VIVIENNE’S ANXIETY SUPPORT GROUPS: benefits for participants
The benefits of being a member of a support group are numerous. Here we are concentrating on the help participants can offer one another and the sense of hope individuals can gain.
If you join an anxiety support group led by Vivienne you will participate in 10 weekly sessions with the same members each week. Regular participation is important because trust between members must develop; this will happen as members disclose their thoughts, emotions and ideas with the group providing acceptance and support. Gradually members feel sufficiently secure within the support group to be honest and open about their feelings and challenges. Members expose their vulnerabilities. Bonds are built that keep a group of members together as a whole with a sense of “we-ness”. Support groups generate a sense of belonging and caring.
Support groups provide opportunities for members to understand and help their peers. Members witness the struggles and pain of others with similar problems to their own. In helping others, members can develop self-esteem, self-insight and better interpersonal communication.
Another benefit of being a member of a support group is the power such a group has to instill hope. New members may be demoralized and be feeling alone, helpless and hopeless. Vivienne remembers one young woman with social anxiety who was full of fear to start with; gradually her group participation increased and her courage to make changes in her life grew. Finally she was ready to return to her studies. Through support group participation members can develop the ideas that it is possible to change and also to influence the cause of one’s problems. This may come about by seeing other support group members change for the better through group participation.