The terms “Alba”, “Emotional Body” and the “Emotional Effector Patterns”can raise questions. Are they the same thing? How are they different? Any confusion can largely be attributed to the ways in which the Emotional Effector Patterns (EEP) have evolved over the years and the various methods that have been developed to teach them. Following is a brief summary of the history and evolution of the Emotional Effector Patterns which will hopefully provide some clarity regarding their origin and the various methods used to teach them.
The Emotional Effector Patterns (EEP) are the result of a long-term research project developed at the University of Chile in Santiago in the early 1970s by psychologist Susana Bloch and neurophysiologist Guy Santibáñez, and later, theatre director Pedro Orthous. Together they developed a system to train actors to access and modulate the expression and communication of their emotions at will in an objective way with minimal use of personal emotional experience (Zarrilli 97-98). They named this approach the BOS Method after the first initial of their last names (Bloch, Orthous & Santibáñez 1987).
In the initial development of the BOS Method, Bloch and associates utilized “direct observation and… electrophysiological recording during emotional recall and reliving of emotional experiences, in normal, neurotic and hypnotized subjects” (Bloch “Acting (Re)Considered” 221). They concluded that “specific emotional feelings were linked to specific patterns of breathing, facial expression, degree of muscular tension, and postural attitudes” which, they termed “emotional effector patterns”. Using these effector patterns, they identified and analyzed six basic emotions: joy, anger, sadness, fear, eroticism, and tenderness (Bloch “Alba Emoting” 1993). Basic emotion, as defined by Bloch, are “those types of emotional behaviors which are present in the human infant either as innate behaviors or apparent at very early stages of post-natal development” (“Acting (Re)Considered”222). Bloch contends that each of the basic emotions can be voluntarily evoked by activating, with precision, the corresponding effector pattern, which is “composed of: (1) a breathing pattern, characterized by amplitude and frequency modulation; (2) a muscular activation characterized by a set of contracting and/or relaxing groups of muscles, defined in a particular posture; (3) a facial expression or mimicry characterized by the activation of different facial muscle patterns.” (“Acting (Re)Considered”221). Bloch goes on to state that as the effector patterns are voluntary, change in emotional intensity can be achieved with control through a modulation of the somatic elements, (1993) and may retain the expressive components of the emotion with very little subjective involvement (“Acting (Re)Considered” 222). After developing proficiency in the “basic emotion patterns” a person is then able to evoke more complex emotions, such as embarrassment, awe, pride, jealousy, by mixing somatic elements of the six various effector patterns much like primary colours mix to produce new colours (“Acting (Re)Considered” 229). In addition to the effector patterns, Bloch and her associates added what they termed a “step-out procedure”. The step out pattern consists of a pattern of slow, regular, and deep breathing cycles followed by a total relaxation of the facial muscles and a relaxed and centrally aligned posture, and is designed to return the person to a “neutral state” in order to fully release any previous emotional induction (Bloch, 1993).
As a way to teach the EEP Bloch developed a pedagogy she named Alba Emoting™ and in 1993 offered the first training seminar to actors and teachers worldwide. Since that time, interest in the EEP has broadened to include psychotherapeutic, artistic, and ontological applications. As a multi-disciplined technique, the EEP is taught and practiced globally under a variety of names, including Alba Emoting™, the BOS Method, Alba Technique, the Alba Method, and most recently, Emotional Body®. It is important to note that, although all the methods mentioned above may have different ways of teaching the EEP and target different applications, they all utilize the EEP as the central technique for emotion stimulation and regulation.
Emotional Body® (EB) is the method that Emotional Fluency Training for the Actor (EFTA) most closely aligns with to teach the Emotional Effector Patterns (EEP).
The Emotional Body® method
The Emotional Body® was established by Laura Bond in 2018. After completing an intensive teacher-training sabbatical in Chile in 2006 with BOS team member, Susana Bloch, and training with several other American and Chilean EEP instructors, Laura became a master teacher of Alba Emoting. Following 18 years of practice, teaching, research and writing in this area Ms Bond developed new ways to teach the EEP and called this approach The Emotional Body®. She engaged in a lengthy research and investigation period on recent emotion theories and somatic education methods to help enhance the instruction of the EEP and increase its potential for deeper embodiment, a clearer understanding of the method’s potential for emotion regulation, and its ability to reach diverse groups. After collaborating and co-teaching with Feldenkrais® method practitioners since 2007 and achieving a master training certification in Estill Voice® to enhance vocal components more fully, Bond also developed detailed restorative practices and a new system of categorizing the EEP. This new categorization of Emotional Body uses numbers and letters, thereby eliminating the use of emotion words which avoids subjective interpretation and assists learners in developing affect labeling and regulation abilities (Bond v–viii).
Emotional Body® instructors have extensive training and practice in how to teach the emotional effector patterns. They have also developed workshops and courses that use different styles of teaching the EEP to match the needs and abilities of the learner. Emotional Body courses share a foundational somatic education teaching philosophy and pedagogical understandings. Emotional Body courses have a distinct instructional style that includes: (1) a unique language of emotional effector pattern labeling that encourages individual identification and labeling of affect and somatic sensing discoveries, (2) low intensity lessons when introducing the emotion patterns to help practitioners refine somatic sensing abilities and physical emotion regulation, (3) and extensive restorative practice lessons to reinforce healthy rebalancing and promote positive wellbeing. The courses also use our signature text, The Emotional Body written by Laura Bond, which includes lessons on recent emotion research, emotional literacy, and physical and vocal expression development. Emotional Body instructors have a clear understanding of the distinctions between, and philosophies behind, the various teaching methods used in their courses, and they clearly identify them in their practice.
Emotional Fluency Training for Actors (EFTA) builds on Bond’s innovations and advancements in the field of emotion regulation to specifically and exclusively target theatre practitioners and issues associated in the acting process. In order to acknowledge this distinction and avoid confusion EFTA refers to its central technique simply as the Emotional Effector Patterns.
Emotional Fluency Training for the Actor (EFTA)
The EFTA has developed over years of experience teaching Alba Emoting™ and the Emotional Body® method, which uses the Emotional Effector Patterns (EEP) as a somatic approach to the stimulation and regulation of emotion. Further research specifically targeting the use of the EEP in the acting process was conducted through rigorous study of the current literature in emotion science and in a SSHRC funded research project titled Utilizing BOS Emotional Effector Patterns as a Mechanism for Emotion Control in Contemporary Acting. The research team consisted of the Principal Investigator Tom Stroud, Co-investigators Ines Buchli and Gayle Murphy, with collaborative contributions from Laura Bond and Sarah Petty. The project ran from 2018 to 2020, and worked with professional actors from Vancouver, British Columbia, and Toronto, Ontario, to integrate the EEP into the acting process.
The results clearly supported the hypothesis that integrating the elements of the EEP’s somatic approach to the stimulation and regulation of emotion into existing acting techniques, combined with a comprehensive understanding of emotion, and restorative practice, could provide the actor with a safe and balanced approach to the creation of character that considers the actors’ agency, individual sensitivities, the demands of the specific production, and the stylistic diversities within the contemporary performance environment.
Upon completion of the project Stroud, Buchli and Murphy continued to refine their methodology conducting in-person and on-line workshops with actors, teachers, directors, and coaches from Canada, the United States, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. These workshops are now referred to as Emotional Fluency Training for Actors and feature: a controlled approach to entering and exiting emotional states; somatic and semantic lexicons used to sense, identify, regulate, and articulate emotion; clear boundaries between self and character; a comprehensive understanding of basic emotional embodiment; emotion regulation strategies to take on and to release performances; and restorative, rebalancing, and resiliency practices.
Bloch, Susana. "Effector Patterns of Basic Emotions: A Psychophysiological Method for Training Actors."
Zarrilli, Phillip B., ed. Acting (Re)Considered: A Theoretical and Practical Guide.
2nd ed. London: Routledge, (2002): pp. 219-240.
Bloch, Susana. “Alba Emoting: A Psychophysiological Technique to Help Actors Create and
Control Real Emotions.” Theatre Topics 3.2 (1993): 121-38. Print.
Bloch, Susana, and Guy Santibáñez-H. "A Qualitative Analysis of Emotional Effector Patterns and
their Feedback." The Pavlovian Journal of Biological Science 21.3 (1986): pp. 108-16.
Bloch, Susana, Pedro Orthous and Guy Santibáñez-H. "Effector Patterns of Basic Emotions: A
Psychophysiological Method for Training Actors." Journal of Social and Biological
Structures 10.1 (1987): 1-19. Print.
Bond, Laura, “The Emotional Body: A Method for Physical Self-Regulation.” Pure Expressions,
(2017): pp. v-viii. Print.
Zarrilli, Phillip B., ed. “Acting (Re)Considered: A Theoretical and Practical Guide”. 2nd ed.
London: Routledge, (2002): pp. 220-224
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