Support Group Benefits
- You might need to develop new coping mechanisms as you face difficult situations. In a support group, you can pick up coping mechanisms from those who have used them successfully themselves. You might pick up advice on how to meditate, keep a journal, or think of things. You might learn new approaches to establishing sound boundaries and improving your performance.
- A support group offers you the chance to air your feelings. Sharing your personal experiences with the group will make you feel less alone and emotionally burdened. You can learn a lot about how others handle similar circumstances as they share their experiences with the group.
Participants in support groups may share their creative suggestions with you on how to look after yourself, handle stress, fight weariness, and feel more mentally and physically strong.
- Being with the other members of your support group can improve your attitude and optimism, giving you the emotional fortitude to genuinely imagine a brighter future.
Support Group Guidelines
- The general rule for support groups is that group members are prohibited from disclosing anything that is shared in the meetings. This includes divulging the identity of members who were present. Confidentiality also extends to the personal data of the members. If collected, their names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses must be protected. Some members may be comfortable sharing their contact information, but this should always be left to their discretion. The group also needs to discuss what will happen if confidentiality is breached.
- A member expressing intent to harm themselves or others and Suspected child abuse or neglect and Suspected elder abuse or neglect and suspected abuse of a disabled individual.
Based on the nature of support groups, many possibilities exist for individuals to become triggered or feel unsafe. Clear support group guidelines about what can and cannot be said or done in meetings will aid the facilitator in maintaining a positive atmosphere. These guidelines may address restrictions on providing graphic descriptions or “war stories”, being in possession of weapons and members who come to the group under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs.
- It is imperative for everyone to understand the expectations for respect and personal responsibility. These guidelines address common courtesies. Listening without interrupting § Avoiding personal or side conversations during the meeting § Acceptance of differences (including social, cultural, linguistic differences or where an individual is in their recovery journey) § Respecting each other’s opinions Refraining from judging people § Using first-person language (“I” statements) § Sharing the group’s time so that everyone who wishes to share get an opportunity to do so
- Members can also participate in identifying guidelines they feel would benefit the group.
- Together, these guiding principles are sometimes referred to as the group’s “Comfort Agreement” and may address areas such as:
- Clarifying the role of the facilitator(s)
- Starting and ending time for meetings
- Cell phone use in the meeting room
- Taking breaks
- Attendance expectations (if applicable)
- Taking notes during meetings
- Understandings reached about giving and receiving support, instructions or advice.