Support groups have to aim to bring people together who are going through or have gone through various challenges that might left them feeling alone, abnormal and judged by others. Support groups are formed on a need that arise to connect and learn interdependently. Some common groups well known are the Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous.
However, support groups can be much more intimate and smaller in size and can aim to address people sharing the same chronic medical condition for example cancer or psychological difficulties for example bereavement and mourning the loss of a loved one, assertiveness training, social skills training and personality disorders, to name just a few.
A support group provides an opportunity for people to engage in an environment that is empathic, non-judgemental and safe as well as the opportunity to connect with people that are going through or have gone through similar experiences, share personal experiences and coping strategies and provide information about diseases, difficulties and treatments.
The advantage for some individuals of support groups are that it may fill a gap between medical treatment and the need for emotional support. The relationship with one’s treating doctor and or medical personnel, may not provide adequate or required emotional support needed. Furthermore, the individual’s family and friends may not fully understand the impact, implications, life changes and interpersonal difficulties related to certain diagnosis and the treatment there of. A support group aims to bridge the gap medical and emotional needs as well as offer an environment of relating freely.
The “common” experience amongst members of a support group, often means they have similar feelings, worries, everyday problems, treatment decisions or treatment side effects. Participating in a group provides individuals with an opportunity to be with people who are likely to have a common purpose and likely to understand one another. A support group have the goal of breaking isolation, reducing stress, depression, anxiety as well as improving coping skills and sense of control over one’s environment. If it is the support group’s need, guest speakers like doctors, specialists and social workers can be invited to enhance educational opportunities.
A support group isn’t a substitute for therapy. It is important that this form of support should be brought under treating practitioners attention.
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