Breaking Free: Groups for Individuals

As little children, we were born with high levels of self-esteem. We didn't lay in our cribs feeling bad about ourselves. We didn't try to hide what we felt or who we were from those around us. We didn't worry if people liked us. In fact, we had every confidence that we were likable and lovable.


Growing up we tried to share who we were by sharing our feelings, thoughts, behaviors. For most of us we were given the message - subtly or not - that we were wrong. We felt misunderstood, confused & overwhelmed. Nothing made sense. What we felt was wrong. What we thought was wrong. What we did was bad. And eventually we started to believe the message that we were wrong.

So we enter into the adult world feeling - on a very basic level – cautious; feeling afraid of not being okay with others or ourselves. This causes most of us to feel like we're flying by the seat of our emotional pants. We end up playing our families tapes & belief systems of self-criticism, denial, not being good enough, fear of closeness, distrust of others and ourselves. We try to find people who listen, understand, & don't over-react to what we are feeling. When - at the same time - we have no idea how to do that for ourselves or for others.

A lot of the time we are unconsciously convinced that there is something wrong with us. Being unaware of our feelings, fears, & family belief system tapes sets us up to do the very behaviors that cause us the most pain! Being unaware keeps us afraid and clueless as to how to change the feelings we have about ourselves.

It’s hard to break free from the tapes downloaded into us at a young age when we automatically believe anything we are told about ourselves. Self-esteem comes from accepting, understanding and sharing our feelings. Most of us were not taught how to do that so we don’t know how to feel emotionally safe.

Raising our self-esteem can be confusing. Sometimes it's hard to get a clear perspective on what to do. Once we recognize how our family patterns affect us we’re better able to break free from the messages and beliefs that don’t serve us in our adult lives.

By learning how a child's self-esteem is turned into self-doubt happens, we can then reverse the process and create change in our lives. By understanding what caused us to lose our natural born self-acceptance it becomes easier to learn self-esteeming skills, hear feedback on areas where we're stuck, get insights, and practice new behaviors that work! Having the awareness of how reactions cause us to feel depressed, hopeless, lonely, and undermines our self-esteem allows us to take charge and change how we view ourselves and our choices.

Breaking Free self-esteem groups will teach you how change is possible once you start to recognize patterns and behaviors that are going on in your life. You can get rid of the old tapes and make new ones. You can replace self-criticism with self-acceptance and appreciation. You learn to trust yourself and others. You learn how to stop judging yourself and learn not to feel afraid of being close. Self-esteem, confidence, emotional strength, and a feeling of safety comes from breaking free from the patterns and messages we were taught as children.

These insights lead us to an awareness of what is going on in our lives and how we can change it. In group you learn to be aware of old tapes and consciously make new ones. You learn how to believe in your observations and feelings so you can easily trust yourself and others. Breaking Free groups teach you how to stop feeling stuck. You’re self-esteem, confidence, emotional strength, and a feeling of safety comes from learning new skills, new insights and having a safe place to practice all the new skills that you are learning.

Raising our self-esteem can be confusing. Sometimes it’s hard to get a clear perspective on what to do. Our Breaking Free groups are uniquely designed to give clear feedback; create a supportive, educational place to learn & try out new skills and behaviors work!

Want To End The Arguing But Not The Relationship:

Classes for Couples

Remember when you first fell in love? You both felt good just being around one another. You knew that most of your communication was going to be positive and it was. There was little to be afraid of because of you were esteeming, understanding, and loving to one another.


So what happened?

How did you two get from there to where you are now?

Most couples don't have a clear answer to those questions. Couples can tell you in great detail how their partner has changed. They can list the things their partner does wrong or should do differently. But seldom is a couple able to describe what happened between the two of them - what things they both did or didn't do to create the hurt, pain, anger and distance in their relationship.

Although it varies from couple to couple there are certain factors that cause couples to do relationship-damaging- behaviors instead of relationship building behaviors. The majority of us were never taught how to tell the difference between our reactions and our feelings. Many of us believe they are one and the same. So when we have feelings about something we will react against our partner instead of talking with our partner. We expect our partner to be able to hear our reactions, which is almost always attacking, blaming and mean-spirited. Yet we aren’t able to hear our partner talked to us the same way. This lack of skills, on both sides, causes us to become defensive and destructive, which creates painful arguments, miscommunication, mind-reading and hurt feelings.


Once this happens it’s a downward spiral of blaming, reacting, and attacking. All shreds of the understanding, compassion, and heart-felt loving vanish. Couples are left with a deep feeling of loss, disappointment, and pain. At this point in the pattern couples want to feel understood by their partner but are unaware of how little they try to understand their partner.

So what is missing? Information and understanding. Think about it, most of us spent more time getting information & understanding about our new computer than we do about our relationship. Couples need to get information in order to understand what's going on in the relationship. Then they can become proficient at healthy, specific, and learnable skills. Motivated couples can have healthy, loving relationships. They can feel caring and intimate by learning how to be aware of their patterns and what to do when they get overwhelmed by reactions.

Our "Want to End The Arguing, But Not The Relationship? classes are extremely effective for couples that want to improve their relationship, be understood by their partner, recognize and change damaging relationship patterns, and feel close again.

Using an interactive college class format, couples learn to become skilled at how to end the painful arguing and miscommunication that causes them to hurt one another. By using specific, useful skills they start to change how they behave and feel towards one another. Partners can create guidelines for their relationship that will rebuild trust, caring and intimacy. By learning what to do when reactions overwhelm either partner, couples can successfully stop relationship-damaging behaviors and replace them with relationship-building behaviors.

Deciding to join a couple’s class is a big decision. It creates anxiety for many. Often times couples are concerned about: what it will be like talking about their issues in front of others, will the other couples judge them, will there be enough time for everyone to work on their issues, or what will it be like to look, not only at their partner’s behavior, but their own – to list a few.

One of the major reasons couples classes are so effective is because there are other couples.

It’s true that each couple has their own particular issues. But the repeated patterns and the specific ways couples go about handling their issues is universal. A couple that is arguing, not getting along and feeling distant is doing or not doing the same kinds of things that every other struggling couple is doing.

Being in a safe, supportive, focused class gives couples the kind of clear objective information that allows them to observe their own and their partner’s behaviors without feeling bad. In class couples see that everyone does the same things that don’t work and they start to practice new things that do.

These couple’s classes are for those who are ready to be gut-level honest with themselves and their partner. It’s for couples who want a more innovative and effective way to make changes. These classes are for those who want to learn how to look at the patterns in their relationship. By realizing what it is you are doing that is hurting your relationship you start to see that you have more control over your relationship outcome than you thought. When both partners get to this perspective learning, practicing, and doing new and effective things brings back hope, fun, and feeling close again.

Empowering OptionsTM is one of the few private practices in the Chicago land area that designs and runs these innovative classes for couples.

Confident Kids - An Instruction Manual:

Parenting Classes


We all want our children to be happy, confident & successful. While children are a whirlwind of wonder, activity and joy; research shows that children who feel good about themselves make positive, productive choices & display self-caring behaviors. Confident kids handle conflict and resist negative peer pressures more effectively than children with low levels of esteem & confidence. Most parents have never been taught how to give their children these healthy life essentials.

Self-esteemed kids are children that feel successful in their world. These are the children that grow up to be content and motivated with an abundance of confidence and self-belief instead of fear and self-doubt. No one teaches parents how to give their kids these skills. Every parent wants the best for their child but often times lacks the parenting knowledge needed. Effective, healthy parenting is about nurturing, supporting and raising & maintaining your child’s self-esteem.

Our parenting classes are for parents who want to learn about healthy and effective parenting styles. It’s for parents that want to learn how to not pass on the dysfunctional, self-defeating patterns they were taught as a child. It’s for parents who want to learn to increase their child’s self-esteem. It’s for parents who want to learn how to give their child the essential life skills they need to be confident, successful & happy.

Parents aren’t given a “Raising Confident Kids” instruction manual.

Come Learn Simple Yet Effective Skills
• Hands-on techniques for understanding & appreciating your   child’s behaviors.
• Why confident children grow up to be successful adults who   follow their dreams.
• Esteeming skills for handling your child’s behavior.
• What makes a child confident and esteemed.
• How to create permanent confidence in your child.
• How to give your child the essential tools they need to be successful, esteemed, happy & confident.


Our parenting classes are for those who are ready to be honest with themselves and their children. It’s for parents who want a more innovative and effective way to help their children make positive, productive choices & do self-caring behaviors. These classes are for those who are willing to learn how to look at the patterns in their family & relationship and see how these patterns affect their children. By realizing what it is you & your partner are doing that is un-esteeming your children and causing them to make poor choices or feel anxious and insecure - you start to see how you have more control over your children’s self-esteem than you thought. When parents have a safe, informative place to learn, practice, and do new and effective things they can profoundly affect their children’s lives now and in their adult lives.

Our Sessions Are Guaranteed: We believe so strongly in our approach that it’s guaranteed. You will learn new insights, perspectives and options in every individual / couples / group session or there is no charge for the session.

Length of Sessions:  Our groups and classes are 90 minutes, once a week for sixteen weeks.

Free Sessions: for referrals you make to Empowering Options.

Free Individual Session: for your birthday if you are a client of Empowering Options.

Free Supportive Educational Resources: on our website you can find newsletters on various topics to download for free; you can read our blog on a variety of subjects and you can subscribe to our new quarterly newsletters.

Running Late:  If you will be late to your group please let us know. It’s disruptive to the flow of a group or class to not know if a member will be there or not.