Brain and heart on a balance scale

Emotional Intelligence: A New Relevant Kind Of IQ

The concept of intelligence has developed a mystique in recent times because of our obsession with the link between formal education and social status. Many people link IQ with human value in an almost obsessional way. Actually, the IQ test is a survey of human activities and assesses a range of skills in almost the same way attitude scales measure attitudes.

First, there was general intelligence: the IQ test took a sample of general life tasks including mathematical, abstract, practical, learning, and social skills test items. The test was to compare people on how well they do in the skills needed to navigate the world in general. The first practical IQ test (the Simon-Binet Test) was written in 1904. It was designed to measure the ability of children to learn in school by sampling a range of activities relevant to school.

In the 1990s, psychologists were becoming concerned that the standard IQ test told little about what it takes to be successful in life. So, partly as a reaction against the popular obsession with IQ, and partly for practical reasons, the idea of social intelligence was described in 1990 by two psychologists, Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer. They found a sample of skill items which could provide an index to:

  • The ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions.
  • The ability to discriminate feelings from one another.
  • The ability to make use of feeling information to guide thinking and action.

In a book that followed, The Humm Handbook, psychology-trained author, Daniel Goleman argued that it was not IQ or cognitive intelligence that produced business success but emotional intelligence (EQ). He said high EQ people were those who:

  • Were good at understanding their own emotions.
  • Were good at managing their emotions.
  • Were empathetic and were good at understanding the drives and emotions of others.
  • Were good at handling other people’s emotions.

An important difference between IQ and EQ was that IQ was considered by many to be absolute and unchangeable. Although many began to question that over the years, the widespread notion was that IQ was hereditary and innate in the brain structure. EQ, on the other hand, was viewed as a set of skills which could be taught.

The understanding that emotional intelligence could be altered and taught gave rise to new therapies which combined notions of traditional psychotherapy to treat problems and social training to improve social skills and improve social intelligence. This notion of the openness of social intelligence changed a lot in the way many view counseling, clinical psychology, and social work. Developing social intelligence, especially in the way one understands and manages his or her own emotions has a lot to do with the treatment of many psycho-social issues.

It may not be possible,” says Dr. Norman Rosenthal, “for everyone to have a psychotherapist. But you can become your own therapist…It all starts with learning to listen to your feelings. While it may not always be easy, developing the ability to tune in to your own emotions is the first and perhaps most important step.”

Mental health and emotional intelligence are bound together. Certain mental health conditions are bound up in the concept of emotional intelligence. The autism spectrum disorders are associated with low levels of emotional intelligence. This disorder may represent a particularly rigid and unchangeable emotional intelligence pathology. Addictions are known to lower emotional intelligence. High levels of emotional intelligence decrease the likelihood of depression, anxiety, reduce aggressive tendencies, and speed recovery from traumatic or stressful events.

The key to many therapies and for the development of an emotionally stable life have to do with the kind of insights and skills embodied in the concept of emotional intelligence.

Accelerated Resolution Therapy is a form of psychotherapy with roots in existing evidence-based therapies but shown to achieve benefits much more rapidly (usually within 1-5 sessions). Clients with depression, anxiety, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, sexual abuse and many other mental and physical conditions can experience remarkable benefits starting in the first session. Please contact us to learn more.


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