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Types of support group

  1. Temporary or permanent group
  2. Close or open (admission for more members)
  3. With or without a facilitator

Facilitator

A support group facilitator is a member who is very important and has special responsibilities such as:

  1. Make an appointment; choose a venue and time for the event
  2. Start and end the meeting
  3. Control the mood and tone of the meeting
  4. Help members learn to be good listeners
  5. Solve all the problems during the meeting

Characteristics of a facilitator

  1. Sacrificing their personal time is essential because a facilitator needs to attend every meeting.
  2. Should have experience, ideally, and must be responsible, active, equitable and well-organized.
  3. Should be friendly and communicative.
  4. Should be kind and helpful.
  5. Should have powerful, positive thinking, and does not get discouraged easily.

Structure of support group

  1. How many members are in a group? In America and Europe, the support group comprises of 5-15 members per group. In Thailand, we found that Thai people are not communicative and the rate of participation was not consistent, so the suitable group size would be about 20-30 members.
  2. How do members join in a group meeting?
    - Face to face meeting
    - Calling via telephone
    - Talking via Line application
    - How often do members have meetings?

The 5 rule

  1. 1. Keep secrets – You must be able to build credibility and retain the environment of trust by keeping secrets.
  2. 2. Follow the Cherokee rule – Native Indians have a rule that only the person who holds the microphone has the permission to speak, so the other members must listen to him or her until they stop doing so.
  3. 3. Listen well - If it is not your turn to speak, you must be a good listener and your body language should say that you are attentive.
  4. 4. Be Punctual – It’s important to show your concern and respect to the cause by arriving on time for sessions. It demonstrates that you care and are serious about bringing a transformation in your life.
  5. 5. Respect each other - You must look at others with eye contact, greet others, call each other by their name, and be communicative when you meet others.

The 4 developmental phases of a support group

  1. Phase 1 - Formation (the process of creating the group), when members do not know each other.
  2. Phase 2 - Norming (members are reserved), members fear opening up.
  3. Phase 3 - Storming (brainstorming), where members disclose and are sincere to each other.
  4. Phase 4 - Performing (generating power within the group), this helps members achieve their goals.

Techniques for Moderator

  1. Begin and end the meeting on time
  2. Let everyone introduce themselves
  3. Review goals of the group
  4. Encourage members to talk about their own stories, and convince them to talk continuously with open-ended questions
  5. Create the ideal atmosphere by helping to solve problems, pick up issues, find and come up with solutions, decide from the choices, and find out a helper
  6. Look for, or create opportunities, for members to sympathize with each other
  7. A short note about the meeting - Who is talking? What are the problems they have encountered? What are the solutions?
  8. Summarize and end the meeting

Techniques for progression of group

  1. The facilitator needs to establish 2-3 leaders as a core group.
  2. Everyone must be motivated to participate.
  3. Sharing within the group must be emphasized upon and facilitators could be changed on a rotational basis.
  4. Responsibilities must be allocated to everyone.
  5. Results must be assessed and reassessed periodically by asking questions to members, such as what do you like or dislike and what should be improved. All members would then work together to bring out the desired change
  6. The progress of the group must be recorded.
  7. People who have sacrificed to work for the group must be appreciated.
  8. All members need to be encouraged to help each other, out of the meeting room or set the buddy system.
  9. If the group is open for more members, try to find new members for replacing the old ones, who may have to leave for some reason.
  10. Accept change in group dynamics, because change is always constant. However, please sustain at least 2 main goals of being as support group i.e. to allow members to share their feelings both happiness and unhappiness and to provide a group or team to members.

The support groups which are supported by Wellness We Care Center -

Wellness We Care Center has supported some support groups and planned to increase support to 17 types of support group. Some types have many groups. All groups are closed groups- no more new members after group formation. All groups began with participation in health care courses at Wellness We Care Center i.e. group of atherosclerosis (including diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, heart disease, and obesity), group of renal disease, group of cancer, group of autoimmune disease, group of store rehabilitation, group of weight loss, group of weight loss in adolescent, group of caregiver, group of exercise, group of cooking, group of MBT (Mindfulness-based treatment), group of gardening, group of Line Dance, group of singing, and group of dancing.