The EXP Scale
The Experiencing Scale: A Research and Training Manual Volume
by M. H. Klein, P. L. Mathieu, E. T. Gendlin and D. J. Kiesler (1969)
Wisconsin Psychiatric Institute
Stage One |
Stage Two |
Stage Three |
Stage Four |
Stage Five |
Stage Six |
The chief characteristic of this stage is that the content or manner of
expression is impersonal. In some cases the content is intrinsically impersonal,
being a very abstract, general, superficial, or journalistic account of events
or ideas with no personal referent established. In other cases, despite the
personal nature of the content, the speaker's involvement is impersonal, so that
he reveals nothing important about himself and his remarks could as well be
about a stranger or an object.
The content is not about the speaker. The speaker tells a story,
describes other people or events in which he is not involved, or presents a
generalized or detached account of ideas. Nothing makes the content personal.
The content is such that the speaker is identified with it in some way but
the association is not made clear. The speaker refers in passing to himself
but his references do not establish his involvement. First person pronouns only
define the speaker as an object, spectator, or incidental participant. Attention
is focused exclusively on external events. For example, "As I was walking
down the street I saw this happen . . ."; "t read a book that said. .
."; "I put the lid on the box"; "He stepped on my toe."
The speaker does not supply his attitudes, feelings or reactions. He treats
himself as an object or instrument or in so remote a way that the story could be
about someone else. His manner of expression is remote, matter-of-fact, or
offhand, as in superficial social chit-chat, or has a mechanical or rehearsed
The content is a terse, unexplained refusal to participate in an
interaction, or an avoidance or minimizing of an interaction. Minimal responses
without spontaneous comments are at stage one.
The association between the speaker and the content is explicit. Either the
speaker is the central character in the narrative or his interest is clear. The
speaker's involvement, however, does not go beyond the specific situation or
content. All comments, associations, reactions, and remarks serve to get the
story or idea across but do not refer to or define the speaker's feelings.
The content is a narrative of events in which the speaker is personally
involved. His remarks establish the importance of the content but make no
reference to the quality of this involvement. Remarks and associations refer
to external facets of the narrative, other people, the events, objects, the
speaker's actions; they do not give his inner reactions or perspective. If the
narrative includes the speaker's thoughts, opinion j, wishes, or attitudes,
these only describe him intellectually or superficially. Some speakers refer
to ideas and thoughts as if they were feelings; e.g., ") feel that 1 am a
good farmer"; "I feel that people should be more considerate."
If terms tike "I think" or "I wish" could be substituted
for "I feel" without changing the meaning, the remark is at stage
The events narrated are impersonal but the speaker explicitly establishes
that the content is important to him. For example, he expresses interest in
or evaluates an event, but does not show the quality or amount of his interest
The content is a self-description that is superficial, abstract,
generalized, or intellectualized. No reference is made to the speaker's
feelings or internal perspective. The segment presents the ideas, attitudes,
opinions, moral judgments, wishes, preferences, aspirations, or capacities that
describe the speaker from an external or peripheral perspective. One sees him
from the outside.
The content reveals the speaker's feelings and reactions implicitly but not
explicitly. If the speaker is emotionally aroused, it is evident from his
manner, not from his words. If the content is the sort that ordinarily would be
personally significant, the speaker does not say so. If the speaker mentions his
feelings, he treats them abstractly, impersonally, as objects, or attributes
them to others. Third person pronouns, especially "one feels" indicate
The content is an account of a dream, fantasy, hallucination, or free
association. These should be treated as narratives of external events. They
are at stage two if the speaker's remarks associate him with the account but do
not give his feeling reactions to it.
The content is a narrative or a description of the speaker in external or
behavioral terms with added comments on his feelings or private experiences.
These remarks are limited to the events or situation described, giving the
narrative a personal touch without describing the speaker more generally.
Self-descriptions restricted to a specific situation or role are also at stage
The content is a narrative of events or description of an aspect of the
speaker's environment (past, present, or future) with parenthetical personal
remarks that give one of the following:
1) The speaker's feelings at the time of the event or in retrospect about it.
For example, "He didn't call me back and I was angry" or "He
didn't call me back; thinking about it now makes me angry."
2) The personal significance or implications of the situation by relating it
to the speaker's private experience. For example, "it reminded me of being
scolded as a child"; "It was one of those queer moods that comes on me
when 1 get tired."
3) The speaker's state of awareness at the time of the event. Such remarks
include details of motives, consciousness, private perceptions, or assumptions
which are limited to the event. For example, "I knew at the time that I was
reacting too strongly"; "I was aware of wanting to defend
myself"; "I did it even though I sensed how foolish I was."
Accounts of dreams, hallucinations, fantasies, and free associations should be
treated as narratives; they are at stage three if feelings are mentioned.
The content is a self-description of circumscribed aspects of the speaker's
life style or role or of his feelings and reactions presented only in behavioral
terms. The speaker might, for example, describe how he functions as a parent
or in his job, or tell what he does when he gets angry. Personal remarks enrich
the description of the situation or reaction to it, but are limited to the
In response to a direct question, the speaker tells what his feelings are or
were. The interviewer's words are not needed to identify the feeling.
The content is a clear presentation of the speaker's feelings, giving his
personal, internal perspective or feelings about himself. Feelings or the
experience of events, rather than the events themselves, are the subject of the
discourse. By attending to and presenting this experiencing, the speaker
communicates what it is like to be him. These interior views are presented,
listed, or described, but are not interrelated or used as the basis for
systematic self-examination or formulation.
The initial content is a specific situation that is widened and deepened by
the speaker's self-references to show what he is like more generally or more
personally. The speaker must describe his feelings in great detail, refer
to feelings as they occur in a range of situations, provide personal reactions
to specific feelings, or relate reactions to his own self-image. The feelings
can be immediate responses or remembered responses to past situations.
Selfdescriptive comments must deal with internal and personal aspects of the
speaker, not with moral evaluations or external or behavioral characteristics.
The content is a story told completely from a personal point of view. The
details of feelings, reactions, and assumptions are integral to the narrative,
so that what emerges is a detailed picture of the speaker's personal experience
of the events.
The content is a self-characterization in which the speaker tells about
his personal perspective. In talking about himself he makes explicit his
feelings, personality, assumptions, motives, goals, and private perceptions. By
revealing these internal parts of himself, the speaker gives a detailed picture
of one or more of his states of being. The material presented is not analyzed or
interrelated. The use of abstract terms or jargon to describe elements of
personality must be expanded with some internal detail to warrant a rating of
four. For example, the statement "My ego was shattered" would need
elaboration, such as "I felt as if I was nothing, that no one would ever
The content is a purposeful exploration of the speaker's feelings and
experiencing. There are two necessary components. First, the speaker must pose
or define a problem or proposition about himself explicitly in terms of
feelings. The problem or proposition may involve the origin, sequence, or
implications of feelings or relate feelings to other private processes. Second,
he must explore or work with the problem in a personal way. The exploration or
elaboration must be clearly related to the initial proposition and must contain
inner references so that it functions to expand the speaker's awareness of '-is
experiencing. Both components, the problem and the elaboration, must be
The proposition or problem must be given clearly or strongly and should
include references to feelings or to the personal experience at issue. If the
internal basis of the problem is weak, as in references to undesired behaviors
or styles, propositions about the external precipitants of behavior or feelings,
or presentation of the temporal sequence of feelings, then the exploration or
elaboration must have extensive inward references. It must be clear that the
speaker is focusing on his inner experience rather than simply justifying his
The problem or hypothesis about the self must be oriented to feelings,
private reactions, or assumptions basic to the self-image. It can be
presented in different ways:
1) A feeling, reaction, or inner process, and in some cases a behavior
pattern, can be defined as problematic itself or as seeming to conflict with
other feelings or aspects of the self; for example, "My anger is the
problem" or "Why am I so angry?"
2) The speaker may wonder whether or to what extent he has a specific
feeling; not "What do I feel?" which would be three or four, but
"Do I really feel angry?" or "How angry am I, really? "
3) The problem or proposition can be defined in terms of the personal
implications, relationships, and inner ramifications of a feeling, including its
origins or causes, its place in a temporal sequence of feelings and inner
events, its mode of expression, or its personal and private implications. For
example: "Do I get angry when I feel inadequate?" or "My getting
angry means I've lost control of myself" or "I get angry just the way
my mother used to."
4) Feelings, reactions, and internal processes may be compared.
All problems or propositions about the self must be explored or elaborated
with inner referents. Examples or illustrations may show how the speaker
experiences the problem or proposition in different settings or at different
times; if so, the pertinence of the illustration to the problem must be
explicit. The problem or proposition may be related to other internal processes
or reactions. Alternatively, through hypothesis, speculation, or analogy the
speaker clarifies the nature or private implication of the central problem, its
cause-, or ramifications.
At stage 5 the speaker is exploring or testing a hypothesis about his
experiencing. While he must define the subject of this process clearly with
inner references, his manner may be conditional, tentative, hesitant, or
The content is a synthesis of readily accessible, newly recognized, or more
fully realized feelings and experiences to produce personally meaningful
structures or to resolve issues. The speaker's immediate feelings are integral
to his conclusions about his inner workings. He communicates a new or enriched
self-experiencing and the experiential impact of the changes in his attitudes or
feelings about himself. The subject matter concerns the speaker's present and
emergent experience. His manner may reflect changes or insights at the moment of
their occurrence. These are verbally elaborated in detail. Apart from the
specific content, the speaker conveys a sense of active, immediate involvement
in an experientially anchored issue with evidence of its resolution or
The feelings involved must be vividly, fully, or concretely presented.
Past feelings or past changes in feelings are vividly presented or relived as
part of the speaker's current experience.
The structuring process relates these immediately felt events to other
aspects of the speaker's private perspective. Thus, a feeling might be
related to the speaker's self-image, his private perceptions, motives,
assumptions, to another feeling, or to more external facets of the speaker's
life, such as his behavior. In each case the nature of the relationship must be
defined so that details of how the speaker works inside and the precise,
internal impact of the changes is revealed. It is not merely the existence of a
relationship, nor a sequential listing of feelings and inner experiences, but
the nature and quality of the association that is made clear.
The synthetic, structuring process leads to a new, personally
meaningful inner experience or resolves an issue. As a result of working
with his feelings and other aspects of his private perspective, and exploring
their relationship to each other, the speaker has new inner experiences. These
may be new feelings or chary:' feelings, as when the speaker says, "Now I'm
beginning to see that my feeling of guilt is caused by my ideas about work, and
it makes me feel much less worried about that sense of guilt. What a
relief!" Alternatively, an issue may be resolved: "You know, I've
always kept my anger bottled up because I've been afraid of losing control of
myself. Now I realize it wouldn't be so bad if 1 did; maybe I'd yell or throw
something, that's all." If the speaker starts with a concrete external
problem, the related feelings must be presented as part of his present
experience and the emergent formulation must change his perception of the
problem in some way. For example, "I never asked a girl out because I'm so
short. I'm still kind of afraid a girl might call me a shrimp or something, but
I'm willing to take that risk now. I guess it's because I realize that even if
she did, it wouldn't break me up. I wouldn't like her very much, but I'd feel
better about myself for having at least tried." Some elements in the
emergent structure may be external, behavioral, or intellectual, as in a
decision to act in a different way. Still they must be clearly grounded to
immediate feelings. It is never sufficient only to state that a resolution has
taken place; the experiences underlying the structuring process must be revealed
or relived to satisfy the criteria for stage six.
The content reveals the speaker's expanding awareness of his immediately
present feelings and internal processes. He demonstrates clearly that he can
move from one inner reference to another, altering and modifying his conceptions
of himself, his feelings, his private reactions to his thoughts or actions in
terms of their immediately felt nuances as they occur in the present
experiential moment, so that each new level of self-awareness functions as a
springboard for further exploration.
Formulations about the self at stage seven meet the requirements for
stage six with the additional stipulation that they be applied to an expanding
range of inner events or give rise to new insights. The development may
follow one of several different patterns:
1) The speaker may start with an internally anchored problem, explore it, and
reach an internally anchored conclusion that he then applies to a number of
2) He may arrive at several related solutions to a single problem and
reintegrate them. Any self-analysis is followed by a more comprehensive or
3) The speaker may use several different formulations about himself, each of
which meets the requirements for stage six, and integrate, relate, or reduce
them through a more basic or general formulation.
4) He may start with one conclusion of the type reached in stage six and
apply it to a range of situations, each with inner referents explicit, to show
how the general principle applies to a wide area of his experience.
Experiencing at stage seven is expansive, unfolding. The speaker readily uses
a fresh way of knowing himself to expand his experiencing further. Manner at
this stage is often euphoric, buoyant, or confident; the speaker conveys a sense
of things falling quickly and meaningfully into place.
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