About support groups

What is a support group?

In a support group people that go trough similar experiences meet and together they talk about what bothers them, what makes them happy, what is happening inside of them. Members of the group provides themselves with feedback and support in expressing their feelings, stands, opinions related to what someone says or does. At the same time these interactions provide the group members with the opportunity to learn more about oneself, about the way how they communicate with others, how do they affect other people, what do they evoke in them. Apart the group members themselves a facilitator assists this process. The uniqueness of a support group lies also in its safe and non-judging environment. What is discussed in the group is secret and the group members don't talk about it outside the group. Group members getting to know each other gradually, become close and build a level of trust that enables them to create more persona, deeper and more honest relationships.

Why does it work?

When people come to the group and are in an open, free and relaxed contact with other members, they are usually able to transform difficulties that brought them to the group. At the same time they find about and it is encouraging to hear that also others have similar problems, that one is not alone, not totally different from others and that also others can understand him or her. In an atmosphere of trust that is being created in the group, the people feel free and it is natural for them to care for others and help each other. Suspended emotions are one of the main reasons why people have difficulties. Talking about oneself in a safe and supporting environment is therefore an important part of the group work.

To become a part of such group can become a source of personal growth for you. The group communicates personal and interpersonal challenges but you can also meet there people that will help you to change the perspective on many things - on oneself, interpersonal relations and so on. Understanding and support gained trough the group experience can in great extent enhance your life.

Myths about support groups

"They will make me to talk about my deepest thoughts, feelings and secrets".

It is only up to you what are you going to talk about, in what depth and when. Most people figure out that when they feel safe enough to talk about what bothers them, the group can be very helpful for them. Don't talk about what you are not ready to talk about. Equally enhancing can be listening to others and thinking about what they say relate to you.

"It will take me longer to make some progress in a group because I will have to share time with others".

The advantage of a support group is that they are effective even during sessions when you say little and just listen to others. People that may seem at the first sight as completely different, may be bothered by very similar things than you. It means that during the time someone other from the group works on what bothers them, you can find out much about yourself. The group members often bring emotionally strong contents you haven't been aware of before or you wouldn't bring yourself.

"It is very hard for me to talk with people therefore I will never be able to talk in group about my issues, problems".

Many people feel anxious about being able to talk in a group. A support group's asset is that many different personalities, experiences and methods of coping problematic situations applied by its members meet in it. Strengths of some members may serve as inspiration for those people in the group still looking for their own strength. The atmosphere of trust and solidarity gradually built in the group, is in most cases motivating also for people that take longer to share their feelings and stories with the group.

"I am afraid that I will be verbally attacked by the facilitator and other members of the group".

It is very important that the group members feel safe. The facilitator, who is a "role model" to some extent, participates in building of safe environment. If you learn to accept other members also your ability to accept their feedback improves. If you manage to trust the people in the group, it is more likely that you won't see the feedback as a threat, but on the contrary, as an effort to help. It is rare to find someone who sensibly points out how your behaviour can be hurtful for yourself and others. In everyday life we have rarely time to pay attention to others. Many reasons prevents us from sensitively talking about our feelings and impressions that can be constructive or anyhow helpful for others. This is precisely one of the things the group can offer you.

Contact

If you want to join any of the support group, please, contact me:

Mgr. Katy Franeková
katarina.franekova@qcentrum.sk

Support groups

  • for people going trough coming out
  • for transgender people
  • for parents and close ones of LGBT people