Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Building A Self Help Support Group - Support

1.  See if your group already exists.  Use the suggestions in this site covering ways to find a self-help group to determine for sure whether or not the group you want already exists.  (Click here to link to that page.) This is a no-lose proposition.  If you visit a group and find what you are looking for, hey, you don't have to start your own group.  If that group does not provide what you want, or if you feel that another group would be appropriate for your area, you can learn from what you see there; the members may even be available to help start and make referrals to your new group. 

2.  Work with others from the get-go.  If you start the group alone, it will likely forever be identified by members as "your" group.  You then have the pleasure of doing all the work and often figuring out why so few people attend.  If you as "founder" of the group identify a few others as "leaders" and all of you start the group, you then have a group started where every member feels some ownership of the group and is invested in its success. In addition, as new folks join, they are more likely to recognize that it is important for every member to make some contribution to the group.

3.  Talk with others who have done what you want to do.  The old phrase is "Don't re-invent the wheel."  In our experience the most valuable person to contact is someone who has founded and hopefully led a group very similar to yours.  Be sure to ask for ideas that have worked, as well as things they did which bombed!

4. Start small (you know, the old Keep It Simple and Stupid principle).  This will give you a chance to work out the bugs, make some mistakes, and generally get things in order before you do your marketing to the general public.


Internet Resources

Faking Pain and Suffering in Support Groups on the Internet.    This isn't discussed very often, but is an important consideration.  As Bill Cosby used to say about the New York subways, "There's a nut in every car."   (This link is outdated; we are researching a new source.)

Starting any type of local support group.
This brief excerpt from the Self-Help Sourcebook OnLine by Ed Madara and Barbara White is an excellent 5 minute primer on start any type of group. 

Comfort and Support Are Just A Dial Tone Away (Information on Telephone Conference Support Groups.  This brief on-line pamphlet describes the basics of one free or low cost telephone system sponsored by grants to SupportWorks.  The system is available to individuals and any nonprofit organization.  It does not go into detail regarding how to start a group (see print pamphlet above). 

Starting an OnLine Self-Help Group. (URL:
Starting a New OnLine Support Group.  (URL: 
Two quick-to-read essays covering the basics of starting an on-line support system.  The first is from the ever-popular  Self-Help Sourcebook OnLine and the second is from Dr. John Grohol's Mental Health Page(s).  The latter is a bit more detailed; both are well-written and helpful.

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