It’s natural to want to reach out to friends and family when you are going through a personal struggle. But sometimes you need a little more support from those outside of your circle. Being a part of a support group may give you the guidance and comfort you need during a difficult time.
What is a Support Group and How do They Work?
A support group is a collection of people who come together to share experiences and feelings around a specific topic. These groups normally gather in places such as hospitals, churches or a counseling center. Most are lead by a professional who directs the discussion.
Where to Start
There are a variety of groups available, but most cannot be found with a simple online search. It may help to speak with a health professional such as your doctor or a counselor. Discuss with them your needs and your feelings. They can provide you with the resources to help you find a local group.
Visit Multiple Groups
There is no one size fits all when it comes to support groups. Do not get frustrated if you did not find the right group after the first visit. It takes time to build trust and feel comfortable around people you do not know. You may learn you feel more comfortable in a religious setting such as a church or one that is non denominational. Keep trying if you do not find the right group at first. Eventually, you will meet the right people who share your story.
The right support group will not make you feel obligated to participate. However, sharing your thoughts and feelings is part of the healing process. Remember, while some in the group may be further along in their journey, their main purpose is to help and provide comfort. Opening up and sharing your story may help lessen the feelings of sadness, isolation and loneliness you are experiencing.
Make it a Routine
Just because you attend a few sessions doesn’t mean that you are healed. While you may feel you have gotten some things off your chest, there may be underlying feelings that you need to confront and examine. There is no timetable on attending a support group, but with regular attendance, you will be on the road to closure.
Joining a support group is one of the best things to help you cope with a difficult situation. Sharing your story with others will give you solace in knowing you are not alone in this journey.
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