Row of birds on a branch

What does attuned or attunement mean?

Date added: 30/03/23

We in Attuned Programmes Ireland often get asked what does attuned mean? In addition to being our organisational name, attunement is also one of our organisational values.

The word attuned and its first known use was in 1760, defined as:



at·?tuned ?-?tünd  
aware of and attentive or responsive to something
Some more recent definitions include:

1. Attuned – what does it mean?? to be/become attuned to something - to be or become familiar with the way someone thinks or behaves so that you can appropriately react to them.

2. Being attuned involves being with and responding to another person in a harmonious way.

Attunement, what is it?

Attunement is being aware of and responding to another person’s emotions and is the process by which we form close relationships. That essential component allows us to feel close and connected to others.

Some experts believe attunement involves activating the brain's mirror neurons which are thought to be the network in the brain that respond to other people's emotions and actions as if they were our own, helping people bond and form relationships with one another.

To be emotionally attuned, you have to practice being completely present in that moment and listening to others. That means focusing on the person, watching their facial expression, feeling the emotion in their voice as they speak, and actively listening to their words.

To best understand the term attunement, think of the phrase “in tune with.” Attunement is being aware of and responsive to another person’s emotions and/or needs. In some way, if a person is attuned to another, this sensing of emotions and needs can almost be predictive: the person is known so well that their response can be anticipated, understood, and supported.

In Attuned Programmes Ireland, our values, mission and vision aim to attune each service, team and home to our young people through a strong emphasis on relationships, connections, consistency, openness, safety and meeting them where they are at and never giving up on them.  

Elaine Currie 




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