Being able to manage your emotions is one of the strongest determinates of wellbeing in life.

The House Within is a fresh approach to understanding how our emotions work.

It is based on simple, familiar language, and a universal, visual image of a house. Thie House Within  has 5 floors; a Ground floor, Upstairs and Attic, a Basement and Cellar, which represent 5 different emotional statesof mind. We function differently on each of these floors. The Ground floor is the floor which promotes optimal wellbeing.

Central to the model are concepts such as feeling stirred up and stirred down, spinning, snooping, recruiting, games, deliciousness, “economy of effort”, a spiral staircase, “a white dot on a bicycle tyre”, astronaut thinking and a “point of no return from which we must return”. Importantly, this model is dynamic, reflecting the fluctuations of our emotional worlds.

The language used in The House Within is not medical or psychological. The model uses everyday language that contains within it what we need to do to change our mental state. For example, anxious feelings come under the phrase stirred up. If we are labelled as anxious we may not know what to do to relieve that state. However, the words stirred up imply within them that we need to calm down and get ourselves back to the Ground floor. The House Within model contains key techniques to help someone restore Ground floor functioning, but the visual image and language of being stirred up, also contain within them what we need to do to feel better.

The House Within brings a whole new conceptualization of negative self talk, understanding it as a signpost indicating we are stirred up. It helps us to locate ourselves in the House Within and tells us what we need to do to get back to the Ground floor. The House Within encourages us to view our emotional state from outside it.

The House Within is very useful as a framework for helping couples. Often when two people come together to form a couple, they merge their separate Houses Within to create a single House Within. One partner lives in the upper floors of this merged House and the other takes up residence in the lower floors. The middle or Ground floor, which is the floor on which social relationships work best, is left vacant. Helping each member of the couple to develop a separate Houses Within and to focus on being on the Ground floor of their own House Within, is the task of working with couples.

The House Within model has been trialled in clinical practice for the past 7 years and has been found to be readily understood, rapidly integrated, and effective in helping people manage their emotional states. Clients have referred to the model as emotional architecture. It gives people a structure in their emotional worlds where no structure was before.


Pauline Pearson is a counsellor, mental health social worker and psychotherapist in Melbourne, Australia.

Pauline brings to many years of clinical practice, a keen interest in developing ways to help people understand more about their emotional lives so they can feel better able to manage emotionally.

She has a skill in simplifying the essence of complex theories, making them more accessible for the community. Pauline creates psychosocial models by bringing together understandings from a range of disciplines and information sources.

In THE HOUSE WITHIN she draws on her knowledge from a science degree, an interest in neuroscience, experience in psychoanalysis, training in psychology and an appreciation of the work of Dante’s Divine Comedy, to complement what she has learned by listening to the many people she works with in counselling and therapy, and her own experience of therapy.

Pauline has worked at the University of Melbourne as both a counsellor, and seminar leader in the Bachelor of Social Work course. For many years she managed a large community counselling service in Melbourne. She has also taught counselling at the Australian College of Applied Psychology and the Southern School of Natural Therapies. For the past 20 years, Pauline has been in private practice in Carlton, Melbourne.

Her grandparents were migrants to Melbourne from the Aeolian Islands off the coast of Sicily. While her grandparents had very little education, her grandfather had a keen interest in and curiosity about many subjects. Her mother, who was highly educated, became a school librarian who helped children develop their interest in reading, often encouraging her students to start with the simplest of literature.


Since the first training workshops were held in 2017, many psychologists and social workers have been introduced to THE HOUSE WITHIN model. We are now hearing of the model being used in a variety of settings including a university counselling service, and in a major Melbourne hospital, psych ward, where the model has been used to process the work with patients.

We have worked with teachers who are beginning to explore how THE HOUSE WITHIN can be incorporated into student wellbeing settings. And we are interested to work with schools who may wish to adopt THE HOUSE WITHIN approach as a class, or whole of school, framework.

in 2017 ,the Australian Association of Social Workers endorsed THE HOUSE WITHIN WORKSHOPS as accredited CPD training for social workers.

THE HOUSE WITHIN is relevant for wellbeing programs in workplaces, in maternal and child health settings, and for patients presenting with a range of mental health issues in General Practice medical settings.

With the future development of an accreditation process for practitioners and now with online training courses, it is anticipated that THE HOUSE WITHIN community will grow more rapidly in the coming period.



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