April 6, 2010

How to Choose the Right Self-Help Support Group

Make Connections, Get Help
If you are facing a major illness or stressful life issues, you don’t have to go it alone. A support group can help. Our article will help you to choose the right one.
A support group is a gathering of people who share a common concern, similar issues, or relationship problems. A support group usually focuses on a specific situation or condition, such as addiction, long-term caregiving, and domestic violence. 
Support groups are not the same as group therapy sessions. 
Group therapy is a formal type of mental health treatment under the guidance of a trained mental health provider. In many ways, support groups are not the same. Some groups are educational and structured. They also come in a variety of formats. 
Regardless of format, in a support group, you’ll find people with problems similar to yours. Members of a support group typically share their personal experiences and offer one another emotional comfort and moral support. 
Benefits of participating in support groups may include:
  • Feeling less lonely and isolated
  • An opportunity to talk openly and honestly about your feelings
  • A clearer understanding of what to expect with your situation
  • Learning about new medical research, getting practical advice about alternative options
  • Reduction in distress, depression or anxiety

Here are some questions to ask yourself when choosing a self-help group that will be right for your needs:

What are you looking for in a group? 
  • Emotional support? 
  • Information about the condition? 
  • Information about how to get the help you need? 
  • Access to services? 
  • People you can relate to?

Is there a contact person from the group who can respond to your inquiries and who can send you information before you attend a meeting?

Does the group have any prerequisites or requirements for attending the group?

Is the meeting place accessible to you with regard to transportation or special needs?

Is this group open to individual participation? Has mature, stable leadership, but is not controlled by one or a few dominant individuals?

Do members reach out to each other – including you – beyond meetings?

Do you feel safe after a few visits?  

It is important to attend at least two or three meetings before making a judgment about any particular group.


Domestic Violence Support Group

Vicarious Trauma Support Group
Road Trauma Support Group

Alcohol and Other Drugs  Support Group

Visit our website for more information about our groups.

1 comment:

  1. There also are a variety of local self-help support group centers In Australia and worldwide that can advise you on community support groups:

    Take care and hope,
    - Ed
    American Self-help Group Clearinghouse