Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy

, Volume 49, Issue 4, pp 245–254 | Cite as

Psychological Correlates of Change in Emotion Regulation Over 8 Months of Psychotherapy

  • Sasha RudenstineEmail author
  • Adriana Espinosa
  • Leo Cancelmo
  • Priya Puliyampet
Original Paper


Emotion regulation corresponds to the individual’s ability to identify and modulate emotional experiences and improvements thereof over the course of psychotherapy are associated with the reduction in psychiatric symptoms across multiple diagnoses. However, the extent to which changes in the capacity for emotion regulation over the course of therapy relate to individual differences in emotion-related self-perceptions, degree of psychiatric distress, and the reasons for seeking psychotherapy remain understudied. This study explored the relations between changes in the capacity for emotion regulation over 8 months of psychotherapy, as defined by all subscales of the Difficulties for Emotion Regulation Scale, trait emotional intelligence and psychological distress. In addition, this study examined whether changes in the capacity for emotion regulation differed between patients reporting at least one regulation treatment goal and those reporting other goals. Data were collected as part of an ongoing program evaluation at an urban community-based mental health clinic. Self-report questionnaires were completed by 74 patients prior to beginning psychotherapy and after completing 8 months of psychotherapy. We found that higher trait emotional intelligence and lower psychological distress were related to improvements in emotion regulation. Moreover, the capacity for emotion regulation, particularly emotional awareness and limited access to emotion regulation strategies, worsened among individuals who reported at least one regulation treatment goal relative to those who reported other goals. As such, an initial phase of psychotherapy that focuses on integrating skills and self-awareness of emotional sensations prior to or in conjunction with embarking on an open-ended exploratory treatment is recommended.


Treatment goals Emotion regulation Trait emotional intelligence Psychotherapy Psychiatric distress 



We would like to thank all members of the INTERSECT Lab whose contributions are invaluable to the success of the Psychotherapy Evaluation and Clinical Effectiveness (PEACE) Program.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sasha Rudenstine
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Adriana Espinosa
    • 1
  • Leo Cancelmo
    • 2
  • Priya Puliyampet
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe City College of New York, CUNYNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.The Graduate Center, City University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

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