“This is the first time in my life I have learnt anything that is going to help me have a life”

Congratulations to Amanda Murdoch and her colleagues at Family Works in Cornwall, UK for demonstrating the impact of an emotional intelligence intervention on the lives of a group of 18-24 year olds who were facing significant life challenges.

Amanda was the recipient of a Six Seconds’ research grant, which enabled her Community organization, FamilyWorks, to utilize the Six Seconds’ Emotional Intelligence Assessment (SEI) to measure the impact of the program.

The development of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) in young people in Cornwall.  

FWorks by Amanda Murdoch. BSC (Hons), PGCE

         An inspirational group of young people in Cornwall, UK have taken part in an innovative project to develop their emotional intelligence, life skills and confidence.  The young people were some of the first in the UK to take part in a project of this kind to support positive changes within themselves and between others.  The young people, aged 18-24, live in an organisation that supports them with housing, support and education to get their life on track after facing significant life challenges.  Without the help of the organisation many would be homeless.  The Community Interest Company, Family Works, delivered the project.  Family Works was set up to inspire and support positive change in individuals, children and families in Cornwall.  It consists of a group of multi-disciplinary professionals and delivers ‘tailor made’ projects and interventions to suit the needs and circumstances of the client. The project was made possible with funding from The Big Lottery and the not-for-profit organization, Six Seconds.   Six Seconds is a global emotional intelligence organisation and network that supports people all over the world to gain the benefits of emotional intelligence.

What was the aim of the project?

         The project aimed to support the young people to explore some of their individual problems and make positive changes so that they can go onto lead independent and fulfilling lives.  One key aim of the project was to assist participants to develop the skills of Emotional Intelligence.  Emotional Intelligence is the ability to integrate thinking and feeling to make the best decisions for ourselves and others.  Research shows that developing the skills of emotional intelligence significantly contributes to positive outcomes in good health, relationship quality, self-efficacy, life satisfaction and personal achievement.  Key targets of the project were to support clients to develop their emotional literacy so that they could recognise and understand their emotions and find effective ways of coping with and expressing uncomfortable emotions.  The project also aimed to identify participants’ strengths and abilities to develop their confidence so that they can go on to access employment and or/training.

What was the design of the project?

         The project design involved 6 weeks of 1:1 work with a Family Works practitioner and then 15 sessions of group work.  Individuals had a choice of what type of 1:1 support they received ranging from psychotherapy, counselling, art therapy, life coaching and eco-psychology work. The 1:1 work was an opportunity for clients to receive individual attention to assist in exploring their needs and difficulties; it also allowed some of clients to develop enough trust and confidence so that they were able to enter into the group work.

         Following the 1:1 work, 15 sessions of group work was provided.   In these sessions the young people explored and learnt about a variety of topics e.g. emotional literacy, self-awareness, relaxation skills, stress management, identifying their strengths, planning for goals, optimism, communication and relationship skills.  Young people also learnt about The 6 Seconds model of Emotional Intelligence which is created by 6 Seconds, the global EQ organisation. The model is made up of 3 important pursuits that support us to develop our Emotional Intelligence; Know yourself- becoming more self-aware, Choose yourself- acting intentionally and Give yourself- acting with purpose.  Within each of these areas are specific emotional intelligence skills. These can be seen in the model below.

The 6 Seconds Model of Emotional Intelligence

6s Model Wilmott 


         Pre and post-intervention data was collected using the SEI- EQ assessment, which is an innovative assessment and development tool, based on the Six seconds model shown above. It measures 8 different emotional intelligence skills through self -report and provides a useful model and framework to understand ourselves.   The EQ assessment supported individuals to have an understanding of their current level of social and emotional skills and learn about different Emotional Intelligence skills.   Participants also had the option to set themselves a goal to develop an EQ skill of their choice, and many of them set themselves individual goals.  For example, one participant set themselves a goal to develop their skills of navigating emotions.  Three types of assessment were used for this project; the individual report, the group report and comparison report.  

         The Individual SEI assessment highlighted the EQ strengths that clients had and how they could use them to develop themselves and reach their goals. Many clients were unaware that they had strengths in this area, and so it offered them a wonderful insight into themselves, boosted their confidence and raised their awareness of emotional intelligence.  The group assessments allowed participants to see what the group’s strengths and challenges were. The group then set goals to increase certain EQ skills.  The use of these assessments allowed the group data to be collected at the start and then collected after the intervention, and this showed the impact of the intervention on the group’s level of emotional intelligence skills. Participants also took part in other measures to measure the impact of individual sessions and the overall project.

What was the impact of the project on the young people?

         The young people showed great courage and determination to come to the sessions each week to learn more about themselves and others and work towards their goals. Each week significant changes were observed in the young people. Some of the changes seen, measured and reported during and after the project are detailed below.


Some of the young people’s comments and feedback about the sessions:             Comments Wilmott

This is the first time in my life I have learnt anything that is going to help me have a life’

‘I find it easier to relate to others now’

‘I am looking at life more positively’

‘I feel happier’

‘It’s helping me to understand my emotions’     

‘We support each other now’

‘I make better choices’

‘I gained more understanding of others and myself’

         There were also a number of positive changes seen in the social development of the young people.  At the beginning of the group work some of the young people found it difficult to be in a group, to listen to one another or make verbal contributions.  By the end of the group work they were all able to take part actively in the group, to effectively listen to one another, concentrate and make thoughtful and valuable contributions. Wilmott Butterflies

Observations showed great developments in social skills, communication skills and confidence.  They also showed greater empathy towards each other and were able to support each other more.  Some had an increased sense of feeling like they could contribute positively to the community. With one participant commenting ‘that they have been part of the problem in their community and they now want to be part of the solution to improve their community.’  Thus the project supported the young people to build relationships in the group and go on to develop more rewarding relationships with others.  It is hoped that these positive changes will reduce the risk of anti-social behaviours and increase positive social behaviours.
         Further developments were recorded through the data collected from the SEI EQ assessments.  The data showed that by the end of the project the group had increased their social and emotional skills in 8 different areas.  These were Emotional Literacy, Recognising patterns, Consequential thinking, Navigating emotions, Intrinsic motivation, Optimism, Empathy, and Pursue Noble goals.  The group showed most development in the two skill areas that they had set themselves as goals.  Each individual also increased their own Emotional Intelligence skills in different ways.  For example, one participant was successful in obtaining training on a course because she was able to manage her anxiety to attend the training; previously anxiety had stopped her attending groups or getting out of the house.  
         The young people also showed improvements in confidence levels as well as optimism and hope for the future.  Many of the young people showed increased motivation in pursuing their career goals. Celebration Wilmott

          The end of the project was concluded with a celebration to honour the success of the young people and the progress they had made in both the group and as individuals.  This was a project that was seen to bring around positive transformations in the young people in so many ways, and it is hoped that the young people will go on to lead fulfilling and joyful lives.


To find out more about the services offered by Six Seconds or Family works go to:  www.6Seconds.org and

 FWorks www.familyworkscornwall.wordpress.

 The Family Works practitioners involved in the design and delivery of the Lifecycle Project were Ann Rogers, Hilde Mansfield, Louise Toft, Annabel Aguirre, Liz Norris, Claire Hinton and Amanda Murdoch.


 Inspiring and supporting positive change in children and families



Dr. Susan Stillman

Director of Education, Six Seconds' Global Office: With years of experience as an educational leader, scholar-practitioner, K-12 school counselor, and higher ed faculty, Susan brings a diverse background and set of skills to bear on her mission to build and sustain the Six Seconds' educational programs and to support Six Seconds' team members around the world, working to develop EQ in children, educators, families, schools, and communities.