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5 Ways Group Therapy Empowers You in Relationships

Tired of feeling like an outsider? Group therapy can help.

You can relax and listen without distraction when your favorite love song is played on a well-tuned instrument. A cheerful participatesBut when the device is out of tune, even a master musician can’t make it sound right.

Emotional attunement operates similarly in relationships. You're drawn to that person when someone listens to you thoughtfully and responds authentically. There’s no static communication; there’s no approval-seeking or narcissistic ranting. You feel understood and content.

Where can you learn to be so comfortable and at ease in relationships?

How Group Therapy Helps

Individual therapy is an excellent tool for strengthening your identity. A skilled individual therapist can help you better understand your history, feelings and impulses, and choices: it can help heal trauma, awaken passions, ease anxiety, etc.

As individual therapy focuses on improving your relationship with yourself, group therapy focuses on improving your relationships with others, specifically, how you communicate and behave in relationships. For example:

  • Do you get anxious or fearful in intimate exchanges?
  • Do you become controlling, irritated, or combative?
  • Do you feel let down or unfulfilled?

Social difficulties require social treatment. Group provides a place to practice new ways of being with others. As your attunement improves, you’ll learn to establish healthier, more satisfying relationships. Additionally, you’ll begin to undo your bad habits that most often trigger social difficulties. (See 3 Ways Group is Better Than Individual Therapy)

In group therapy, as you strengthen your attunement with others, you’ll:

  1. Communicate with greater clarity.
  2. Stress less about conflicts.
  3. Share your genuine thoughts and feelings.
  4. Listen with greater empathy and consideration.
  5. Develop your authentic voice.

The Tuned-Out Person

Have you ever worked for a boss who was constantly distracted, preoccupied, or unavailable? You get the feeling he’s not listening – and you’re right. You want to do your job well, but if he’s so out of tune with you, you’re never quite sure what he wants or if he’s pleased with your work. One moment, he’s supportive; the next, he’s irritated. Sometimes he piles on demands; other times, he abandons you.

He’s out of tune with you – and it’s maddening. Feeling recognized, understood, and valued by others is an essential human need.

Eventually, you might muster up the courage to find a more positive place to work. But what if you couldn’t quit that job because that distracted person is your parent, sibling, or spouse?

With attunement, relationships are manageable and satisfying. Without the tools to nurture attunement, you’re left with an emptiness that no amount of therapy, self-help seminars, or life coaching will fill.

Practicing Attunement in Life

Knowing when you’re in tune – and when you’re not – is fundamental to improving your relationships. If therapy groups aren’t available in your area, here are some basic suggestions to tune up your way of being with others:

Stop Multitasking

It’s impossible to listen to someone when your attention is truly divided. Multitasking may feel good to you, but it’s disrespectful. No one likes to compete for attention. Multitask when you’re alone, but when communicating with others, for goodness' sake, stop and listen.

Put Down the Screen

Like it or not, we’re all a part of “Generation Screen.” How many times a day do we stop and stare at a glowing monitor? Cell phones, i-Pads, computers, the TV – you name it. While technology has dramatically improved our ability to share information, it’s not a substitute for human contact. Many folks use technology as a defense against intimacy or to avoid complicated feelings. For mature, satisfying emotional communication, put down the screen and look into another person’s eyes.

Focus on Listening

Today’s world is built for distraction. Is it any wonder that ADD is among the top diagnoses? Ironically, the less time you spend with others, your insecurities and obsessions mushroom. Listening to someone else and being attuned ultimately strengthens and grounds you.

Stay Engaged

A distracted “uh-huh” is the empty calories of communication. If you feel someone is not listening, confront them. If you catch yourself not listening, stop and ask questions. If you say, “I’m sorry, what did you say?” more than two or three times a week, you tend toward disassociation; the distance you put between you and another person may feel comforting, but ultimately makes you less interesting, less attractive, and undermines your friendships.

Practice Mindfulness

A lack of attunement with others frequently stems from a lack of attunement with oneself. Attunement begins with getting in touch with your inner world. Mindfulness practice helps keeps you balanced and grounded in the moment. It also empowers you to take responsibility for your moods, making you less likely to blame others or say destructive things to loved ones.

Toward a New Way of Being

Attunement is the beating heart of any relationship; it will never disappoint you. Group therapy offers the tools to strengthen attunement, live more fully in the moment, and build more satisfying relationships. (See "How Group Therapy Can Help You Empty Your Basket of Troubles.")

For information on therapy groups or workshops, visit

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