Leading a Support Group: A Practical Guide

Leading a Support Group: A Practical Guide

Leading a Support Group: A Practical Guide

Leading a Support Group: A Practical Guide


Support groups are proven to be efficient and effective therapy, but people in health care, education, and therapy rarely offer them due to lack of knowledge and training. Leading a

Support Group explains the benefits of support groups and takes the reader step by step through the process of forming and running one. Written pointedly for the novice, this tutorial concentrates on case studies and the problems typically experienced by beginners.


Thirty years ago the thought of joining 'a group' was heavily laden with excitement and mystery. The excesses of the encounter and personal growth group movements in America had been captured and spread by film and literature. Various myths had arisen that depicted groups as dangerous places, akin to emotional minefields of a highly destructive potential. In such settings, it seemed, one would either be led to make intimate confessions (later regretted) or be drawn into great sexual licentiousness where clothes came off and morals were set aside with joyous abandonment. Groups were, therefore, for the adventurous and uninhibited. In reality, most of the work involved in the development of group technique was not in the least disreputable. In fact, participants searching for excitement in groups would quite often be disappointed and deflated.

How are groups viewed today? This is not a question with a snappy answer. We would need a formal survey of opinion in order to give exact and reliable information. However, it is clear that group technique has shifted to a position in which it is seen as a serious and, at times, powerful means of education, support and therapy. Indeed, even modern government seems unable to get by without focus groups, a derivative of the group approach. There are now hundreds of texts dealing with one aspect or another of group work and respected academic journals dealing with the group approach have been introduced. This turn to respectability can be traced back to the literature of the 1980s. For example, Aveline and Dryden (1988) edited a collection of papers which served to illustrate the range of applications of group technique in the caring professions and the extent to which group work had already become accepted as a standard option for the caring professions. Since then, this trend has continued. There has also been a parallel increase in the use of various types of group technique in industry and commerce generally where it has been found to be helpful in training and motivational programmes. Overall, then, it is safe to say that group work is now accepted and is here to stay.

Leading a Support Group is not, we must emphasize, just another book about groups. It arises out of another aspect of current attitudes towards groups which might best be described as the burden of lack of confidence. In short, many people who would be quite capable of setting up and running a support group hold back from doing so because they lack the confidence. Often this is in circumstances where a support group is very much needed. A

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