Your decision to join a support group may be one of the hardest decisions that you make. But, once you find a group that fits your needs and personality, it could be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made. Joining a group is just the starting point. It’s what you do when you are in the group that has the potential to be life changing.
Here are three ways you can get the most from a support group:
A big reason people find these groups so inviting is because of the honesty that is expressed between participants. Decide from the start that you will be honest with the others in the group. When you work together to create a safe place to share stories, you begin to build a mutual trust among members.
Take the initiative to get involved in your support group. A great starting point is by reaching out to meet new people. Building a friendly rapport with those in your group is the quickest way to feel comfortable and a sense of belonging. When newcomers attend a meeting, go out of your way to make them feel welcome. The more engaged you are with the members of your group, the more you will get out of the experience.
Be a supportive listener
From the start, send the message to other members of the group that you are truly interested in them and their stories. The best way of doing that is to be an active listener. That means being attentive, making eye contact, and acknowledging points the speaker is making by nodding your head at various points. It sends a message to the speaker that you care about what that person is saying because you care about him or her.
Lean on the members of your group for support. That’s why they are there. If you work together, you can not only see your own recovery become a reality, but also play an important role in helping others heal as well.
Gary Gilles, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor