Objective: Beliefs about the unacceptability of experiencing or expressing negative emotions have been noted in individuals with a range of problems, including chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), irritable bowel syndrome, somatization disorder, depression, eating disorders, social phobia, posttraumatic stress disorder, and borderline personality disorder. These beliefs are likely to have implications for emotion regulation and processing, and are addressed explicitly or implicitly within many therapies including cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). This article describes the development, validation, and internal reliability of the Beliefs about Emotions Scale (BES), a self-report questionnaire to assess such beliefs.
Methods: The new scale was completed by people with CFS (n=121) and healthy controls (n=73). Twenty-two individuals with CFS completed the scale before and after CBT.
Results: People with CFS had significantly higher scores on this new questionnaire than healthy controls. Principal components analysis identified one factor, and the scale had high internal consistency (0.91). Scores on the BES were most highly correlated with a measure of negative perfectionism (r=0.59) and also showed significant correlations with measures of dysfunctional attitudes, self-sacrifice, depression, anxiety, and fatigue. When completed before and after CBT for CFS, the questionnaire was sufficiently sensitive to detect a significant reduction in endorsement of unhelpful beliefs about emotions.
Conclusion: The new Beliefs about Emotions Scale showed good internal reliability, validity and sensitivity to change.
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