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Support Groups

At Mount Auburn Hospital, you have access to healthcare professionals who understand the only constant in life is change and that sometimes, you need help to deal with its challenges.

We understand that support takes many forms, so you’ll find a wide variety of individual and group services made up of people facing the same types of challenges. You’ll find an environment of social support which can play an important role in how you cope with/recover from a situation.

Whether you are diagnosed with cancer or seek assistance for a loved one with mental or substance abuse issues, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you’ll find someone who will listen, who will tell you they understand and then be there for you. Life is sometimes an emotional roller coaster – events such as the birth of a child caring for an aging parent or suddenly suffering a chronic illness – all bring seismic changes requiring outside help.

When you join a support network, you learn new ways to confront your challenges with people who understand the problem and, more importantly, who may suffer from the same condition. You learn new ways to deal with your problem and this ongoing support will be there to help you overcome it.

We invite you to look at some of the ways in which we can help, including seminars and groups led by professional health care providers.

Support Groups and Peer Support

At Mount Auburn, you’ll find self-help and support groups with similar challenges who welcome you and offer practical advice and ongoing encouragement. You’ll find this type of interaction very helpful. Groups usually consist of people with similar problems who share practical advice, which is quite different from counseling sessions, and may last from a few meetings to ongoing sessions, depending on your needs. You should know that joining a self-help/support group does not replace professional counseling; you may also need to participate in regular counseling sessions with a healthcare professional.

Your self-help/support groups:

  • are run by members who help each other solve problems.
  • meet regularly, usually once a week, or as needed
  • Can be attended by both the person with the condition, or by his/her family and friends. (Membership may vary. Talk with someone in the group before attending for the first time.)
  • work best with full participation; however, don’t feel pressured to speak at your first meeting – just listen and offer and silent encouragement by smiling and nodding your head – this is also a valuable way of participating.

You may feel uncomfortable sharing with others, so this type of environment may not be right for you. We encourage you to give group support a fair chance – you should attend at least three consecutive meetings to decide whether this type of interaction may not be right for you.

How to find a Support Group

You can find support in a number of ways:

  • Ask your doctor, counselor, or other health professional for suggestions
  • Ask your religious leaders: contact churches, mosques, synagogues, or other religious groups
  • Ask your family and friends
  • Ask people with similar conditions
  • Contact city, state, or national group for the condition*
  • Search online blogs, chat rooms, email lists, and forums seeking those with similar conditions **.

* Your library, community center, or phone book may have a list of these groups

**Please remember that these are peer generated websites often not monitored by professionals and may contain inaccurate information.
You should find a support group that works for you. Do you prefer a formal group structure with leader- led discussions or - in lieu of face-to-face meetings - do you feel more secure in Internet chat rooms or forums? Consider your options carefully before you make your choice – we can help.

Social Support

Your family, friends, and others in your local community provide vital emotional support through love, trust, advice, and understanding. They can provide you with other types of assistance such as financial and time management resources; in short, they help you feel better about yourself and most importantly, provide you with hope.
You can get support from:

  • Spouses or partners and your children.
  • Parents, siblings, grandparents, relatives and other family members.
  • Friends, coworkers, members of your church, neighbors, and classmates.
  • Support groups, consumer drop-in centers, or online support groups.
  • Doctors, therapists, nurses, and other healthcare professionals.

You should also consider teammates, book or social club members, and individuals with similar outside interests such as painting, travel, etc. These individuals/groups enable you to expand your support network to share your feelings, hopes, and dreams in a nonjudgmental environment to help build better, stronger relationships.

Improving Social Support

You may lack a strong social support network due to the following circumstances:

  • You are ashamed of your problem and won’t share with anyone.
  • Your condition makes other people uncomfortable around you
  • You feel too depressed to talk to people.
  • You have no family or friends where you live.
  • You can deal with your condition by understanding/knowing the following
    • social support is a two-way street. You count on your social network for support, but its members also count on you. Ask them about their families, jobs, and interests, and help them when you can.
    • your friendships have' limits; consider temporary or complete separation if necessary.
    • when it's time to stop talking and listen or to just enjoy your friend's company.
    • be clear when communicating; listen carefully and if in doubt, ask clarifying questions
    • not to judge anyone unless you expect to be judged.
    • good friends also can be bad friends: social networks can lift you up or drag you down

For more information on Support Groups, please contact the Social Work department at 617-499-5050.

Related Locations

Mount Auburn Hospital

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Harvard Medical School Teaching Hospital