Gottman Feelings Wheel

Assist your patients with identifying and understanding their emotions with the help of a Gottman feelings wheel. Click here for a free template copy!

By Patricia Buenaventura on Apr 08, 2024.

Fact Checked by Ericka Pingol.

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Introduction to the Gottman Feelings Wheel

The Gottman's Feelings Wheel, a creation of Dr. Gloria Willcox from the esteemed Gottman Institute, is a tool designed to facilitate the recognition and communication of emotions. Rooted in the belief that emotional awareness is a skill to be acquired, this wheel serves as a valuable aid in the journey towards personal understanding and expressing feelings effectively.

The wheel's structure has an inner circle featuring six basic emotions: mad, sad, scared, joyful, powerful, and peaceful. These fundamental emotions form the foundation of our complex emotional experiences. Surrounding this core are two outer concentric circles, intricately detailing secondary emotions that orbit and intertwine with the primary ones. This design provides a nuanced and comprehensive framework to delve into the multifaceted nature of human emotions.

The wheel's purpose is to:

  • Expand one's emotional vocabulary: This aids individuals in pinpointing the exact nuances of their emotional states
  • Help with self-discovery and introspection: This helps provide insight into the underlying currents shaping one's experiences in order to find constructive and adaptive ways to engage with one's specific feelings.
  • Teach the individual that recognizing feelings is a learned skill: This helps with practice and reflection until one can hone their emotional intelligence.

Whether utilized in therapeutic settings or for personal growth, the Feeling Wheel is a valuable instrument for clearly understanding the intricacies of one's emotional life. It provides a structured approach to identifying and comprehending feelings, fostering a deeper connection with one's emotional self.

Printable Gottman Feelings Wheel

Download this Gottman Feelings Wheel to help clients understand their emotions.

The importance of understanding one's feelings

The importance of understanding and naming one's feelings cannot be overstated, as it plays a pivotal role in shaping the quality of one's relationships, regulating one's emotions, fostering personal empowerment, and unraveling the complexities of one's behavior.

Here's a breakdown of the reasons why it's important to understand and name one's feelings:

Emotional awareness

Being emotionally aware equips one with the powerful tool to navigate the intricate terrain of relationships. If one can clearly articulate their feelings, it facilitates more effective communication, which can aid in building and nurturing meaningful connections.

Emotion regulation

Emotional regulation is understanding and naming one's feelings instead of suppressing or avoiding emotions. By unraveling the complex interplay of emotions, one gains insight into their origins and can develop strategies to manage them constructively, preventing the escalation of conflicts.


Naming one's feelings is an act of empowerment. It highlights the choices one can make in responding to one's feelings. Realizing that one can influence the course of one's emotional journey empowers one to make conscious decisions about how to engage with and channel one's emotions, which can lead to personal growth, resilience, and capacity to shape one's emotional well-being.

Understanding behavior

Emotions are powerful motivators that drive behavior. The ability to name and understand these emotions is critical to deciphering the underlying motivations influencing one's actions. By unraveling this emotional tapestry, one gains a deeper understanding of oneself, aligning one's actions with one's goals and navigating the complexities of life with greater clarity.

How to use the Feelings Wheel to identify one's feelings

Step 1: Obtain a copy of the feelings wheel

Access and download a printable version of the Gottman Feelings wheel by either:

Step 2: Familiarize with the wheel's structure

Examine the Gottman Feelings Wheel to understand its composition. The inner circle features six primary feelings: mad, sad, scared, joyful, powerful, and peaceful. The outer concentric circles detail secondary feelings associated with the primary ones, providing a nuanced perspective on emotional states.

Step 3: Reflect on current emotional state

Have the patient pause and reflect on their present emotional state. The inner circle of the emotion wheel can serve as a starting point for identifying their core emotions. Afterward, they may explore the outer circles of the wheel.

Step 4: Write down identified emotions

Give the patient a moment to journal or make notes about the specific emotions they have identified. Writing down feelings can further solidify their awareness and provide a record for future reflection.

Step 5: Practice, Reflect, and Connect

Ensure your patient has a copy of the Gottman Feelings wheel whenever they practice their emotional awareness and reflect on their emotional journey. They may share their emotional discoveries with you and their trusted friends and family throughout this journey. Doing this can offer new perspectives, strengthen relationships, and support navigating complex feelings.

Gottman feelings wheel example (sample)

Here's a copy of the filled-out PDF of the Gottman feelings wheel template available for print and digital use. You can examine and save this template whenever you need insight or guidance on using the blank template.

However, note that the sample's information is entirely fictional. Moreover, the example only illustrates one of the many ways the chart can be used. We recommend that you personalize the blank template according to what you need.

Download this Gottman Feelings Wheel example: 

Gottman feelings wheel example (sample)

Who should use the feeling wheel tool?

The Gottman Feelings Wheel is a versatile instrument that benefits a diverse range of individuals, irrespective of age or relationship status. Its applications span various domains, with particular significance in psychology, therapy, and personal development.

The inclusivity of the Feelings Wheel makes it a valuable resource for a broad spectrum of individuals and professionals:

  • Therapists and counselors: Mental health professionals leverage the Feelings Wheel to enhance therapeutic interventions, facilitating deeper emotional exploration and communication.
  • Couples: Whether in the early stages of a relationship or navigating the complexities of long-term commitment, couples benefit from using the Feelings Wheel to foster understanding and connection.
  • Individuals in therapy: Those undergoing individual therapy can employ the Feelings Wheel to elucidate and articulate their emotions, contributing to a more profound self-awareness.
  • Self-help enthusiasts: Individuals seeking personal growth and emotional well-being independently use the Feelings Wheel to expand their emotional vocabulary and enhance self-awareness.

Why use Carepatron as your therapy software?

Selecting Carepatron as your therapy practice management software offers more than a handful of advantages that resonate with healthcare practitioners.

The foundation of Carepatron's appeal lies in its provision of a centralized healthcare workspace. There, healthcare practitioners can find clinical documents, patient records, appointments, finances, and client interactions, which are all seamlessly managed. With this approach, healthcare practitioners can streamline the process of monitoring and interpreting, consequently simplifying administrative tasks and allowing them to direct their attention toward the core of their practice.

Efficiency and productivity receive a boost with Carepatron. Healthcare practitioners can customize tools and workflows to cater to their unique needs. Moreover, creating interactive experiences simplifies the booking of services, completion of necessary paperwork, and secure payment processing, ensuring a smooth and user-friendly experience for clients and practitioners.

Carepatron's prowess extends to medical records management, offering a digital avenue for handling reports, documents, and medical notes. The app's day-to-day healthcare administrative processes automation further optimizes the practice's efficiency. With integrated patient communication tools, such as patient portals, mobile health applications, and telehealth features, Carepatron enhances care delivery.

Finally, incorporating top-tier medical dictation software guarantees secure and precise documentation. Moreover, the platform supports HIPAA compliance, assuring the safeguarding of patient data.

All these features collectively make Carepatron an ideal choice for healthcare practitioners prioritizing efficiency and the patient experience.

If you're one of the practitioners who need assistance in this area, don't miss out on the chance to download Carepatron. Create a free account and sign up today!

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What is the feeling wheel therapy activity?
What is the feeling wheel therapy activity?

Commonly asked questions

What is the feeling wheel therapy activity?

It's a type of activity wherein the referring physician and the client use the feeling wheel to narrow down the core emotion/s the patient is feeling.

What are the six core emotions on the feeling wheel?

The six core emotions are mad, sad, scared, joyful, powerful, and peaceful.

How do you use the feelings wheel?

Our feelings wheel template can be used as a guide, tool, reference, or even document that one can use to track their progress.

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