Things to Remember with Support Groups

Written by on October 11, 2005 in Conversations on the Healing Journey with 0 Comments

While I believe in support groups, and the wonderful opportunities they provide, I want to stress the importance of discerning and exercising caution in seeking help through the internet, because anyone can set up shop.

Anyone. Anyone from incompetent people to toxic people to predators.

It’s so easy to place a few initials after your name or to hang out your shingle in front of your virtual office or assume a persona. And even if they are who they say they are and do have a degree, there are diploma mills for virtually every topic, and for schools that are out there, not all are equal.

Even those who manage to go through reputable schools may not necessarily be great healers or therapists, or even good ones. They may simply be people who have the ability to do the course work.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen a number of on-line support communities that actually became quite abusive in themselves. This usually happens with a moderator who gets carried away with their administrative duties and the ability to wield power over the board, like censoring, editing posts and banning, or an aggressive poster no one wants to face down.

In a support group, you will find some of the most vulnerable people, which sometimes leads to others taking advantage of that.

The important thing is to be careful about how much information about yourself you give away. If you become a member of an on-line support group, be very careful about doing anything more intimate, including private emails, away from that community.

Respect the boundaries that you have decided and set up ahead of time, which means decide on them before you participate.

If you choose to participate, remember to not give your power away, even if you feel you have none. You do! It’s a matter of reclaiming it.

Learn, explore, consider, but NEVER substitute another person’s voice for your own. No matter how much you are hurting or how dysfunctional you think you are, the bottom line is, you are responsible for your own self and you know yourself best.

Do consider, in good faith, other people’s perceptions and suggestions, but don’t let someone tell you you’re in denial if you don’t follow them. It’s better to keep your power and make mistakes, than to give up your power and let someone else make all the “right” choices for you.

A true healer is never verbally abusive…Not even for your own good! Proceed slowly, pay attention to your instinct, and if it doesn’t feel right, leave. If someone is offended you are questioning them, they are NOT the right person for you! This goes for both on-line and off-line help.

Also, remember, people are at various stages in their healing. It’s powerful to bond with others who have similar experiences, but don’t think just because they were abused, they’d never abuse you. Periodically reminding yourself of that can help you to deal with unhealthy dynamics of other people or situations, while keeping you mindful of your own.

With that in mind, follow your heart and explore the resources that are out there. Keep an open mind, let yourself learn and grow, but remember that just because you found it on the Net, doesn’t make it so. You take the final responsibility for your experience.

Keeping the Dream,

At 4:16 p.m., this afternoon, after I had published this post, I received a newsletter concerning the same topic of credibility from another blog. Though it doesn’t relate specifically to support groups, I thought Jim Edwards article made some good points about information found on blogs, and is worth being mindful of when exploring the vast resources found on the internet.

About the Author

About the Author: Demian Yumei, author, singer/songwriter and artist activist, using spoken, written word and original songs in her human rights activism. Demian is a traveler on the healing journey with a lifelong love affair with the creative process. .


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