SUPPORT GROUPS; meaning, working, benefits and drawbacks

“You can’t help everyone, but everyone can help you.”

– Dr. Loretta Scott

what is support groups


I read this line some days back on my feed. It got me thinking what exactly it means and after a good amount of research, I figured out what exactly it meant. In this world, human being cannot survive on its own that’s why it is termed as a “SOCIAL ANIMAL”.

He/she constantly need support or help from others in various aspects of life in order to stay alive.  That’s how social relations are formed. Usually when we face a problem we tend to turn to friends and family for support, but sometimes they may be able to relate what we have been facing and turn out to give advices rather than hearing us out.

At such times talking to people who are dealing with similar situation might be really help. Along with medical treatment people need emotional support and having a support group filled with people dealing with similar problem will provide one another adequate emotional support. Support groups where people with similar traumatic experiences or problems get together to listen to each other and help each other heal.

For example, people suffering with cancer, chronic illness, emotional problem, addictions or people who want to enhance their wellbeing come together forming a support group.


Working of support group

Support groups are usually non-profit entity belonging to an organization, community or hospital or may entirely be self help group entirely run by its members. There have been different formats of support groups which include face to face meeting, online video meets, where each member shares their experiences and stories. The group would be led by one of the members or by a facilitator like doctor, social activist or psychologist depending upon the need of the group.


Finding a support group

Support groups can be connected via doctors or hospitals that are treating similar patients. There are NGOs and other non-profit communities who advocate support groups for particular medical conditions or addictions, for example “Alcoholics Anonymous” have local chapter all around the world. Internet and social media today have got the world closer, which makes them easiest way to search as well as connect to various support groups on social media platforms.


Benefits of support group

Meeting and talking to people with common experiences which means all the group members have similar feelings, worries, treatment and side effects and this is an opportunity to be with people who understand each other. This helps participants feel less lonely and isolated. Group members talk to each other freely and honestly.

It helps the participants to stay motivated towards their treatment. The meeting activity helps to cope up with challenges they face on daily basis and reduce distress and anxiety. It helps improving the understanding and the self-experience about the disease or the condition person is going through.


Drawbacks in support group

The support may not work for everyone; generally an effective support group requires a facilitator. The group may have problem with respect to having disruptive members which can hamper the activity to fulfil group objective. There may be some members who are dominating thus leading to some participants end not opening up to the group.

Confidentiality is a concern by every group member. Inappropriate medical advices might be shared and competitive comparison can make it worse. Hence an appropriate facilitator is needed to reduce such possible problems.


Before joining any support group

Since support group may vary, one must understand which support group is suitable for him/her. Before joining any support group, one must understand the type of group and whether it is suitable to join which depends on people attending the group, place of the meeting and timings.

One must understand if the facilitator is trained and experienced in the field and must try to find out if the group has confidentiality guidelines. Some support group have membership fees. One must try to avoid joining such groups who market themselves to provide sure cure or who charge high fees. There are some support groups which pressure the members to purchase certain products or services.



Support group is to get together of people in a meeting setup who dealing with same condition may it be medical or traumatic or for well being so that that can share experiences, stories and feelings and attain emotional support which would be difficult to get from their friends or family in that case.

Initially after joining participants may feel awkward and find it difficult to open up, but with time everyone starts contributing. One may try to attend it for few days or weeks if it is not fitting consider trying different group. Always inform your doctor or therapist about your participation in support group.

Support groups are not a substitute for medical treatment but the bridge the gap between medical treatment and emotional support needed by the patient.


What do you think?

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Written by Taniya Singh

Hi I am Taniya Singh from Himachal Pradesh ,India . I have completed my M.A. in psychology from Panjab University, Chandigarh. I aspire to excel in the field of Psychology and wish to contribute in the research work in this field. I am very much fond of art and love painting, reading and traveling.

Through this platform I would like to connect to budding psychologist and experts to learn and share knowledge.

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