ALVS (Emotion focused therapy)

ALVS (attend, label, validate, soothe) is derived from the field of emotion focused therapy that encourages the processing of emotions and emotional coaching skills.  The first four steps are as follows:

Attend – to feelings in the here and now (including physical sensations, thoughts, actions).  Look and listen for signs of negative emotions and show that you have attended to this.

e.g. “I’m noticing that you look tense and wound up.  You also looked very tearful earlier.”

Labelling – Take a guess and put the emotional state into words (you don’t have to be right).  Encourage Edi to talk, or at least, to try and talk about their emotions.  They may find this difficult.

e.g. “You seem sad/angry/confused.  Would it be helpful to talk about this?”

Validate – Make sense of the experience with empathy.  The goal is to encourage Edi to talk about how they are feeling rather than brush those feelings under the carpet.   Try to put yourself in their shoes in terms of feelings.  The stem ‘because’ can be helpful in showing validation.  

e.g. “It’s not surprising you feel anxious/frightened/confused because…. 

Soothe – Address the need signalled by the emotion (e.g. sadness/solace, perhaps with a hug).  Even if the emotion is not acknowledged, suggest that strong feelings of any sort can feel overwhelming and difficult to manage.  Affirm with positive feedback any attempts to express their emotions.

e.g. “It must be frustrating for you to talk about this.  We’re so proud of how hard you’re working with these challenges.  Well done for agreeing to discuss this with us.”

Remember if emotions become overwhelming, take some time out.  React with compassion and calmness.  E.g.  I’m tired now and you seem upset.  Let’s take some time out and come back to this later on.