Support groups bring people together in order to provide encouragement, talk about their feelings, share their experiences, listen to each other’s stories and offer practical information. Support groups often focus on dealing with, or supporting someone with a specific condition. There are many support groups for autism. Some autism support groups target the specific needs of the different members of the . Groups can target different disability levels on the spectrum, from minor behavioral disorders to more severe conditions.
What Types of Support Groups Are There?
Support groups can be formed in a variety of ways. The majority of support groups are in-person sessions, where people can get a more thorough support and gain strength through personally seeing and meeting the other members of the group. However, advanced technology is offering new ways to hold support groups, including online chat, telephone and webcam technologies, such as Skype.
Support Group Essentials
A support group should focus on making everyone feel safe and secure. A good support group should have a confidentiality agreement for everyone to sign, which would lay out rules agreeing not to discuss any details of the support group and to not reveal any personal information. Also, a support group should have meetings held on a regular basis, typically at a set time and place, so members of the group can look forward to the meeting and have time to prepare.
Educational Support Groups
Support groups are often run by people who aren’t professional therapists or psychologists. Often, the leader is an individual whom has personally faced the same challenges as the other members of the group. While support groups are often thought to be an informal, conversational setting, they can also be conducted in more formal settings, offering educational presentations or guest speakers to bring relevant information to group members.
A good support group will have a strong leader who can enforce rules and decorum, and make sure all participants are respectful of each other. Leaders should also encourage participation, but not by using pressure, guilt or insults to try to compel them to share if they don’t feel ready.
It shouldn’t depend on the leader of the support group to encourage participation. The other group members should be encouraging and open to sharing as well, creating a cohesive environment where everyone is encouraged. Part of this cohesion should form naturally because everyone in the group, regardless of their personal background, has been affected in similar ways as the rest of the group. Diversity in a group is welcomed, as people with different life experiences may bring different perspectives.