Social Emotional Learning


   Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is the means by which people acquire knowledge and skills necessary to becoming emotionally literate. Emotional Literacy refers to a person’s ability to understand, regulate, and convey the emotional elements of human experience. This not only includes the capacity for individual growth and self-awareness, but also the ability to feel Empathy for others and react through acts of compassion. Social-Emotional learning and Empathy development enable people to interact positively in the world through the development of meaningful relationships, problem solving skills, and ethical decision making. The Empathy Training Project (ETP) was founded on the premise that these skills will be the most valuable assets to our future as a global society. 

   Social and Emotional Learning Programs like that of ETP, create curriculum and promote interventions which are designed to assist the advancement of emotional literacy training. ETP functions under the assertion that people learn most efficiently when taught in a safe, kind, and supportive environment.

The Empathy Training Project is guided by the CASEL (2003) key competency standards for teaching SEL as follows: Self Awareness, Social Awareness, Responsible Decision Making, Self-Management, Relationship Skills.


  Recently, there has been a call from educators and mental health professionals alike for the integration of Social Emotional Learning and Empathy development in the lives of children.  The Empathy Training Project has worked to integrate research-based strategies into the core curriculum in an effort to encourage academic and emotional growth.


  Empirical research shows that our social environment and emotional worlds have a significant impact on the way our brains process and store information. The way we interpret and utilize what we learn is also affected by our relationships across settings.

 We now know that many of the challenges which act as barriers to student success (i.e. mental health concerns, disruptive behaviors etc.) have been linked to deficits in social-emotional skills. These problems drain teachers, expend resources, disrupt learning, and interfere with absorption and retention capabilities. Most importantly, these factors produce emotional distress which contribute to negative Mental Health conditions. 

  Conversely, research shows that when children experience consistent positive and emotionally safe learning environments, they are more academically successful, have higher self-esteem, are better able to handle stress, make responsible decisions more often, and establish healthy relationships with peers, family and educators. Additionally, classrooms which promote positive development experience a decrease in challenging behaviors, aggression, suspensions, absences, emotional deregulation and bullying.


Studies indicate that the benefits of implementing a Social-Emotional learning program can outweigh the budget costs. Some examples include:

  • SEL programs have been shown to increase teacher work satisfaction. Teacher retention is an important element of cost effectiveness due to the high cost of training new teachers. 
  • SEL programs reduce suspensions and absences which can be costly to districts which receive funding based on average daily attendance. 
  • SEL programs have been shown to be sustainable and efficient where many current discipline strategies (i.e. bullying, consequence)s lack evidence.
  • SEL programs have been shown to prevent delinquency and reduce utilization of mental health services, which can be costly.