Distinguishing four types of feeling

It is important for any therapist to distinguish four types of feeling and to recognize which type of feeling is displayed by a client. The different types of feeling require very different responses from the facilitator. If you do not distinguish or recognize these types of feelings, then your interventions might increase the difficulties of the client instead of alleviating them. The four types of feelings are:

  1.   primary feelings
  2.   secondary feelings
  3.   taken over feelings
  4.   meta feelings

Primary feelings are feelings that come up as a direct and appropriate response to the actual situation at hand. Depending on the situation the feeling might be anger, compassion, disappointment, fear, indignation, sadness, despair, grief, etc.

Secondary feelings are feelings that come up through remembering or reliving a situation in the past. Often secondary feelings come back again and again. Many of the possible primary feelings can also appear as secondary feelings.

Taken over feelings are feelings that we have unconsciously been taken over from an earlier family member. If you do not recognize this type of feelings, then you might end up in a situation where whatever you try, it does not seem to help the client.

Meta feelings are actually not really feelings. Examples of meta feelings are: hope, courage, strength, endurance, love, integrity, acceptance, humility, satisfaction, gratitude and fulfillment.

You will learn how to recognize these types of feelings and how to respond to them.

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Types of Feeling