What are Happy Brain Groups?

We all have a core impulse to recognize our inherent wholeness. Happy Brain Groups are for those who want to experience support, community, and deep connection, and who want to be around other humans who are balancing their brains.

In our groups, one way we do this is by turning toward ourselves with warmth. This helps us to make our brain a happy place to live. I believe this process of regulating our brain is most likely to happen when we surround ourselves with other caring humans who want to hold us with kindness, understanding, and deep listening. An essential principle I’ve learned from doing this work is that we need each other — our brains are not wired to “go it alone.” We need, in caring community, to be heard, seen, witnessed, understood, and met for who, what, and where we are in the moment. This allows us the emotional resources to turn toward ourselves with kindness, while addressing what blocks us from living the life we want to live.

Our group has a different focus every 6 weeks, and in each group we practice a language for finding common ground with anyone, anywhere, both personally and professionally.

How does a Happy Brain Group differ from other groups?

What’s missing for me in our general mode of communication is warmth: turning toward ourselves with warmth and a true desire to listen deeply and compassionately to others, without trying to fix them or “help” them change. Many people (like myself) didn’t know how to receive tenderness, care, and listening, though these are universal needs that we all share. If we can’t get these needs met, we often blame ourselves (or others) for missing out on something we don’t believe we can have.

When we begin to companion ourselves with affection and welcome, a softening begins to emerge. Perhaps we’re in a cycle of pain and self-hatred where we haven’t been able to move past the darkness in our upbringing. The sense of belonging and mattering lets us be present with our past without needing it to be different. We’re having our experience while being held in caring community by others. We’re not alone. New neurobiological connections change us— a re-wiring of the brain happens, where there’s an inner strength that gently soothes the edges of self-blame and guilt. These changes help us to navigate the emotional ups and downs of life while we organically become more relational and empathic.

What happens in a Happy Brain Groups Group?

Happy Brain Groups take place in person in Mill Valley, CA. and online via Zoom video groups. Our group combines these three fields of study that help us make our brain a happy place to live:

1) The study of social neuroscience, AKA interpersonal neurobiology

Did you grow up in a family where there was warmth and tenderness, and your feelings and needs were cherished? Did you have an ongoing experience of mattering and belonging? If you’re like me and you didn’t, there’s great news about the neuroplasticity of our brains. We can develop an internalized version of the parent we always wanted, where we companion ourselves in ways that calm our inner critic, soothe emotional pain, and protect our tender nervous system from isolation, shame, and reactive triggers. It’s called our resonating self-witness, and it’s a slow and steady process of rewiring our brain.

In social neuroscience we learn how our brain relates to other brains, bringing a deeper understanding about our humanity. Using fun cartoon images, we’ll understand:

  • how our old patterns of thinking and behaving developed, and how to change them
  • how to nourish warm relationality with ourselves and others
  • ways we can experience a more calm, regulated nervous system, which includes more resilient and balanced emotions, the experience of calm self-connection, and flexibility in our response to others. This is an integrated brain, the heartbeat of well-being.

For questions or more information: Call Katherine at 415 381-9161 (landline) or email KatherineQ@Richerliving.org

2) The practice of compassionate communication

Using the tools and language of Nonviolent Communication (NVC), we speak and listen from the depths of our being, holding others and ourselves with care and resonance. Practicing NVC literally strengthens the fibers of connection in our brain and paves the way for us to become more compassionate, empathic, and loving. It also helps us express ourselves with ease and authenticity while honoring our universal deep needs to matter and to be understood.

We practice offering (and receiving) empathy, a respectful understanding of what others are experiencing, without trying to fix them and without turning away.

Current brain science tells us that receiving warmth and empathy helps us to heal trauma by rewiring our neural pathways. This allows us more flexibility and regulation of our emotions so that we do not get thrown off in times of stress or overwhelm. It also helps us to more easily feel empathy for others.

Here is a link to an animation of part of Brene Brown's Ted Talk on Vulnerability where she talks about the difference between empathy and sympathy.

3) Family Constellations

For 1 or 2 out of the 6 sessions, I will facilitate a Family Constellation, or we’ll do smaller constellations where everyone can participate as the receiver, a representative, or a witness. No previous experience is needed. Through this process we gain insight from the many historical influences after which we have unconsciously patterned our behavior. This making sense of our family history allows us greater choice as we move forward. Family constellation work is the quickest, gentlest, and most powerful tool I know of for harvesting the wisdom in our bodies. See above link for more info.

As we fold together neuroscience, NVC, and constellations in our Happy Brain Groups, we develop and nurture the neural pathways that create emotional agency. This strengthens the internal and external resources that are required for taking action on what we feel, want, and need.

I have deep love and respect for my teacher, Sarah Peyton (EmpathyBrain.com). Without her in my life I would not be a student and teacher of this work.

Make Your Brain a Happy Place To Live… Neuroplasticity: What’s in it for me?

Two Online Groups

The 3-week online video support community (via Zoom) is for anyone who is very motivated to make their brain a happy place to live. We are doing a 3-week group because of the holidays, and will resume our 6-week groups in January. The focus for the groups starting in December is a continuation of the previous group: Turning Toward Ourselves with Warmth. If this is your first Happy Brain group, you are welcome to jump in!

Reading: Your Resonant Self by Sarah Peyton

Wednesday group: 3 Wednesdays, December 2 – December 16th, 2020

Time: 9:00 am –10:45 am, Pacific Time

Thursday group: 3 Thursdays, December 3rd – December 17th, 2020

Time: 6:30 pm –8:15 pm, Pacific Time

Cost: $63.08 (includes PayPal fee) for the 3-week group, or you can send a check for $60. Contact me if you need a reduced rate.

Register or questions: email Katherine: KatherineQ@RicherLiving.org. If you are registering, please include your phone number and say if you want the Wednesday group or the Thursday group.

Pay securely via the PayPal button below.


In-person Group

There are currently no in-person groups, only online groups.

In Happy Brain Groups we are welcome, just as we are. Here, we each are reminded that our humanity is sacred.


Click here for testimonials


“One awesome thing about Eeyore is that even though he is basically clinically depressed, he still gets invited to participate in adventures and shenanigans with all of his friends. And they never expect him to pretend to feel happy, they just love him anyway, and they never leave him behind or ask him to change.”
~ Author unknown


Click here for IN-PERSON Happy Brain groups, and other online groups