Grey Matters July 26, 2022

Grey Matters: Emotional Regulation

Notes from the Support Approach Team



Grey Matters: Emotional Regulation

Emotional Regulation Topics for Individuals with Intellectual or Developmental Disability

Individuals with IDD and other mental health disorders can have increased difficulties with emotional regulation due to differences in development and social skills. Often times, these individuals will also have increased anxiety, which can make it difficult to manage emotions when they come up.

What is emotional regulation?

It is the way that we monitor our emotional responses to our environment. Improving on emotional regulation, for all individuals, can help improve on coping skills, problem solving, mood, and overall functioning.

Are emotions good or bad?

Emotions are sometimes described as “good” or “bad;” however, all emotions are important depending on the context of the situation, and our emotions have developed throughout each generation to protect us. For example, “fear” can help us to keep us safe from a threat, or “sadness” can help us process our experiences and maintain in a safe environment during vulnerable situations.

How can I improve in the way I experience emotions?

To help improve how we experience emotions, we can practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is a type of meditation, and is described as the practice of being present in the moment and allowing time to reflect before action. Allowing thoughts to pass in a nonjudgmental way can help not only improve on emotional regulation, but also has many other positive benefits such as reducing stress, increased immune functioning, and greater ability to focus.

Link to Practice Mindfulness 3-Minute Body Scan:

Written by Jessica Bist, M.Sc., Support Approach Consultant


  • Hershfield, H. E., Scheibe, S., Sims, T. L., & Carstensen, L. L. (2013). When Feeling Bad Can Be Good: Mixed Emotions Benefit Physical Health Across Adulthood. Social psychological and personality science4(1), 54–61.
  • Littlewood, M., Dagnan, D., & Rodgers, J. (2018). Exploring the emotion regulation strategies used by adults with intellectual disabilities. International journal of developmental disabilities64(3), 204–211.
  • Noel J. (2018). Recognition and treatment of mood dysregulation in adults with intellectual disability. The mental health clinician8(6), 264–274.