There are more than 500,000 support groups serving people in the United States.
A support group doesn’t have to be for someone at rock bottom – you can just attend for some extra help. Think of it as an additional route to better self-care.
Do you think a support group could be right for you, but you’re not ready to take the plunge?
If you want to learn the benefits of support groups before choosing the perfect group for you, keep reading below.
What Is a Support Group?
A support group is simply a group of people with shared experiences that want to talk about feelings, coping strategies, or general information.
Support groups are not the same as group therapy. Instead of being led by a counselor, support groups are generally led by a peer. They can also be offered independently or through an organization, such as a hospital or non-profit agency.
You can find both in-person or online support groups to attend. If you live somewhere that is more rural or have trouble leaving the house, an online support group is a great way to still reap many of the same benefits in-person groups would have.
It can be scary to start out in a new support group if you’ve never done it before, but knowing that you’re with others that have had similar issues or experiences in the past makes it easier.
Characteristics of a Healthy Support Group
There are many benefits of effective support groups and this is part of the reason that they are so popular.
In a support group, you will find that people understand each other. The group should be small enough that everyone has the chance to talk about what they are thinking and feeling, which helps to encourage that overall support.
Someone with mental health training or a volunteer that has knowledge of leading a group should facilitate the discussions. This helps to encourage group members to stay on-topic and make the best use of the time available.
Signs that you are in a healthy support group include:
- You are comfortable expressing yourself
- The group provides members with a sense of hope
- The group has general ground rules
- You feel less isolated and alone
- You feel encouraged to continue attending the group
- The group has a level of confidentiality
- The group is willing to meet on a regular schedule
- You are able to learn about your own coping style
- You feel like others in the group understand you
While you don’t have to spill your soul in support group sessions, you will need to talk to get something out of the experience. As you get to know others in the group, you will feel more comfortable and have a better grasp of the support group benefits available.
Consider These Benefits of Support Groups
If you feel hopeless and alone, know that you’re not the only person feeling that way.
Whether you’re not ready for therapy or are unable to afford it, support groups are there to lift you up. Check out one near you or online and reap the benefits of support groups today!
Are you interested in more topics related to overall health and wellness? If so, check out our Health section and find out more about what you can do to improve your livelihood.