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The Benefits of Group Support

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).

Group types:

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).