What Are Some Examples of Emotion-Focused Coping?

Techniques for emotion-focused coping include keeping one’s mind off of a stressful or upsetting issue by staying busy, making use of social support networks, reevaluating the stressor and distancing oneself from the stressful or upsetting situation. Emotion-focused coping is a specific technique that was developed in the 1980s by the psychologists Susan Folkman and Richard Lazarus, and these techniques focus on changing one’s emotional reaction to a stressful or upsetting situation, such as receiving a diagnosis for a terminal illness. As the name indicates, emotion-focused coping focuses on emotions rather than one’s beliefs or actions as a means of making an unpleasant situation more tolerable.

Because reaching out to others is considered to be an emotion-focused coping strategy, it can be said that a person who receives upsetting news and calls a friend to vent or talk about it is engaging in an emotion-focused coping behavior. Another technique could involve trying to find the silver lining in a situation, such as a person focusing on the bad parts of a relationship when they find their romantic partner wants to break up with them. Other emotion-based coping techniques, as developed by Folkman and Lazarus, include accepting responsibility for the actions that led to the upsetting situation.