Label the Patient’s Affect
Patients can have difficulties expressing their emotions, particularly when those emotions are intense or they struggle with more chronic disorders of alexithymia. The clinician can help the patient manage emotions by turning those emotions into words. Affect labeling offers a way to accomplish this goal quickly within the clinical encounter. This technique is a useful adjunct to the more common use of empathy statements for validating patients’ feelings. Affect labeling aids in emotional regulation, and the neuroscience underlying its utility is discussed.