Is It Better to Work With Thoughts or Emotions?

Whether you work with thoughts or emotions depends on you. When you want to change your life, you have so many options these days. You can work with counselors, psychologists, or life coaches. You can find self-help books, audios, and classes.

When there are so many options, one way to narrow down your choice is to decide if you want to work with your thoughts or your emotions.

How can you decide which is best for you?

Working with thoughts

Cognitive therapies and techniques are based on this premise: how people think determines how they feel and behave. Thoughts that are causing problems are labeled dysfunctional or irrational.

If you work with a counselor, the counselor will help you understand which thoughts and beliefs are causing you problems and will help you replace those thoughts with something more rational. For example, in rational emotive therapy, you test common irrational beliefs such as “It is absolutely essential to be loved or approved of by every significant person in one’s life.”

In cognitive behavioral therapies, behavioral techniques, such as thought stopping, are added. The client learns to yell “stop” when they realize they are thinking self defeating thoughts. This interrupts the thought process and the client can substitute more positive thoughts.

These methods are used in therapy and in self-help books. They are symptom focused, logical, and based in the present moment.

Working with emotions

In recent years more value has been placed on the rational scientific aspects of therapy, yet the use of creative arts persists. These creative arts speak to the emotions and the soul.

Some examples include: art therapy, writing, poetry, dance, and psychodrama. These are often referred to as expressive therapies. The poetry of emotion process is another example. This process uses imagery, poetic language, metaphors, and story telling. Poetry and metaphors help:

  • make the unconscious conscious
  • recover hidden solutions
  • increase a sense of connectedness.

What is right for you?

There is no right or wrong answer. If you want to work with symptoms, find a solution and implement it you will want to choose a cognitive option.

If you believe that there are deep underlying issues and you want to get to the root of your issue an emotion-based technique might serve your needs better.

Since we live in a time with so many options, you can even decide what is best depending on the issue. And with so many options you can find the one that works for you .

To read more about the poetry of emotion process, click here.
(Image: sjsharktank @ Flickr


{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Doris Crompton June 16, 2013, 2:07 pm

    Thank you for this informative article.
    One more option, when it comes to working with emotions is The Emotion Code. It is a new energy healing modality that uses the intuitive ability of the practitioner and also muscle testing to find out what negative emotions are trapped in the subconscious and then release them. These emotions can be either personal or inherited. Having those trapped emotions released brings an energetic shift in a person’s life and subsequently a transformation in their energy. Many feel as if a weight is lifted off their shoulders.
    We are fortunate to live in a time when many modalities are available. May each one find that which they will resonate with to make their life more peaceful and joyful.
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    • Donna Weber June 17, 2013, 2:57 pm

      Thanks for reminding us that there are so many modalities out there these days. Before I developed the poetry of emotions process, I explored a variety of change modalities, including Gestalt therapy, expressive therapies, mind-body healing, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, the Sedona Method, HeartMath, Reiki, and more. I always like to have a variety of methods on hand so that I can find the right modality for each client – although I am still partial to the poetry of emotion process.

  • C. Rider June 18, 2013, 6:49 pm

    Donna – your work is wonderful! As you know, we’ve done several sessions and the results have been amazing! My results have been so positive that after they’ve “gone” I can’t even remember what the problem was in the first place! This is a process, that in a perfect world, should be included with other modalities automatically. Work on the emotional level then the physical. This process complements perfectly. There are always so many pieces to the puzzle, so many levels ~~ and this one releases so deeply. Every time I experience it I’m amazed and excited about how simple it is. I wish you much success – will there be a book in the future? Thank you for what you do.

    • Donna Weber June 18, 2013, 8:08 pm

      Thank you so much for your comments! I hope there is a book in my future.


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