Review of The Language of Emotions: What Your Feelings Are Trying to Tell You, © 2010, by Karla McLaren

“Emotions—especially the dark and dishonored ones—hold a tremendous amount of energy,” writes Karla McLaren. Her experience as an empathetic counselor has supported her in developing a philosophy around how emotions have a language that can support us. In her book, she guides the reader through naming an emotion that is experienced and then finding the BRILLIANCE it holds. By brilliance, she is referring to uncovering the meaning and message of the emotion. The idea is that through this process we learn from our emotions and are better able to navigate life’s twists and turns.

I found the second half of her book very useful for ontological coaching. She explores in depth the language of more than 17 emotions. Each chapter explores the emotion’s gifts, internal questions, signs of obstruction, and offers a practice to help with the process.

In my experience, the most useful part of the book for ontological coaches is the possible questions that support finding the message of each emotion.  As ontological coaches, we know that the body, emotions, and language are connected and that we can use any of these as an entry point of discovery with ourselves or with our clients. I believe as coaches we can utilize McLaren’s process to our clients in allowing an emotion to be felt and explored for its value. It came for a reason… and with a message. The observer your client becomes may then see new possibilities for actions to reach their desired goals.


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