Support groups can come in varying forms and provide individuals with a group atmosphere to address addictions, mental illness, physical illness, social skills, grief, and more. They are often run by a facilitator who may be a licensed professional or a peer who has had training and experience with a certain issue. Research has found that support groups often foster strong emotional bonds that encourage a high level of sharing of emotionally-charged experiences. These social ties have been found to be important for health maintenance, helpful in providing informational support and access to health-promoting resources in the community. Social support has also been seen to buffer against stress and facilitate better self-care. A support group also provides a sense of belonging.
While doing research on group work I learned that the group approach can be more effective than the individual approach, because group members gain insight, practice new skills, and benefit from feedback and insights from other group members. The group provides a re-creation of the participants’ everyday world, particularly when the group is diverse in age, interest, background, and socio economic status. As a teen I attended a support group with my family, and while I don’t remember all the content that was addressed, I do remember I felt supported, encouraged, and less isolated. If you have any interest in attending a support group or need help finding one to match your needs I welcome you to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will do my best to find something that will work for you.