Joining a Support Group: Get Help and Make Connections

Joining a Support Group: Get Help and Make Connections
September 21 09:44 2019

If you are facing a severe illness or every stressful life change, you do not have to face it alone. A good support group can be beneficial. To find out how to choose the right one, you need to read this article. Support groups can bring people together who have gone through or going through similar experiences.

For example, the common ground could be chronic medical conditions, cancer, substance addiction, caregiving or bereavement. They provide an opportunity for a lot of people to share their personal feelings and experiences, firsthand information or coping strategies about diseases and treatments.

For a lot of people, health-related support groups can fill the gap between the need for emotional support and medical treatment. A person’s relationship with their physician or other medical personnel like nurses and hospital technicians may not provide the needed emotional support.

Their friends and family may not understand what they are experiencing or the impact of the disease or treatment in their life. A support organization with people that have the same experience with the patient can function as a bridge between emotional and medical needs.

Support group structure

Support organizations usually are offered by a nonprofit organization, clinics, community organizations or hospitals. It can also be an independent organization run by members. Formats of these organizations vary, including teleconferences, online communities, face-to-face meetings, or in today’s digital age, social media forums.

A lay person, or someone who has shared or shares the group’s shared experience, usually leads the support organization, but it can also be conducted by professional facilitators, like psychologists, social workers or licensed nurses. Some of these organizations can offer educational opportunities like having a guest psychologist, doctor, social worker or nurses about the related topic that is necessary for the organization.

A support group is not the same as therapy sessions. The former is a specific kind of mental health treatment that helps bring people together that has the same conditions under the guidance of a licensed professional or mental health care provider.

To find out more about different types of mental health treatment, you can check out https://www.psychguides.com/mental-health-disorders/treatment/types.

The advantages of having a support group

Considered as the most common experience among members usually means that they have the same feelings, everyday problems, worries, side effects of the treatment or treatment decisions. Participating in these sessions will provide people with the opportunity to be with other people who are most likely to have the same purpose in life and the understands one another. Listed below are some of the advantages of having a support organization.

Feeling less isolated judged or lonely

Reducing depression, distress, fatigue and anxiety

Talking honestly and openly about people’s feelings

Improve the skills to cope up with different challenges

Stay motivated to manage any chronic conditions, as well as stick the treatment plan

Gain a sense of control, hope and empowerment

Improve the understanding of the person’s disease and their own experience with that disease

Getting practical feedback about different treatment options

Learning about economic, social and health resources

Possible risk of joining a support group

These types of sessions have drawbacks, and they generally depend on the professional facilitator to help them steer away from the problem. These problems may include:

A disruptive member or members

A conversation that will be dominated by griping and whining

There will be a lack of confidentiality

Tension, interpersonal conflicts or emotional entanglement

Unsound or inappropriate medical advice

Competitive comparisons of whose experience or condition is a lot worse

Pros and cons of an online support group

Support organizations on the Internet offer advantages and risks that are particular to that kind of format. It is crucial to consider the factors before joining these types of groups.

Advantages of these kinds of organizations include:

More flexible or frequent participation

Opportunities for patients who may not have face-to-face support in their area

A degree of anonymity or privacy

The risks of joining online support organizations may include:

All the communication can only be written through text, and it can lead to confusion and misunderstanding among the members

Anonymity can lead to disrespectful or inappropriate behaviors or comments

Online participation can result in isolation from friends and family

Online communities can be susceptible to information overload or misinformation

People can use the Internet to prey on people, commit fraud and promote products

Finding the right support group

Details about these kinds of organizations can be available for these platforms:

Clinics, hospitals or your family doctors

Nonprofit organizations that promote or support particular life changes or medical conditions

National Institute of Health or NIH websites for specific conditions and diseases

To know more about National Institute of Health, click here.

Questions you need to ask before joining a particular support group

These types of groups differ in how they are led and organized. Before you join a session, you need to ask these questions:

Is the group created for people with specific stages of the disease or certain medical conditions?

Do these associations meet for some time, or do they continue indefinitely?

Where do they usually meet?

How often do they meet and what time?

Is there a professional moderator or facilitator?

Has the moderator or facilitator undergone different training?

What are the rules and regulations for confidentiality?

Are there established rules and regulations for participating in the group

What is the usual meeting looks like?

Is joining these sessions free? If not, how much is the fee?

When you are joining a new support group, you may feel a little bit nervous about sharing experiences and personal problems with people that you do not know. At first, you may benefit from it by just listening. As you attend more sessions, contributing your own experiences and ideas can help people, especially yourself, to get more out of the group.

Try joining for a couple of weeks. If it does not feel right or a good fit for you, make sure to consider a different organizations or format. You need to remember that these types of club or society are not a substitute for medical care. Let your physician know that you are participating in one. If you do not think that it is not suitable for you, but you need a lot of help coping with your situation or condition, you can talk to your physician about therapy or other kinds of counseling.

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