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support groups & their value

Support groups offer effective treatment for a variety of life struggles

What is a support group? A support group is a gathering of people, either in person or virtually, who have a common condition, issue, or life circumstance in order to receive and offer mutual support and coping skills.

"group therapy" vs "support group": Support groups differ from psychotherapygroups, commonly referred to as “group therapy” in a number of ways. For one, a psychotherapy group is based on a clinical diagnosis as determined by the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM), whereas a support group does not require a DSM diagnosis and is instead organized around a life theme, issue, or concern. Only licensed mental health professionals can provide psychotherapy treatment, either individual or group therapy, whereas a support group may be facilitated by a professional or by peers depending upon the individual or organization hosting the group.

The Therapeutic Benefits of Support Groups

Due to the growing demand for mental health, emotional health and holistic wellness, support group models of care can effectively reach and help more people. In this generation of tele-everything, virtual support groups can be utilized to reach a significant number of people who otherwise would be limited in their ability to receive any form of treatment. Additionally, group models of treatment may be a more affordable way for clients who either lack health insurance coverage or who reside in an area with little if any access to care, to receive mental health support.

Most importantly, support groups can provide clients with communal relational support that provides participants with:

  1. the feeling that they are part of a larger community that accepts and values them for who they are.

  2. the ability to receive and offer support inspiring a feeling of empowerment and a sense of relational vitality.

  3. a pathway to evoke our innate calling towards interconnectedness and to feel part of a bigger whole.

  4. the affordability of weekly support groups which tend to be lower than the fee for an individual weekly psychotherapy session, group therapy, or a private coaching session.

Group models of treatment can also be effective in helping people who struggle with chronic medical diagnosis such as autoimmune, pre-diabetes, hypertension, obesity, chronic stress, even cancer.

Support groups have never been more important. People are significantly more lonely and isolated than ever before. It is estimated that about 40 percent of the population in the U.S. have reported feeling lonely, a situation which is correlated with a significant increase in mental and health-related issues. Support groups may provide a venue to seek out communal relational connection and support. For best results look for groups that make you feel safe, connected, validated and as if you are working towards a growth mindset.

*The base of this information comes from an article in "The Value of Support Groups"

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