Can a Support Group Help?

When we are going through a difficult time in our lives here in New York City, we can benefit from supportive, empathetic people to share our journey with us and help lighten the load. Depending on what the issue may be, a friend, family member, or spouse may be enough to get us through. But sometimes we need others who understand what we’re going through and who have experienced what we’re experiencing, to help us walk that road and come out the other side. That’s where a support group comes in.

Whether you’re dealing with grief, abuse, anxiety, or infertility, there is a group out there for you. Your doctor or your local hospital may be able to recommend local support groups or reputable online organizations. However, a support group is not a substitute for therapy. Working one-on-one with a therapist is often necessary when overcoming deep wounds or events in your life that have affected your ability to cope.

Support groups are often peer-led groups, moderated by someone who shares a common experience with others in the group. These groups can provide you with a sense of belonging, a feeling that you are not alone, and that feeling in itself can be very therapeutic. But be careful; while a well-run support group can enhance your therapy and build upon the progress you make with your therapist, a poorly run group can devolve into individual personalities that can dominate or derail the meetings and possibly make you feel worse.  

Rather than seeking out a support group first, I recommend finding a therapist first, one who is experienced in your particular needs. Interview the potential therapist to find out his or her knowledge of your issues and what type of therapy he or she would use. A good therapist, in the initial conversation, should be able to get a sense of which method of therapy would be most helpful for you. That is not to say that the approach won’t change as therapy progresses – I sometimes make adjustments as my clients begin the process of healing and I assess that a different form of therapy would be more productive at the new stage. This ability to continually evaluate the person’s needs is a product of my empathy, intuition, and years of experience. 

Once you have begun sessions, ask your therapist about adding a support group, if you feel like you would like one. Your therapist undoubtedly knows some reliable groups that have good moderators and can enhance your therapy so that you can progress at a rapid pace toward healing and recovery. 

Find a therapist near you before joining a support group. If you are in the New York City area, feel free to reach out to see how I can help you.

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