follows, so that everyone in ‘the whole school community’ system understands the useful purposes of unpleasant loss emotions more constructively. People are empowered even by two-hour workshops to turn conversations from conflict, into opportunities to explore solutions together.

Babcock LDP specialist teachers in Devon and Worcestershire are now trained in Emotional Logic to help adjustments for children with special educational needs along with their parents and teachers. The children then remain in mainstream education with plans that address identified personal values for all concerned. That makes the placements more sustainable and resilient.

The Babcock management team saw the value of Emotional Logic to improve adaptability. They asked for training themselves, so they could handle the workload pressures and stress that comes with the rapidly changing demands in the educational sector. Half day or day workshops have transformed the ethos of the workplace, improved work-life balance. The training has been scored the best use of training time the managers have ever had.

Emotional Logic was developed by a medical doctor in the late 1990’s as an alternative to counselling, therapies and medication for common mental illnesses and relationship problems. However, it has been found since also to promote health through personal development. The lifelong learning method teaches a unique and innovative view of the importance of emotions to communicate personal values. Emotional Logic claims, perhaps outrageously, that there are no negative emotions, only unpleasant ones that have useful purposes that empower adaptability, when they are understood as important parts of one integrated adjustment process.

The Emotional Logic conversational method is ‘trauma-responsive’. It is based in the modern neuroscience of emotion and learning theory, using Vygotsky’s discovery learning methods to explore new solutions in diverse situations. People of all ages can learn to use card sorting methods and worksheets to map their inner emotional worlds, and then navigate their own ways to release emotional energy for adaptability. Age-appropriate materials have been developed by former Head Teachers for Reception (The Talking Together Tree), Years 2-4 (Doctor in the House), transition Years 5-7 (Finding Your Power and Using It), and on to later transition to FE college and university (the adult Activity Pack).

Emotional Logic goes beyond mindfulness, behavioural regulation and developmental needs fulfillment. It empowers people, young and old, to safely explore unpredictability, by building responsive relationships along the way that provide more than resilience to setbacks. Resilience is ‘bounce back’. Emotional Logic trains for adaptability, which is ‘bounce forward’ to come through situations stronger. The added value financially justifies staff training, because the new language skill is introduced into a whole school community to prevent mental illnesses using teachers’ existing professional skills. If a child is under-performing, then a school staff Emotional Logic Facilitator (an ELF) first gives an ‘EL lesson’ about the useful purposes of unpleasant emotions to the whole class. Then the child has a private learning session, ideally with a parent and teacher. Thus when the child returns to the class, everyone is interpreting emotions in the same constructive way, normalizing and empowering all concerned without referral to CAMHS or behavioural support.

Three CAMHS services (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) have said they believe Emotional Logic is ideal to empower teachers to manage emotions before they have built up into destructive mental habits, or withdrawn behaviour, thus reducing referrals and exclusions. A common problem overcome by EL is, for example, self-harming. The teacher has to label this a mental illness and refer to CAMHS, knowing that CAMHS is overloaded and will return the child without intervention. The teacher is now disempowered, because the child has been labelled with a mental illness. However, the root cause of self-harming behaviour is unrecognized grieving. Teachers who learn Emotional Logic are empowered within their own professional area of expertise to make a difference for that child. We have several recorded instances of young people being able to stop self-harming after just two or three Emotional Logic learning sessions, thus coming through stronger.

An award-winning ‘Trauma-Informed Schools’ Multi-Academy Trust in Devon, for children excluded from mainstream education, is adding Emotional Logic particularly for staff and parent support to their already excellent programme. Given the current staffing crisis among teachers, improved mutual support might enable teachers to re-discovering the joy of teaching, building morale in shared times of stress, rather than feelings of isolation. Emotional Logic helps people to feel heard. Then emotions can fulfil their inbuilt useful purposes, to connect people around their personal values during times of change.

Trevor Griffiths
Founder of the Emotional Logic Centre