Social Support Groups:
Do They Still Have a Role in
2013?
Are Groups Still Relevant?
Definitely!
Are Groups Still Relevant?
Groups are a site of information gathering, social
connection, exposure to diversity of ideas a...
Are Groups Still Relevant?
•
•
•
•
•
•

Being heard
Develop confidence
Validate identity and worth
Reason to leave the hou...
Are Groups Still Relevant?
•
•

Access to trusted figures- facilitators, community
leaders, peers
Access to experts that m...
Are Groups Still Relevant?
Many participants graduate to
facilitating, supporting, becoming community
leaders
Are Groups Still Relevant?
•
•

Groups are especially important for socially
disconnected men
Community connection is impo...
Are Groups Still Relevant?
•

•
•

Groups empower older men who may be losing
power in their lives
Chosen family: Queer me...
Are Groups Still Relevant?
• Groups VS online/bars/sports: A false dichotomy
• Other environments can complement groups
• ...
Are Groups Still Relevant?
Many environments
• Invisibilise seniors and diversely abled folk
• Are not accessible in terms...
Are Groups Still Relevant?
•

•
•

Face to face engagement is important for social and
mental health
Tech-based interactio...
Are Groups Still Relevant?
•
•

Groups aim to be a structured, safer facilitated space
Groups may be an easier space to di...
Are Groups Still Relevant?
There is clear value (feedback and demand) and
challenges (numbers)
Groups and Information Access
Groups vary from information-centred groups to groups
where information is packaged in with ...
Groups and Information Access
•
•

Expert human guest speakers offer dynamic
responses, trust, authority, safer space for ...
Groups and Information Access
•
•
•

Referrals, information on community resources
Information from trusted sources and pe...
Groups and Information Access
•
•
•

Opportunity to SHARE knowledge, lived experience
Intergenerational knowledge and skil...
Groups and Information Access
•
•
•

Not everyone is online, and not everyone reads
Not everyone actively seeks new inform...
Groups and Social Access
•

•

Bars are less and less dominant in
facilitating social health in the
computer age, but tech...
Groups and Social Access
•
•
•
•
•

Friendships, mentorships formed
Less sexual pressure and
requirement for sexual capita...
Groups and Social Access
•
•
•

Concern for well-being: absences
noticed
Queers more likely to age alone, be
alienated fro...
Groups and Social Access
•
•
•
•

Socialising before and after
Cliques to some degree
Facilitation can help avoid exclusio...
Groups and Health Outcomes
Not a panacea, but a piece
Groups and Health Outcomes
•
•

Participants check-in reporting a bad day or
week, and check-out reporting feeling good
Gr...
Groups and Health Outcomes
•

•

Works against internalized homophobia and minority
stress, leading to better holistic hea...
Groups and Health Outcomes
•
•
•

Connection to community health resources
Didactic information, discussion
Physical healt...
Groups and Health Outcomes
•
•

Sounding board and availability of trusted facilitators
Healthy routine
Groups and Diversity
More exposure than might happen
organically
Groups and Diversity
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Intergenerational
Multicultural
Religious
Gender identities
Gender expression
...
Groups and Diversity
•

•
•
•

Understanding of diverse cultural
norms and competencies
Self-advocacy
“Curriculum” diversi...
Who’s There… and Who’s Missing?
Who comes and/or comes back?
• Out guys
• Gay-identified
• Looking for something besides s...
Who’s There… and Who’s Missing?
Who doesn’t come, or doesn’t come back?
• 25-40
• Worried about being outed- whether enter...
Who’s There… and Who’s Missing?
•

•
•

Embarrassment barrier to discussing topics such as
risk or kink face to face. Good...
Who’s There… and Who’s Missing?
•
•
•
•

Not engaged with organizations
Men who feel alienated from gay community
Unable t...
Who’s There… and Who’s Missing?
•
•

Couples
First impression was on a slow night, or with a speaker
they didn’t identify ...
Who’s There… and Who’s Missing?
•

•
•

Do groups exclude or create space for
introverts, socially anxious men?
Perception...
Intentional Inclusiveness
•
•
•

Difficult!
Inclusive organizational cultures trickle down to
programs, groups
Outreach to...
Intentional Inclusiveness
•
•
•
•

Diverse non-tokenized speakers
Scour your curriculum for oppression
Accessibility;
Envi...
Intentional Inclusiveness
•
•
•
•
•

Space for all levels of English
Space for diverse knowledge, experiences, ideas
Facil...
Intentional Inclusiveness
•

Safer space agreement:
• Clear
• Participant buy-in, contribution to
• Pronoun checks
• Safe ...
Intentional Inclusiveness
•
•
•

Facilitators must actively have the hard conversations;
challenge exclusion and oppressio...
Sustainability
•
•
•
•
•

Participant ownership
Volunteers active in planning and management
Staff involved- attend at lea...
Sustainability
•
•
•
•

Facilitators have an opportunity to shadow, train, be
mentored
Support for facilitators: check-ins...
Sustainability
•

•
•
•

Well-selected facilitators with the ability to
compartmentalize
Make time to really recognize you...
Sustainability
• Guest speakers, outings, movies, topics, open
discussion- mix things up!
• Well-briefed speakers who gel ...
Sustainability
•

•
•

Assess needs before and during - why are we doing
this?
Don’t reinvent the wheel
What are the actua...
Sustainability
•
•
•
•
•

Need may come in waves
Groups often have a natural shelf life
Try for a year before discontinuin...
Mind the Gap
•
•
•

Promoting privilege
Setting oneself up as the sole expert
Uninvolved staff
Mind the Gap
•
•
•

Underbriefed presenters
Underprepared, insufficiently trained facilitators
A lot of human variables ar...
Mind the Gap
•
•
•

Organizations can never know for sure if facilitators
are working ethically, inclusively
Trying to do ...
Day 2   0900 - robin parry & ben klassen
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Day 2 0900 - robin parry & ben klassen

  1. 1. Social Support Groups: Do They Still Have a Role in 2013?
  2. 2. Are Groups Still Relevant? Definitely!
  3. 3. Are Groups Still Relevant? Groups are a site of information gathering, social connection, exposure to diversity of ideas and lived experiences, and a positive determinant of health.
  4. 4. Are Groups Still Relevant? • • • • • • Being heard Develop confidence Validate identity and worth Reason to leave the house Anti-oppressive influence Intellectual stimulation
  5. 5. Are Groups Still Relevant? • • Access to trusted figures- facilitators, community leaders, peers Access to experts that may not be financially or socially accessible for participants otherwise
  6. 6. Are Groups Still Relevant? Many participants graduate to facilitating, supporting, becoming community leaders
  7. 7. Are Groups Still Relevant? • • Groups are especially important for socially disconnected men Community connection is important in different ways to different cohorts
  8. 8. Are Groups Still Relevant? • • • Groups empower older men who may be losing power in their lives Chosen family: Queer men more likely to age alone, be re-closeted, face cohort oppression Not many queer-safe youth or seniors’ spaces in the city
  9. 9. Are Groups Still Relevant? • Groups VS online/bars/sports: A false dichotomy • Other environments can complement groups • Group participation can be a step toward other environments • People move on when they’ve got what they needed
  10. 10. Are Groups Still Relevant? Many environments • Invisibilise seniors and diversely abled folk • Are not accessible in terms of hours, addictions, mobility…
  11. 11. Are Groups Still Relevant? • • • Face to face engagement is important for social and mental health Tech-based interactions can facilitate but also impede interactions Meeting offline may depend on social or sexual capital; Groups aim to be open to all
  12. 12. Are Groups Still Relevant? • • Groups aim to be a structured, safer facilitated space Groups may be an easier space to discuss health and relationship topics than bars for many
  13. 13. Are Groups Still Relevant? There is clear value (feedback and demand) and challenges (numbers)
  14. 14. Groups and Information Access Groups vary from information-centred groups to groups where information is packaged in with social activities or support circles
  15. 15. Groups and Information Access • • Expert human guest speakers offer dynamic responses, trust, authority, safer space for people to open up with questions Low barrier access to experts eg medical, legal, HIV disclosure
  16. 16. Groups and Information Access • • • Referrals, information on community resources Information from trusted sources and peers is shown to be effective Discussion boosts information retention
  17. 17. Groups and Information Access • • • Opportunity to SHARE knowledge, lived experience Intergenerational knowledge and skill sharing Exposure to different perspectives, lived experiences, ways of processing information boosts critical thought
  18. 18. Groups and Information Access • • • Not everyone is online, and not everyone reads Not everyone actively seeks new information Confidentiality- no browser history, people walking past in the library
  19. 19. Groups and Social Access • • Bars are less and less dominant in facilitating social health in the computer age, but technology may not meet all social needs Technology and bars require money
  20. 20. Groups and Social Access • • • • • Friendships, mentorships formed Less sexual pressure and requirement for sexual capital Trust, sharing Source of “resilience” Opportunities for chosen family development
  21. 21. Groups and Social Access • • • Concern for well-being: absences noticed Queers more likely to age alone, be alienated from biological families Skill sharing and teaching such as transport, tech skills to facilitate online dating
  22. 22. Groups and Social Access • • • • Socialising before and after Cliques to some degree Facilitation can help avoid exclusion Not everyone will make friends from a group- set realistic expectations
  23. 23. Groups and Health Outcomes Not a panacea, but a piece
  24. 24. Groups and Health Outcomes • • Participants check-in reporting a bad day or week, and check-out reporting feeling good Groups can be an escape, positive social experience, a place to laugh, and way to de-stress
  25. 25. Groups and Health Outcomes • • Works against internalized homophobia and minority stress, leading to better holistic health Relief of talking to peers who get your experiences
  26. 26. Groups and Health Outcomes • • • Connection to community health resources Didactic information, discussion Physical health focused groups such as Chronically Queer, Gen Yoga
  27. 27. Groups and Health Outcomes • • Sounding board and availability of trusted facilitators Healthy routine
  28. 28. Groups and Diversity More exposure than might happen organically
  29. 29. Groups and Diversity • • • • • • • • • • • Intergenerational Multicultural Religious Gender identities Gender expression Ability Newcomers and refugees Education Sexual orientations Ideas +++
  30. 30. Groups and Diversity • • • • Understanding of diverse cultural norms and competencies Self-advocacy “Curriculum” diversityopenness, resistance, and water on stone Mostly able to interact positively
  31. 31. Who’s There… and Who’s Missing? Who comes and/or comes back? • Out guys • Gay-identified • Looking for something besides sex • Anticipates their needs being met • Positive previous experiences with groups
  32. 32. Who’s There… and Who’s Missing? Who doesn’t come, or doesn’t come back? • 25-40 • Worried about being outed- whether entering the building or by fellow participants
  33. 33. Who’s There… and Who’s Missing? • • • Embarrassment barrier to discussing topics such as risk or kink face to face. Good facilitation can help overcome this, but only if people show up! Stigma of support group Don’t see self represented- age, cultural background, ability…
  34. 34. Who’s There… and Who’s Missing? • • • • Not engaged with organizations Men who feel alienated from gay community Unable to access the spacemobility, geography, outness, hours, food not provided… Classism
  35. 35. Who’s There… and Who’s Missing? • • Couples First impression was on a slow night, or with a speaker they didn’t identify with
  36. 36. Who’s There… and Who’s Missing? • • • Do groups exclude or create space for introverts, socially anxious men? Perception of what the group is Some like structure, some don’t- you can’t please everyone!
  37. 37. Intentional Inclusiveness • • • Difficult! Inclusive organizational cultures trickle down to programs, groups Outreach to marginalized groups
  38. 38. Intentional Inclusiveness • • • • Diverse non-tokenized speakers Scour your curriculum for oppression Accessibility; Environment, geography, hours, language, facilities… Space for different communication and learning styles
  39. 39. Intentional Inclusiveness • • • • • Space for all levels of English Space for diverse knowledge, experiences, ideas Facilitators trained in anti-oppression Look for oppression and exclusion in discussions; it’s sneaky! Male privilege
  40. 40. Intentional Inclusiveness • Safer space agreement: • Clear • Participant buy-in, contribution to • Pronoun checks • Safe to speak or pass; Space sharing • Empower group to address breaches of safer space in an appropriate way
  41. 41. Intentional Inclusiveness • • • Facilitators must actively have the hard conversations; challenge exclusion and oppression; create learning experiences; model behaviours Cliques are difficult to realistically avoid Don’t get complacent- oppression will always happen!
  42. 42. Sustainability • • • • • Participant ownership Volunteers active in planning and management Staff involved- attend at least at the beginning Groups have agency and responsibility to problem solve Communication among all stakeholders
  43. 43. Sustainability • • • • Facilitators have an opportunity to shadow, train, be mentored Support for facilitators: check-ins, multiple facilitators, relief facilitators or breaks available Facilitators don’t burn candle at both ends: workload and commitments Facilitators, not leaders
  44. 44. Sustainability • • • • Well-selected facilitators with the ability to compartmentalize Make time to really recognize your incredible volunteers! Knowledge sharing between facilitators Debriefing as a habit
  45. 45. Sustainability • Guest speakers, outings, movies, topics, open discussion- mix things up! • Well-briefed speakers who gel with the group • Mix of structured and open time within a session • Relationships focus
  46. 46. Sustainability • • • Assess needs before and during - why are we doing this? Don’t reinvent the wheel What are the actual needs? Do men need a coming out group, or are they finding barriers to accessing queer community?
  47. 47. Sustainability • • • • • Need may come in waves Groups often have a natural shelf life Try for a year before discontinuing a group Promote, partner (more time commitment but more reach and resources) Niche VS numbers
  48. 48. Mind the Gap • • • Promoting privilege Setting oneself up as the sole expert Uninvolved staff
  49. 49. Mind the Gap • • • Underbriefed presenters Underprepared, insufficiently trained facilitators A lot of human variables are inherently unpredictable!
  50. 50. Mind the Gap • • • Organizations can never know for sure if facilitators are working ethically, inclusively Trying to do everything, or prioritizing poorly Ultimately: Insufficient organizational investment, often as a result of trying to do too much
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