Life in Balance

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Exploring the Dynamics of Support Groups by Jason Applebaum

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Did you ever think attending a support group for the first time could be a frightening experience?

I have been a part of many groups and am always apprehensive in the first meeting.  During the initial meeting, people do not know one another and may have high expectations which may lead to a stressful situation.  However, over time it becomes less intimidating and exceptionally rewarding.  Many people make judgements about the group after the first meeting and ask themselves if this group is for me.  The key is to keep an open mind.  It is important to realize the initial group meeting is usually a time to get to know other group members.  For the most part, people do not fully share with a group of strangers and because of this the initial meeting might not seem to meet your needs.  However, over time, trust is built within the group and that is when the magic will begin to happen and real healing will take place.

Once trust has been built into the group and people open up to one another (when they are comfortable), group members can gain valuable insights.  As everyone is experiencing similar difficulties, it is important to not focus on your own challenges, but to listen to others as well.  Through listening to another’s perspective, you can gain insight into your own thoughts and concerns.  It may be possible to draw parallels which you might not have noticed otherwise.

Support groups can be a part of an overall wellness plan.  Just give it time and you will begin to see results.  If the results are not what you were expecting or the group is not working for you, communicate your feelings with the facilitator and give him/her a chance to help; it is helpful when you share your thoughts and feelings.

Consider attending support groups, you might be pleasantly surprised.

The author, Jason Applebaum, is recovering from a gambling addiction and has continually attended support groups as part of his wellness recovery plan.

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