An acceptance based stance is fundamental when delivering ERIC. Acceptance based approaches are underpinned by an assumption that effective management of emotions occurs through building tolerance of uncomfortable internal experiences, as opposed to working hard to avoid, change, or control them. Put simply, it involves being open to the actual feelings we’re having. ERIC builds skills to help young people to accept difficult feelings and thoughts. Acceptance is also an important quality of the therapeutic relationship when delivering ERIC. This relationship is best described as being characterised by non-judgement. Accepting each young person as they are and valuing their inherent worth and strengths fosters a relationship free from judgement. Not only does this provide a space for a young person to explore their existing emotion regulation strategies, it will encourage the young person to be open to learn new skills. Keep in mind that most young person are doing the best that they can with the emotion regulation habits they have at hand. AND they would also benefit from skill development. Knowing when to validate their efforts and when to push for change is, at times, a delicate balancing act. Finally, ERIC also promotes self-acceptance. So every interaction is seen as an opportunity to model and practice self-acceptance.
In ERIC, a consistent theme is ‘accepting’ uncomfortable thoughts, feelings and behaviours rather than resisting and avoiding them. The language used to talk about emotions is important, keeping in mind that it is the response to emotions that can be unhelpful, not the emotion itself. Using terminology such as ‘unhelpful’ when discussing responses to emotions, instead of ‘harmful or bad’ helps remove the negative judgement from the experience of emotions.
It is important to note that acceptance of difficult circumstances is not the same as giving up or resigning to non-action. In the therapeutic relationship acceptance of a young person is not the same as condoning harmful behavioural choices. Rather, acceptance of how things are ‘right now’ is an important first step in changing. In emotion regulation, taking a pause to accept difficult feelings before planning how to respond, is a vital starting point. Acceptance and change are two interdependent concepts. Ensuring you create balance between both is important to ultimately making lasting change to emotion regulation habits.