Sometimes, a counselor will recommend joining a support group, and people may be hesitant about doing so. In TV shows and movies, support groups are often portrayed either negatively or comically, making it seem like participating in a group would be a waste of time.
Actually, the right support group can make the counseling process more effective. It’s one thing to hear advice from a professional, and another to listen to someone who has dealt with the same challenges you’re facing. Most of us think we’re the only ones who feel the way we do, and it can be reassuring to hear similar thoughts from others.
It’s easy to feel alone in the world, but support groups are a powerful reminder that other people feel that way from time to time. They provide an opportunity to speak frankly about your situation among others who understand how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking. Often, well-meaning friends and family members who don’t really understand make well-intentioned efforts to help, but only make things worse (like telling you “just cheer up” when you confess to feeling depressed). People in a support group get it. They truly understand how you feel and why you feel that way.
One of the biggest benefits of a support group is learning about how others cope with similar challenges. Someone else may have developed a coping mechanism that works well, giving you the motivation to try the same. Or they may tell you that it didn’t work for them. You should be able to learn something worthwhile from everyone in the room.
Support groups are generally made up of people who are at different stages in dealing with their challenges. You may have just learned about steps you can take, but the person sitting next to you is a year down the same path. She can reassure you that the steps really do work, and tell you what to do if you struggle along the way. And, as time goes on, you’ll probably find yourself becoming a source of advice for newer participants, and that can boost your own confidence.
Most of all, a support group is a place of safety where you can talk without having to worry about being judged for what you say or who you are. Everyone is in the room for the same reason: to get better at dealing with whatever challenge you face.
Is a support group a good option for you? Your counselor will be able to offer you more insight and recommend groups that may be available and we have several groups available too!
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