Some may ask, “How can I benefit from joining a support group?” The benefits of joining a support group are many, especially if you’ve selected the right support group for you.
At one time or another, we all need a shoulder to lean on or someone to turn to when the going gets rough. Those times are when we can most benefit from a support group. There are many things to consider, however, when selecting the right support group for you.
Benefits of joining the right support group
- Emotional Support: Stressful situations in our lives take a toll on our emotions. No matter what the situation might be, having the camaraderie and support of others who have walked in our shoes and shared the same experiences can help us feel less isolated and make the load easier to bear.
- Encouragement: When we’re down and out and ready to give up, others who understand can give the kind of support and encouragement that gives us the strength to go on.
- Information: A support group can provide a variety of information to help us better understand our condition or situation. Members of the group may also share techniques and coping skills to make day-to-day living easier.
- Giving Back: We feel better about our own situation when we actively participate in a support group and are helping others.
Types of Support Groups
At a location:
Led by professionals: These groups are led by professionals like physicians, social workers, and counselor and frequently require pre-registration.
Led by lay people: Volunteers passionate about certain conditions, situations and causes come together to form self-help groups.
These types of support groups are not bound by location or time constraints; still they offer support, information and advice.
- Telephone support groups
- Internet support groups
Consider these when looking for a support group
Group type: Does a structured or non-structured group better fit your needs at the moment?
Affiliation: Is the support group affiliated with a national organization?
Location: How convenient is the location of the group meetings? Perhaps a support group that lets you be at home works best in your particular situation. Sometimes joining a group that gets you out mingling with others is better.
Meeting frequency & duration: Does the group meet often enough for your needs?
Age group: Can you relate to the members of the group on an age level?
Content and format of meetings: Do meetings supply the kind of information you need in a format that fits your comfort level?
Membership fee: Does the membership fee fit your budget?
Rules & Expectations: Are you comfortable with rules and expectations placed upon each member? Does the group offer different levels of participation?
Other members: Do you like and feel comfortable with sharing your personal situation with the leaders and other participants in the group.
How to find a support group
- Search through local newspapers’ community listings.
- Check with your doctor or hospital.
- Ask a health professional or community worker you know and trust.
- Inquire through a religious organization.
- Do an internet search.
- Talk to others with the same problem.
- Check with the local self-help resource center.
- Read through newsletters or magazines on topics related to your issue or condition.
- Speak to others who have been members of similar support groups.
Taking time to locate the right support group can make a difference
The right support group helps us feel safe, supported, and understood, in addition to supplying us with information and skills to help cope. The time it takes to find the right support group is worth it! A support group can, surely, make a difference and is far better than trying to weather the storm alone.