The Emotionally Disconnected Group

Expressing and working with emotions in the present moment of the group often represent a major challenge to people who are disconnected from their feelings and/or acculturated to presenting a "nice," accommodating stance in the presence of conflict. This reluctance to express so-called negative feelings is often closely associated with a suppression of body awareness and, therefore, little access to emotional awareness that can be stated in words. These disconnections can be bridged by the use of sensory and kinesthetic modes of expression, such as art, movement, and drama (Lark, 2001; Lusebrink, 1990, 2004).

The following intervention is a simple art task that can help a group increase its awareness of the affective-cognitive disconnections between their usual interpersonal patterns of behavior and the way they actually feel. Using art materials activates somatic involvement, which increases awareness of the feeling state and enlarges the amount of the brain used to process this awareness. This intervention can be used in a group that feels emotionally stuck or that expresses inhibitions around expressing unpleasant feelings directly within the group.

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