Emotion efficacy is defined as how effectively a person can experience and respond to a full range of emotions in a contextually adaptive, values-consistent manner. As such, emotion efficacy encompasses both the beliefs people have about their ability to navigate their emotional life as well as their ability to do so.
The more people can effectively experience difficult emotions, regulate their emotions through coping, and express their values, the higher their emotion efficacy. Low emotion efficacy is likely to be the result of key vulnerabilities or patterns of maladaptive behavioral responses—behaviors enacted in response to emotional pain, or the desire to avoid pain, which fuel and maintain psychopathological processes.
Some common vulnerabilities and patterns may take the form of one of more of the following:
• Biological predisposition or sensitivity that leads to high levels of reactivity
• Significant levels of emotion avoidance (sometimes also called experiential avoidance)—efforts to avoid experiencing uncomfortable sensations, emotions, and cognitions triggered by internal or external cues
• Significant levels of distress intolerance—the perception or the belief that one cannot tolerate aversive emotions
• Significant lack of emotion-shifting skills to down regulate emotions
• Consistent and significant socially invalidating environments