WHAT IS A SUPPORT GROUP?
A support group is a group of people with a similar challenge who share experiences and extend and receive support. Groups provide an opportunity to connect, learn, and strengthen relationships and are a safe place to talk about your circumstances with others who know how you feel and won’t judge you.
Support groups can be peer-led or led by mental health professionals. Facilitators have training, but they don’t give advice or act as professionals.
The format can be virtual or in-person, drop-in or run for a series of weeks. Some are educational while others are opportunities to share and learn from peers.
Support groups differ from group therapy... the goal of group therapy is to help members change while support groups are to help members manage challenges.
All groups stress confidentiality where everything shared stays within the group. (Some facilitators may be mandated reporters which means they are legally required to report abuse, or threats of imminent physical harm to self or others.)
Support groups do not replace therapy.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A SUPPORT GROUP?
Participants grow through shared experiences and get information that’s practical and constructive.
Hearing from others facing similar challenges can help participants feel less alone, provides a sense of hope, and is an opportunity to gain valuable insight from those who are in different stages of their journey.
Members learn better coping strategies, how to set boundaries and focus on their own self-care in order to manage stress and build resiliency.
Other benefits include...
- Reduce depression, anxiety, or fatigue
- Opportunity to talk openly and honestly about your feelings and experience.
- Learn new tools and skills to cope with the challenges.
- Stay motivated to manage treatment plans or processes.
- Feel empowered to overcome and manage the issue.
- Improve your understanding which helps manage your expectations.
- Can provide emotional support.
Why participate in a group?
- Would you like to feel more empowered in your parenting?
- Are you overwhelmed by your child's behaviors and not sure what to do?
- Does everything feel like a power struggle when you engage with your child?
- Is it hard to connect with your teen?
- Is it hard to find ways to set boundaries or motivate your child without arguments?
- Are you worried about saying the wrong thing or setting boundaries because your child is struggling and you don't want to make things worse?
- Are you able to tend to the self-care that is necessary for your own well-being?
- Raising children and balancing their needs with your own can feel impossible.
- Parenting can bring up feelings of self-doubt and fears of failure.
HOW DO YOU GET THE MOST OUT OF A GROUP?
Attend regularly. It helps you get to know other group members and feel more comfortable. Participate in discussions - people are there to support, not judge.
Be sensitive to others in the group.
Trust yourself to recognize when a group isn’t the right fit and know you can always try a different group. Group dynamics can change when people join and leave groups.
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN JOINING...
- Is there a facilitator or moderator?
Has the facilitator undergone training?
Is a mental health expert involved with the group?
- What are the guidelines for confidentiality?
Are there established ground rules for group participation?
- Is this an ongoing drop-in group or does it run for a set period of time?
What days/times does it meet?
- What is the makeup of other members of the group?
- Is there a fee to attend the group?
- What is a typical meeting like?
- Is it free, and if not, what are the fees?