Is a Support Group for Me?

When life presents you with a difficult personal or health-related situation, how do you choose to cope? Are you one to mull things over, research and deal with it internally? Do you seek guidance or assistance from a trusted friend, family member or religious leader? Or is it your style to talk things out in the open with others who have experienced a similar situation?  If talking with others who have experienced similar situations appeals to you, support groups may be a resource worth exploring. Support groups are a unique type of counseling that brings people together who are experiencing similar life challenges.

As they come together to discuss and work through their problems, participants are met with empathy, strength and hope from others in the group who are likely to have worries similar to theirs. This process of sharing with others often leads to resolution of a problem or at least comfort for participants in knowing they are not alone in their thoughts or feelings. The Mayo Clinic website (https://www.mayoclinic.org) offers the possible benefits of participating in a support group:

  • Feeling less lonely, isolated or judged
  • Reducing distress, depression, anxiety or fatigue
  • Talking openly and honestly about your feelings, helping to alleviate the stress of keeping it in
  • Improving skills to cope with challenges
  • Staying motivated to manage chronic conditions or stick to treatment plans
  • Gaining a sense of empowerment, control or hope
  • Improving understanding of a disease and your own experience with it
  • Getting practical feedback about treatment options
  • Learning about health, economic or social resources 

Support groups help you "keep your head in the game." Members of the group are reminded of what they can do to make positive changes in their lives. They learn strategies other members have used to affect positive change in similar situations. During meetings when they speak about their progress, they may achieve a sense of accomplishment or request further support. The groups can be focused on emotional growth and support or can have a stronger educational focus. Either way, the benefit of discussing problematic subjects with others has been found to be a helpful format. At CJFS, over the years, we have offered different support groups for those dealing with the challenges of aging, caregiving, belonging to an interfaith family, living with cancer and many other situations that are common to the human condition. We are always willing to run these groups again in the future or to develop new group offerings as needed by the community. Please let us know if there are issues you'd like to explore in a group format. We will do our best to create a group or refer you to a group elsewhere in greater Birmingham. 

Contact Clinical Director Stu Jaffe, stu@cjfsbham.org or 205.879.3438 for information about support groups currently available to address the issues you or a loved one may have.