Support Groups

Support Group Format

Tucson DBSA Support Group Format (rev. 4/01/15)

Hello everyone and welcome to the {state day and time} meeting of the Tucson Chapter of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. My name is ___________, and I will be facilitating tonight {identify and introduce co-facilitators}. This is our group and facilitator do not have all the answers. Our role is to simply keep the discussion on track and help maintain a productive environment. I will also be monitoring for cues and themes to support group discussion. To do that I may occasionally ask a question, make a comment, or help move our discussion along.

I’ll briefly review the format and our schedule for the meeting along with other information. {State the end time for meeting}. There are no breaks, however restrooms as needed are located (tell location). Would you join with me now in putting your cell phones on vibrate? Feel free to take a call but we ask that you take it outside the room. Also, during the meeting we don?t mention drugs by brand name instead saying for example, “I take an anti-anxiety medication.” Likewise, we don?t mention our mental health professionals names. After the meeting you are welcome to share either or both with one another.

And usually we try to announce when there is about ten minutes left to the meeting. Also, newcomers, please try to attend 3 to 4 meetings before deciding if this is the place for you. As our moods change so do the meetings from week to week. At the conclusion of the meeting I will close with a summary statement to leave us on an upbeat and positive note.

{Point out any handouts and their location and ask people to pick them up after the meeting. Share any other announcements.}

Tonight, we’ll follow a procedure recommended by national DBSA and designed to give everyone an opportunity to participate if they choose to. First we will check in. This means that each one of us will have an opportunity to introduce ourselves by first name and diagnosis, and tell us what is currently happening and what you would like from the group tonight. Please limit this introduction to three minutes and stay in the here and now. After three minutes, I will have to intervene and move our discussion along. We have set the time limit so that we will have plenty of time left to talk together.

Before we begin, let me review the guidelines for our discussion:

  • Share the air – Everyone who wishes to share has an opportunity to do so. No one person should monopolize group time.
  • One person speaks at a time – Each person should be allowed to speak free from interruption and side
    conversations.
  • What is said here stays here – This is the essential principle of confidentiality, and must be respected by all.
  • Differences of opinion are okay – We are all entitled to our own point of view. However, arguments will not be tolerated. And disruptive members may be asked to leave.
  • We are all equal – We accept cultural, linguistic, social and racial differences and promote their acceptance.
  • We use “I” language. Because we do not participate in support groups as credentialed professionals, we do not instruct or advise telling others what to do. We, however, do share from our own personal experiences. We are unique individuals and only we know, along with our doctors? recommendations, what is best for our own health. It’s better to say, for example: “In my experience, I have found that”.
  • It’s okay not to share – People do not have to share if they do not wish to.
  • It’s everyone?s responsibility to make the discussion groups a safe place to share by respecting confidentiality, treating each other with respect and kindness, and showing compassion.

Before we begin our meeting is anyone here tonight in crisis or dealing with a hot issue or suicidal that needs our attention immediately?

If not, as is customary, we will start with facilitator and “old timers” to model format and time limit.

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