Sometimes we need more support than what individual services can provide us. Or we may feel more comfortable sharing our ideas and talking about difficult topics with a group of people. We know that group services can be very helpful towards feeling a sense of connection and belonging, and also help with validation and empathy. Combined, groups can help reduce depression, anxiety, and social isolation, while providing new relationships and support. However, finding a group that is open, accepting, and one that creates a safe and supportive environment can be difficult. Finally, it’s important to remember that participating in a group requires disclosure, maturity, and the ability to accept feedback while maintaining strict confidence.
There are a number of different types of groups that may be of benefit. Here are some guidelines to help you get the most from a group.
Open vs closed groups: open groups allow for any member to join, and typically at any time, whereas closed groups may be limited to a specific population or need (e.g., LGBTQIA, people with depression).
Advocacy-focused: groups that promote a social justice or awareness cause, such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), or the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA).
Resource: group that focuses on a specific need an provides information to address or resolve it, such as a housing, finances, or transportation.
Process/Support: group that allows for check-ins and open dialogue. These types of groups may have a theme or topic for the group.
Skills-based: group that educates and reinforces specific learning on a topic, such as a trauma recovery, anger management, or a social anxiety group. Typically, these groups have a curriculum or manual that is followed.
12-step: groups that facilitate addiction recovery (e.g., substances, overeating).