Anxiety and uncertainty are starting to weigh on people’s minds due to extended restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now more than ever, people are feeling the need to connect with others and know that they are not alone in their situations. Caregivers are particularly prone to feelings of isolation and being overwhelmed. Participating in a group provides an opportunity to be with people with common situations and who understand just what you may be experiencing.
Benefits of participating in a support group may include feeling less lonely, isolated or judged and reducing distress, depression, anxiety or fatigue. Support groups at The Hub on Smith are focused primarily on providing support for those who are caring for an aging family member or seniors who are raising younger children.
While support groups have been meeting at The Hub for many years, many people have misconceptions about what a support group is and the benefits of participation. The following information may help you understand why support groups are vital part of The Hub on Smith.
What do the groups talk about?
The discussions that take place in the group are not limited to a particular topic. While most people share stories about their experiences or ask for advice from the group members, it is also OK to just share about life in general. What is most important is that you begin to feel comfortable with the group so that when the time comes, you can share your feeling and even ask for help.
How do you protect the privacy of the group?
At The Hub, we take confidentiality very seriously. Prior to joining a support group, members are advised of the confidentiality requirements and their obligation of what information can and cannot be shared with those outside of the group.
How often does group meet?
Most of the groups meet once a week for 60 minutes, however, not everyone can make it to every meeting. Most members look forward to the break they get from being a caregiver during this time.
How long can I stay in group?
You can stay in group as long as you feel it is beneficial for you.
What if I am uncomfortable sharing with a group?
Most people are initially anxious about talking in group. Almost without exception, within a few sessions, new members find that the group process draws them in and they begin to share with the group in ways they never anticipated.
There is also opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with members of your group and begin to get to know others so that when it comes time to share you feel more comfortable. While there are many benefits to sharing with peers, it isn’t a requirement of participation. If you are not yet comfortable contributing to the group, it's acceptable to merely listen to the other members and reflect silently on their stories. It is very important that group members feel safe. Group leaders are there to create a safe environment for all involved.
Does the support group do anything else besides share their stories?
Sharing your experiences is a big part of the support group, but it that is not all that is done during the meeting. The leaders bring in guests to provide education on relevant topics, mental health tricks and other activities or things to make you smile.
Just attending the group for an hour a week gives you a break from your daily caregiver duties. The Hub has resources to provide respite care for your loved one to give you the opportunity to attend group sessions. Many find that they look forward to this time to focus on themselves.
What if my group is not the right fit?
The Hub has a few different groups and we suggest you try a support group for a few weeks. If it does not feel like a good fit for you, consider a different support group or a different support group format.
I tried a support group before, and it didn’t really help.
There are a lot of reasons a support group can miss its mark for an individual. But do not let past experiences deter you from participating in support groups again. Every group is different and dynamic. Maybe you find you connect better with this leader than the last one, or maybe you find you have more in common with the members of this group. Almost everyone can value in helping and supporting each other.
If you or someone you know would be interested in joining a support group contact Denise Hawley, family care coordinator at 307-762-2240 ext 115, or by email at email@example.com.