Wednesday, November 28, 2012

How To Start A Support Group - 7 Steps

Basic suggestions for starting any type of community mutual aid support group, to pool the collective experiences, coping skills, insights, and knowledge of others "who have been there." Learn how to do it, so it's not all on your shoulders, but "mutual help from the start."



  1. 1

    If at all possible, Don't "Re-invent the Wheel." Chances are that at least one national group, focused on your particular concern, already exists. Find out by researching it. To find any existing national group, check the free keyword-searchable database of the American Self-Help Group Clearinghouse. Obtain any how-to guide, or group starter kit, that the national organization offers (many provide them free online). If there's no national group, see if your search results revealed any "model group" elsewhere in the world, which you can contact and duplicate in your area.

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  2. 2

    Think "Mutual-Help" From the Start. Find a few others who share your interest in starting a group by circulating a flyer or letter that specifically cites how if one is interested in "joining with others to help start" such a group, they can contact you. Include your first name, phone number, and any other relevant information. Make copies and post them at places you feel are appropriate, e.g., at local community website, library, community center, clinic, or post office. Mail copies to key people who you think would know others like yourself. Submit your notice to newspapers and church bulletins. Also, check to see if there is any local "self-help group clearinghouse" serving your area to help you.

  3. 3

    Consider obtaining the assistance of any professionals who may be sensitive to your needs and are willing to assist you in your efforts. Social service workers, clergy, physicians and others may be helpful in various ways, from providing referrals or meeting space to locating other needed resources.

  4. 4

    Find a Suitable Meeting Place and Time. Try to obtain free or very low cost meeting space at a local church, library, community center, hospital, or social service agency. Chairs should be arranged in a circle and avoid a lecture set-up.

  5. 5

    With the help of your "core group of co-founders," discuss and draft a group purpose or mission statement, and a name for your group. Share these at your first meeting for additional feedback and ideas from members, before deciding.

  6. 6

    With your core group, Publicize and Run your First Public Meeting. Permit ample time for you and other core group members to describe your interest and work, while allowing others the opportunity to share their view of what they would like to see the support group do. Identify common needs the group can address. Make plans for the next meeting, and consider providing an opportunity for people to be talk and socialize informally after the meeting.

  7. 7

    Continue to share and delegate the work and responsibilities in the group. Who will be phone contact persons for the group? Do you want officers? Consider additional roles members can play in making the group work.

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