According to Paul Gilbert, PhD, we have three types of emotion regulation systems – we’ve got the Threat System, the Drive System, and the Soothing System.
Now when a client is stuck in a painful cycle of self-criticism and shame, it’s often because these three systems are out of balance.
You see, many clients spend the majority of their time caught in the threat and drive systems – and this can lead to distress.
So how can we help our clients get a better sense of where they might be out of balance, and begin to notice whether their soothing system might be underdeveloped?
We thought it would be helpful for you to have this infographic to use with your clients. (Feel free to make a copy of this to share).
Click the image to enlarge
According to Paul Gilbert’s model, people often switch between three different systems to manage their emotions.
Function: Achieve Goals, Consume, Accomplish Tasks
Function: Slow down, Soothe, Rest and Digest, Safeness, Kindness, Care
Function: Manage Threats, Protection, Survive, Seek Safety
Although we may not realize it, many of us spend the majority of our time in threat and drive, which can lead to imbalanced emotions and distress. It can be important to notice if your soothing system is underdeveloped.
In order to help you get a sense of where you might be out of balance, your practitioner may ask you to imagine how big each of your circles is.
Adapted from Gilbert, P. (2009). He Compassionate Mind: A New Approach To Life’s Challenges. London: Constable and Robinson.
Sharing Dr. Gilbert’s three circles model could be a good way to help clients become more aware of when they are in a state of threat. Not only that, it can help them learn how to shift out of the threat system and into safeness and connection.
(Please be sure to include the NICABM logo as well as the credit to Paul Gilbert. We put a lot of work into creating these resources for you. Thanks!)
To hear more from Dr. Gilbert, please join us for the master series on The Clinical Application of Compassion – here’s the link where you can sign up.
Now we’d like to hear from you. How will you use this in your work with clients? Please leave a comment below.