Austin Group Psychotherapy Society

Institute: Growth in Connection: Fostering Emotional Engagement in Group Therapy

  • Saturday, July 29, 2023
  • 9:00 AM
  • Sunday, July 30, 2023
  • 12:30 PM
  • Location provided upon registration
  • 0


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Facilitated by: Katharine Barnhill, LCSW, CGP

Event Description:

Groups are enlivened when members engage with one another in emotionally meaningful ways; however, taking relational risks is scary! Saying how we feel puts us at risk for rejection, abandonment, and criticism, just to name a few. Acceptance and safety can start to feel more important than being known, at the expense of true connection and healing. 

In this process group experience we will focus on immediacy and emotional engagement. The leader will support members as they identify and work through barriers to authentic and direct communication. We will explore how working in the “here and now” enlivens the group as a whole and vitalizes the individual member's experience in the group. 

Participation in an experiential institute is an opportunity to engage with our full selves in service of our development as therapists. Experiential group practice benefits therapists by widening their window of tolerance for uncomfortable feeling states. It also increases clarity about the therapist's unique reactions to different kinds of relational contact, and provides needed nourishment.

About the Presenter: 

Katharine is a Clinical Social Worker and Certified Group Psychotherapist who brings a relational, emotion-focused stance to therapy with individuals, couples and groups. She leads 4 mixed gender process groups and a training group for therapists in her private practice in Austin, TX. Her approach to group therapy is strongly influenced by attachment theory, interpersonal neurobiology, modern analytic group therapy, and the principles of trauma informed care. She spent 12 years as a therapist in community mental health and agency settings prior to opening her private practice over a decade ago. 

What Are Group Institutes?

Institutes are a highly experiential form of small group teaching led by experienced instructors. They are intended to develop therapy skills relevant to leading groups. They often offer a chance to explore a particular theme in greater depth or to experience a different theoretical approach. Institutes are primarily designed for mental health professionals who have clinical psychotherapy experience. While institutes are not therapy, they are process-oriented and it is expected that they may stir feelings spanning the whole range of human experience. Members agree to attend the entire group, to participate actively, and to respect the confidentiality of the other members. The secure environment of these small groups allows for rich cognitive and deep emotional learning about group process and oneself, not to mention a chance for personal and professional renewal.


Saturday July 29th

9:00am-10:30am: Orientation to the weekend, Introductions, Brief Didactic

10:30am-10:45am: Break

10:45am-12:15pm: Group

12:15pm-1:45pm: Lunch

1:45pm-3:15pm: Group

3:15pm-3:30pm: Break

3:30pm-5:00pm: Group

Sunday July 30:

9:00am-10:30am: Group

10:30am-10:45am: Break

10:45am-11:30am: Group

11:30am-12:15pm: Process the process, Q & A

12:15-12:30: Evaluations



Participants will be able to:

1: Explore how immediacy can increase emotional engagement in the group experience.

2: Evaluate how the exploration of both sameness and difference impacts the group’s sense of vitality and cohesiveness.

3: Identify common barriers to intimacy in the group setting. 

4: Experience how group can help members explore “there and then” attachment patterns by noticing what they feel “here and now.” 

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