Support groups are an excellent way for traumatic brain injury survivors and their caretakers or family to share their journeys and learn more about the specific challenges they face. Starting a successful support group takes a lot of thoughtful consideration and planning. The fact that you are looking for more information before starting your group is a good sign. Check out our top tips for starting you own TBI support group below.
Hone Your Focus
Choose your group members. Your group members should be made up of individuals with a shared challenge or challenges. You can always have group members with more than one challenge, but they should be related, to help keep your group focused and helpful. Consider whether you could best support the individuals personally impacted by TBI or their parents and siblings. You could always combine those two groups as well. Also take age range into consideration when selecting your member focus: children, teens, adults, or the elderly will thrive in a support group geared toward them.
Structure Your Group
It’s always helpful to determine ahead of time how you would like your support group to flow. Will you have a curriculum-based discussion over a book or materials brought in each week? Topic-based forums can help the discussion flow by providing members with a subject matter to discuss every meeting, or you can try open forum style and let the conversation flow wherever it happens to lead. Choosing your leadership is an important step to facilitating conversation. Different types of leadership include peer, professional, and guest-led discussions. You may choose to co-facilitate with another member of the group or a professional familiar with your support groups focus.
Now it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of starting a support group. Choose a place for your group to meet. Select the time of day and how often your group will meet. Churches, libraries, and community centers offer free or inexpensive options for meeting locations. If you do choose to meet somewhere with a higher cost, you might want to charge a member fee or door fee. Also think about implementing attendance policies or organizing refreshments and setting aside time for socializing. When you have all the basic details laid out, you can start advertising your support group on social media, forums, and blogs, as well as at libraries, hospitals, social service offices, and churches.
Last but not least, get started! You can only plan so long, start having your group meet as soon as your prep work is done to ensure you keep your motivation going strong. You’ll learn the rest along the way; a thriving support group is a growing process for both you and your support group members. If you want to learn more about traumatic brain injury support groups and the challenges associated with TBI, then check out TryMunity. Join our community today for more TBI news and information.