What is emotional processing?


“a process whereby emotional disturbances are absorbed, and decline to the extent that other experiences and behaviour can proceed without disruption.” Rachman (1980)


 “emotional processing is defined as the modification of memory structures that underlie emotions … new information, which is at once cognitive and affective, has to be integrated into the evoked information structure for an emotional change to take place.” Foa & Kozak (1986)

 “a process that … constitutes the essence of recovery or emotional processing.” Foa, Huppert & Cahill (2006)


“It is clear from the analyses of this one type of stressor (a trauma) that ‘emotional processing’ refers to many different processes and mechanisms used by individuals in ‘coming to terms’ with the disturbance.  ‘Emotional Processing’ can be thought of as an umbrella term referring to multiple mechanisms and processes which allow the person to move from emotional disturbance to resolution”. Baker, Thomas, Thomas, Santonastaso & Corrigan (2015)

How to measure emotional processing

In conducting a research project into emotional processing and panic, our research team had major problems in finding an adequate measure of emotional processing.  Measures of emotional control, emotional regulation, emotional intelligence, frequency and intensity of emotions and alexithymia were all relevant but each only measured one aspect of processing.  We thought that if a simple self administered measure of emotional processing could be devised, it could be useful to studies looking at different types of psychotherapy.  It could also be used in experimental studies trying to understand emotional change and for basic research in emotions.  It might also be helpful for psychological therapists and counsellors seeking to formulate clients’ problems in terms of psychological coping mechanisms rather than diagnostic categories.  From 2000 to 2012 we sought to develop such a simple but psychometrically sound measure of emotional processing called the ’emotional processing scale’.


The Emotional Processing Scale is obtainable from the psychological test publishing company Hogrefe, Oxford. http://www.hogrefe.co.uk/eps.html

A webinar on Emotional Processing Scale October 2016

For more information click on the subheadings.

“When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind: it may be the beginning of knowledge but you have scarcely in your thoughts advanced to the stage of science, whatever the matter may be”

                                                                                      Lord Kelvin 1889

There are three main references to the development of the scale;

Baker, R., Thomas, S., Thomas, P.W., Owens, M. (2007) Development of an Emotional Processing Scale. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 62: 167-178

Baker R, Thomas S, Thomas P, Gower R, Santonastaso M, Whittlesea A. (2009)The Emotional Processing Scale: Scale refinement and abridgement (EPS-25), Journal of Psychosomatic Research  68, 1, 83-88

Baker R, Owens M, Thomas S, Whittlesea A, Abbey G, Gower P, Tosunlar L, Corrigan E, Thomas PW (2012) ‘Does CBT facilitate emotional processing? Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 40(1):19-37

The EPS was published by psychometric test publishers, Hogrefe, in three parts – the scoring booklets, an administrators manual and a norms booklet. The whole package is;

Baker, R., Thomas, P., Thomas, S., Santonastaso, M., & Corrigan, E. (2015). Emotional Processing Scale. Oxford, UK: Hogrefe.

and the separate components are;

Baker, R., Thomas, P., Thomas, S., Santonastaso, M., & Corrigan, E. (2015). Emotional Processing Scale Manual. Oxford, UK: Hogrefe.

Baker, R., Thomas, P., Thomas, S., Santonastaso, M., & Corrigan, E. (2015). Emotional Processing Scale Norms Booklet – Version 1. Oxford, UK: Hogrefe.