Support Groups: Connecting with others when you need it the most

Support Groups: Connecting with others when you need it the most

May 31, 2017 11:33 AM EDT - Author: Amber

 

If you're facing a major illness or stressful life change, you don't have to go it alone. A support group can help. Find out how to choose the right one.

Support groups bring together people facing similar issues, whether that's illness, relationship problems or major life changes. Members of support groups often share experiences and advice. It can be helpful just getting to talk with other people who are in the same situation.

While not everyone wants, or needs support beyond that offered by family and friends, you may find it helpful to turn to others outside your immediate circle. A support group can help you cope better and feel less isolated as you make connections with others facing similar challenges. A support group shouldn't replace your standard medical care, but it can be a valuable resource to help you cope.

Understanding support groups

A support group is a gathering of people who share a common health concern or interest. A support group usually focuses on a specific situation or condition, such as breast cancer, diabetes, heart disease, addiction or long-term caregiving, for example.

Support groups are not the same as group therapy sessions. Group therapy is a formal type of mental health treatment that brings together several people with similar conditions under the guidance of a trained mental health provider.

Support groups may be formed by a person with the condition or by someone interested in it, such as a family member. In some cases, support groups may be formed by nonprofit organizations, advocacy organizations, mental health clinics or other organizations.

Support groups also come in a variety of formats, including in person, on the Internet or by telephone. They may be led by professional facilitators — such as a nurse, social worker or psychologist — or by group members.

Some groups are educational and structured. For example, the group leader may invite a doctor, psychologist, nurse or social worker to talk about a topic related to the group's needs. Other support groups emphasize emotional support and shared experiences.

Benefits of support groups

Regardless of format, in a support group, you'll find people with problems similar to yours. Members of a support group usually share their personal experiences and offer one another emotional comfort and moral support. They may also offer practical advice and tips to help you cope with your situation.

Benefits of participating in support groups may include:

  • Feeling less lonely, isolated or judged
  • Gaining a sense of empowerment and control
  • Improving your coping skills and sense of adjustment
  • Talking openly and honestly about your feelings
  • Reducing distress, depression, anxiety or fatigue
  • Developing a clearer understanding of what to expect with your situation
  • Getting practical advice or information about treatment options
  • Comparing notes about resources, such as doctors and alternative options

Getting the most out of a support group

When you join a new support group, you may be nervous about sharing personal issues with people you don't know. So, at first, you may benefit from simply listening. Over time, though, contributing your own ideas and experiences can help you get more out of a support group.

But remember that support groups aren't a substitute for regular medical care. Let your doctor know that you're participating in a support group. If you don't think a support group is appropriate for you, but you need help coping with your condition or situation, talk to your doctor about counseling or other types of therapy.

Join our support group

Optimum Clinical Research has a support group for patients with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). Living with COPD can be debilitating for the patients and their families. As a research site, we get to see this first hand. That made us want to give back not only to our patients but to anyone with COPD. This support group is here to answer questions and be a sounding board for patients and their families. We are using our 30 years of experience in COPD research studies to provide tips to living with COPD. Connect with others, sharing ideas and experiences.

To join visit our page: https://www.facebook.com/copdsupportutah/

Until Next Time

K.

 

 


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