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Is It Possible To Start A Support Group?

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Sometimes people need a little support. Scratch that; sometimes people need a lot of support.

There are several situations people see around them all the time for which a support group would be useful. A lot of us will think about people with alcohol addictions. Alcohol isn’t the healthiest drink to begin with, but when you start drinking too much it can be hard to stop. Some of us will think about addictions to other drugs. There are also health problems like cancer or disabilities to consider.

Support groups aren’t present in every community, though. Perhaps you’re in this situation. Perhaps you’ve observed a problem in your community, something you have personal experience with. And now you want to help by providing people with a support group.

The good news is that this is completely possible.

The national picture

If you want to start a support group, you should research existing support groups. You may already know that there isn’t a support group for a given problem in your area. But you’ll probably find that there’s a national group that has several “satellite” groups across the country. Narcotics Anonymous is a good example. You could start a support group independently, but joining a national group can help you have a stronger presence in your community. As an example, you can check out the registration process for forming a new NA group.

The right venue

So where exactly are you going to hold these get-togethers? Many people will find that a local church is willing to rent out space for these purposes. One problem you may encounter here, though, is people assuming your support group is religious. Still, if it’s the best place for you to hold meetings, then you should go for it. You can also consider other community-based venues like a library or a hospital.

Do you need equipment?

Apart from chairs, what equipment do you really need for a support group?

After all, the basic setup of this sort of thing is that everyone sits down and talks about what they’re going through. It’s a discussion, basically. What kind of equipment would you need for such a thing? Well, there are things that could help people feel more comfortable. You could get a coffee maker and offer free coffee to attendees. Snack trays may also be useful. Then, of course, you could get “tokens” for milestones that attendees reach over the course of time. AA medallions are probably the most famous example of this.

Getting the word out

Do you know anyone else who is interested in helping others? Anyone who has personal experience with the problem you’re bringing to the table? They don’t have to be people with ongoing problems. But like-minded people may wish to help you in this endeavor. They can also help reach out to people who are currently suffering from these problems.

Professional assistance

A legitimate worry that many people have with this is that they might not know enough to help others. If you feel this way, you shouldn’t let it stop you forming a support group. However, you will probably want to seek advice. Speak to social service workers, doctors, or therapists. They’ll be able to give you advice or provide you with helpful literature

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com