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03/28/2012 05:30 AM

~~Support Groups~~

SillyOMePosts: 21588
VIP Member

Definition of SUPPORT GROUP

: a group of people with common experiences and concerns who provide emotional and moral support for one another


A support group is not a therapy group. A support group is an often organized group of individuals who share a common experience. The may meet weekly or less often, such as monthly or quarterly.

These groups are not generally run by a therapist, and often are simply facilitated by a member of the group. The focus is on supportive communication and meeting, by not on resolution of the deeper issues.

Support groups can be very positive experiences. However it is possible that deeper issues may be triggered, especially for those with Borderline Personality Disorder. It is therefore important that involvement in support groups be discussed with a trained therapist.

Support groups are an informal resource that attempts to provide healing components to a variety of problems and challenges. An informal support outside of family, friends, or professionals often provides greater understanding, more similarity (from individuals experiencing similar life events), an opportunity for empathy and altruism, and a sense of identity for participants. Learning new ways to handle challenges, cope with changes, and maintain new behaviors are all important aspects of the support group experience.

A characteristic unique to support groups is the mutual support members are able to provide one another. This support and validation from other group members help facilitate personal growth and change in a way that individual therapy cannot. Although experts and professionals can provide support and positive direction, the mutual exchange of information between group members is a powerful experience that often induces lasting change.

Read more: Support groups - children, functioning, therapy, adults, person, people, medication, skills groups.html#ixzz1qPhMkxX4

Open format means that the groups are ongoing, and members have the option of attending when it is convenient for them. This is in contrast to other types of structured treatment or psycho-educational groups that may meet for a certain number of sessions, with the expectation that participants attend every meeting. The open format allows members to feel some degree of anonymity, and to participate as they are comfortable. For some people, simply attending meetings and listening to the experiences of others can be helpful.

The healing power of groups is well documented, and support groups offer many of the same therapeutic characteristics as more structured groups. These factors include: altruism (chance to help others), belongingness, universality (there are others who struggle with similar challenges), interpersonal learning, guidance, catharsis, identification, self-understanding, instillation of hope, and existential factors (such as the search for larger meaning in life). Each of these factors is directly related to the mutual support that members provide one another.

Support groups are generally less structured than psycho-educational groups or therapy groups; however, each group usually sets its own norms, rules, and schedules. Some groups, such as AA, traditionally reserve time for individual members to discuss their own challenges and progress in front of the group. Others bring in speakers periodically to provide information about disorders or specific coping skills. However, the strength of support groups lies in its members, and their willingness to share their own experiences, challenges, and solutions in the context of the group.

In addition to these traditional, face-to-face support groups, technology has had an impact on the functioning and availability of support groups. There are many list-serves, e-mail groups, and chat groups that provide information about specific life problems (adoption of children outside the United States, for example), certain types of mental illness, and specific health problems. While there is always the risk of communicating with others who are not honest, many people benefit from these Internet interactions. Some individuals are actually more comfortable participating in Internet support groups due to the greater anonymity they offer.

There are a variety of problems and challenges that are addressed in support groups. Generally speaking, the severity of the symptom, as well as the phase of the illness or disorder, will determine whether participation in a support group is appropriate. For more severe types of mental illness, such as schizophrenia , or depression with psychotic episodes, a support group is probably not the optimal intervention , particularly at initial onset. After stabilization through therapy and medication (as appropriate), a support group may offer an important addition to more formal treatment. In these cases, the socialization, interpersonal relationships, and social support that can be gained through the group may not be available elsewhere, and as such, it can be a very positive experience for the participant. In a group situation, a participant can learn how to express feelings in a healthy and positive way, practice assertive communication, receive feedback about appropriate and inappropriate content for conversation, receive feedback about nonverbal communication, learn new ways to ask for help from others, be able to help others, learn how to form friendships, and learn new coping skills and behaviors.


Group experiences can be very powerful in changing behavior and maintaining that change. The support group becomes part of the individual's daily life, and promotes healthy functioning by providing reminders about change and support when he or she is feeling down or is drawn toward old patterns. It also provides opportunities to own one's change by helping others. These factors contribute to the positive prognosis for most who participate in a group experience. However, a person could be harmed by a group experience as well. Much of this risk is dependent on the characteristics of individual members, particularly in support groups that operate without professional guidance. For example, if certain individuals dominate the group with their own agenda, perhaps at the expense of other group members, then the experience may have a negative impact on more vulnerable individuals.

Read more: Support groups - children, functioning, therapy, adults, person, people, medication, skills groups.html#ixzz1qPiExytV


03/28/2012 07:36 AM
lu1063Posts: 313

Thank you Silly. This was very informative.

03/28/2012 07:48 AM
Posts: 4770
VIP Member

Wow, Silly! You have done your homework! Awesome article

03/28/2012 10:01 AM
Posts: 11820
Group Leader

thanks Silly... great info Smile

03/28/2012 10:26 AM
SillyOMePosts: 21588
VIP Member

Thanks guys.. glad you read it. I hope everyone does. Those dvds This Emotional Life touched on the fact that happiness is controlled by our relationships as well as other things. This Support Group and the people contribute to that. It can be very important to establish relationships with "kindred spirits".

03/28/2012 11:58 AM
Posts: 5144
VIP Member

Cool thread Silly.....i was at an AA meeting one time when..... the coffee pot broke ! about anarchy Laughing few !....that was the definition of a support group ! Laughing

03/28/2012 01:15 PM

Well Silly once again you have given me a ray of hope in the storms of my life at this moment in time.

Think I might have to print that out and put it in my little notebook of Agor help!!!

Support WoW what a powerful word huh?

I thank you for your wonderful support and fun ways of making or helping us all look at this issue in your own special way. "I get it"

I have come to understand much more not just about this issue with agor but with others as well and how we all are so different but then again the same.

Just like a field of wild flowers:they all may look different but they all have one thing in common...They are wild flowers.

So just like all the flowers in my yard(which are many)they all need my support to continue to live.

So like us we all need each other in one way or another and the common denomintator is


We've all been told at one time or another to get a life and get over it but we don't say that here as we have all walked that fine line and sometimes miss a step and fall off.

Is that like coloring outside the lines? LOL

I enjoyed this post so much today as like my favorite comdeian "Glida Radnor" said "it's always something"


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