Our meetings: We first meet for about 1/2 hour with a pot-luck meal or snacks, then people express their preferences and we decide as a group on the content and processes of the next two hours of our meeting time.
Purpose: We wish to provide emotional and social support (not therapy) for singles learning about and concerned about their relationships as viewed through the lens of attachment theory and emotion-focused therapy as described by Susan Johnson in her book Hold Me Tight (required reading) and other work. We will not turn couples away, but we do recommend that couples not come if experiencing significant conflict. Here, “support” does not refer to giving others advice, making suggestions, giving “interpretations” of various kinds, nor telling others about the “right” or “wrong” nature of their thoughts or feelings. It does mean providing empathic support related to the fear, anxiety, trauma, and grief that people often experience in their relationships—support based on science-based attachment theory and emotion-focused therapy as developed by John Gottman, Susan Johnson, and colleagues. We wish to learn and practice empathy skills within an attachment theory framework, with each participant changing their own emotions with the helpful and active empathy, not advice, of others present. Caution: Because of lack of trust, reduced sense of safety, and potential for escalation, couples experiencing significant interpersonal upset or trauma, including emotional abuse and/or physical violence, probably would best not attend these meetings together.
Motivation: This group grew out of a three-year-old emotion-focused extinction support group based on the realization that "Learning to cherish another person and allowing that person to cherish you is the greatest blessing of life. Love is the most sacred experience we can have." (John Gottman in What Makes Love Last.) Meanwhile, relationships, and the lack of relationships, often produce powerful, negative emotional responses. These responses often include fear, anxiety, anger, alienation, loneliness, helplessness, and/or depression, as well as grief and trauma reactions. Given our highly alienated, disconnected society, we need to help and support each other in emotional and social ways as we learn about and experience these things.
Goal: We wish to create an emotionally safe emotional base for participants to develop within, and leave, by having group conversations with significant, empathy-based emotional accessibility, responsiveness, and engagement characteristics.
Reading our complete Agenda, found under More/Files, will probably answer most questions you may have.