What is a support group?
A support group is a group of 5 to 10 men committed to sharing events of our daily lives, the feelings stirred by those events, and the history behind those feelings.
Support groups are not a substitute for therapy, but a place where we can be ourselves. All groups are expected to follow a set of Guidelines established by the Council. The only requirement for joining a support group is a genuine desire to join with other men in supporting each other’s life journeys.
There may be some delay in placement pending formation of new groups and requests from existing groups to add new members.
Support Group Guidelines
These guidelines can help your group achieve meaningful give-and-take of a richness and depth that makes the experience positive for all members. Giving and receiving truthful feedback is a skill that takes the individual time to acquire, and the group time to adjust and adapt to. Revised and adopted December, 1998
- Commitment – For the group to grow as a group, the regular attendance of every member is important. If an emergency prevents your attendance, let another member know ASAP. Before you quit your group, discuss it with the group and plan a session to say your good-byes. Closure in this matter is important.
- Confidentiality – Members and issues of the group are not to be discussed with anyone outside the group.
- “I” Statements vs. “You” Statements – Take ownership for your feelings and opinions. For example, “I feel nervous when you laugh at me like that,” will be more likely to generate a useful conversation than “You make me nervous!”
- Listen – Attentive silence followed by non-judgmental acknowledgment–e.g., “Sounds like you’re angry about it,” vs. “You don’t have to bitch about it so much!”
- Focus on Feelings – How you feel about an issue or event or person is more important than the logic. The group can help you express your feelings if you let it.
- Responsibility – Each member is responsible for his own behavior, thoughts and feelings. Each member is also responsible for asking specifically for what he wants from the group.
- Any Member May “pass” – Anyone who is uncomfortable or unwilling to participate in a given conversation may “pass” without having to explain.
- Speak Directly to One Another – Instead of saying to the group, “John seems angry,” look John in the eye and say, “You seem angry, John.”
- Avoid Judgment and Advice – Describe behavior (“You’re clenching your fists-are you angry?”). Don’t judge or advise (“You don’t have to get pissed off-why don’t you take a few deep breaths?”) Judgment and advice are OK if asked for explicitly (“How do you think I handled it? What would you suggest I do next time?”)
- Be Here Now – Remain as much as possible in the present.
- Avoid Questioning – When tempted to ask a question (“Why are you looking at me like that?”), discover the personal statement behind it, and express that (“I get uncomfortable when you look at me like that.”)
To Join a Support Group
In the Triangle Area:
There are currently a select number of support groups holding regular meetings. For additional information, please contact the Triangle Support Group Coordinator, Doug Lester, Group Coordinator.