Authentic Communication Groups

What’s the number one source of friction in relationships? 

Communication.

Learning how to communicate effectively ranks high on the list of the most valuable of all life skills. 

Yet, many of us struggle to be seen and heard on a daily basis. This is especially true when we’re emotionally triggered. 

Like anything else in life, effective communication is something that’s improved with practice. Using new communication techniques and languages can be awkward to do with loved ones, friends or colleagues and nearly impossible to accomplish when in the midst of conflict.

That’s where an Authentic Communication Group comes in. It provides a safe space where people who value effective communication skills can practice with each other.  

The group is a place where space is held for you to experiment with how you express yourself to others, and to get honest feedback on how you’re being perceived by others. The door is opened to deeper awareness and connection within, and among group members.

The group is a place to practice awareness, honesty and connection. It is an exciting, and intense learning environment that gives you the opportunity to take risks and work on interpersonal issues as they arise. Group members interact with each other, expressing honestly how they impact each other in the present moment. 

You will be assisted in tuning into what you’re experiencing and speaking for what is alive in you in relation to the others in the group, while your seasoned facilitator also holds space for the wellbeing of all present.

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Dynamics of an authentic communication group

The group will function as a miniature model of your life. Most of the interpersonal issues you have at home or at work or with friends will show up sooner or later with someone in the group. Learning about these issues in the immediate moment and through honest feedback from other group members, who are also focused on being aware and handling issues with care, can bring tremendous healing, and value to you on your personal growth journey.

Modalities

We draw on two modalities to nurture connection in the group: Internal Family Systems (IFS) by Richard Schwartz, and Nonviolent Communication (NVC) by Marshall Rosenberg.

Using NVC and IFS, we practice speaking for our parts (as though our thoughts and feelings in any given moment are a part of who we are, but not all of who we are). 

In contrast, most of us, when we are emotionally triggered speak from our parts (as though we exist completely in our intense thoughts and feelings in the moment). 

NVC and IFS provide a language and a framework to help each person identify and speak for the fearful, angry or hurt parts of ourselves that may arise in the group. As we practice separating from our strong emotions and thoughts (our parts), and give voice to them using parts language, we automatically tap into a calm, and more compassionate place, which IFS calls the Self. 

Speaking for our parts helps each person to be witnessed by others so that issues can be discussed more calmly and with a greater sense of compassion and understanding. This makes the group safe for everyone, fosters effective communication, and often, deep healing for the group.

You may also find it beneficial to use NVC’s four-step process: 1. State specific observations. 2. Describe your feelings. 3. Name your needs. 4. Make requests.

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What to expect

When we meet in our groups, everyone will be encouraged to honestly express what they’re feeling in any given moment toward any of the other group members. 

In most relationships, if not all, it’s often the parts of ourselves that hold unhealed wounds that drive inner conflict and propel us into interpersonal conflict. These parts can block or shut down the communication process in an effort to protect our system.

By using the heart-based structures of NVC and IFS, we create an atmosphere of caring and trust, which allows for authentic communication to happen in a safe and connected way. In addition, each person will get feedback from others on how they’re responding or reacting to you. This is a powerful way to connect, grow and heal. As the group gets to know each other, a strong sense of warmth, connection and support emerges for each person in the group.

By participating in an authentic communication group, you can learn:

* To be more aware of and express your emotional triggers constructively. 

* To better understand and have compassion for how conflicts develop.

* To receive care and support from others.

* To be truly known for who you are.

* To recognize the interpersonal patterns that don’t serve you, and make changes as you heal and grow.

* To develop your capacity for intimacy.

* To communicate clearly and assertively without taking out your unresolved issues on others.

* To find the courage to address a reaction you may have with another group member, instead of avoiding the issue.

* To receive empathy from others, rather than deflecting it. 

* To build trust with trustworthy people so you can be open and vulnerable.

* To experience the healing and closeness that comes from resolving conflicts compassionately. 

* To be comfortable relating to a group of people.

* To see that others struggle with similar problems as yours, which can lead you to understand your issues more deeply. 

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Format

The group meets on Zoom twice a month for 2 hours each session.

This is a long-term, ongoing group that is limited to 8 people. 

There is a private Google group to connect with each other in between meetings.

Sessions are recorded and available for review for two weeks after the meeting date.

The price is $100 to $150 per month and includes a private consultation with the facilitator every three months to talk about how the group is going for you or  what challenges you may be facing.

The fee is due the first of every month.

How to start 

Kathy offers a free pre-group interview to see if the group is a good fit for you. You can email Kathy at parentingthesoul@yahoo.com to set up the interview. If you decide to try it out, you pay to join the group for a month and then decide if you want to continue. Payment can be made via Paypal or Venmo, an app that allows you to pay with ease. Please send the payment to parentingthesoul@yahoo.com

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Groups available

Group one:

Meets the second and fourth Monday of the month.

From 10 a.m. to noon, eastern time.

This group is open.

Group two:

Meets the first and third Monday of the month.

From 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. eastern time.

This group is open.

Group three:

Meets the first and third Monday.

From 1-3 p.m., eastern time.

This group is open.

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Other group possibilities

If you are interested in being a part of an Authentic Communication Group but the day and time above doesn’t work for you, email Kathy at parentingthesoul@yahoo.com. When there are 8 people interested, a new group can be formed.

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What’s it like to be in an authentic communication group

For the first group meeting, you will most likely focus on what comes up for you emotionally when you meet new people. However, much more takes place as the group evolves. For more information on Authentic Communication Groups, please read  Group Guidelines and Group Agreements .

About the facilitator, Kathy G. Brown

Kathy is passionate about creating safe environments where people can learn to share from their hearts, connect around differences, and resolve internal and external conflict. A journalist, mediator, NVC & IFS facilitator, and parenting consultant, Kathy has more than 30 years experience as a reporter and editor, and more than 20 years as an NVC facilitator. She also spent 10 years as a certified Aware Parenting Consultant. In addition to facilitating group work, she is a Florida Supreme Court Certified County, Family Law, and Dependency Mediator. She currently mediates in several Judicial Circuit Courts in Florida. She has incorporated NVC and IFS into her mediation practice. 

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