Tips On Keeping a Support Group Going
1. Keep track of your group's progress. From time to time, ask members for their feedback on
how the group is going. Find out how useful they find it, how comfortable they feel, and their
likes and dislikes about the group. Use this information to adjust.
2. Share responsibility for the group. Letting others take leadership roles helps them feel more
committed to and invested in the group. Make sure members know their help is appreciated.
Since you may find it is often easier to do things yourself, asking others in the group to take
over some responsibilities can be trying. However, no one person should have to do
everything, and sharing responsibilities will help you avoid burnout.
3. Be sure everyone has a chance to talk. Some people are naturally more talkative than
others. Asking questions to get quiet parents to speak up is important. It is also crucial to
keep the more vocal parent on-topic and gently remind them to let others have a turn at
times. You can also make that parent a leader which will allow them to interact more with
4. Emphasize the importance of confidentiality. For your parents to feel safe enough in your
support group to self-disclose and work through problems, they need to feel sure that
nobody is going to be telling people outside of the group about the group's discussions.
Make sure this is well understood by everyone. You can also have each parent sign a
confidentiality agreement form.
5. Encourage outside contact among parents. Parents can offer support to each other outside
of meetings. This will encourage parents to build nature support among each other with
parents who are raising youth with mental health.
6. Keep recruiting. If you have an open group, make sure you continue to get the word out.
Groups can stagnate when the membership remains the same all the time, and if parents
who leave are never replaced your group will not survive.
7. Share your lived experience which will allow parents to know you understand their where
they are coming from. Let parents know that you appreciate their contributions. When
people make mistakes, do not place judgement. Do not heap all the praise when something
goes well on any one person - or all the guilt when things go badly.
8. Keep a realistic perspective. Do not idealize the support group. There may sometimes be
people that your group will not be able to help; this does not mean your efforts are futile.
Also, when members leave, it does not mean you have failed them. Usually, it means that
they have used the group as much as they think is useful and moved on with their lives.
9. Remember that this is a parent support group. The dynamics of a group may change over
time - for example, it could become more social in function, or it could change focus in terms
of topic. No matter how the group changes, your group's primary purpose is to provide
support and understanding to its individual members.