Cdg support group meeting guidelines and tips


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Cdg support group meeting guidelines and tips

  1. 1. Support Group Meeting Guidelines and TipsThe following guidelines and tips should assist you as you determine the logistics of, prepare for, andfacilitate your support group meetings.LogisticsYour meeting location should: Be in a room with comfortable seating where participants can face one another, and preferably not in a classroom Not be affiliated with the campus counseling center or campus ministry to ensure that attendees do not make a false association or feel uncomfortable Be in an accessible building Be well-litThe support group meeting should last approximately and hour and occur on a weekday (Tuesday orWednesday is often preferred) and at a time when the majority of students do not have classes and canattend. Consideration should be given to the student body make-up and general class scheduling. Forexample, a commuter school chapter may wish to hold their meetings during lunchtime or after the lastclass dismissal for the day (perhaps 4pm or 5pm). A predominately residential school chapter may prefer8pm or 9pm. Solicit feedback from kickoff meeting attendees as to the best day and time for your chapter.Support group meetings should take place every two weeks on the same day, at the same time, and inthe same location. Even if it seems no one is going to show up for a meeting, it is imperative that thesupport group leader remain in the location for the entire meeting in case someone arrives late or makesa last minute decision to come.Meeting Structure(led by the Support Group Director, Chapter President, or other designated facilitator) Introduce yourself and ask others to do the same; ask others to share, if they are comfortable, why they are attending Ask group members to complete the sign-in sheet and assure them that their names and information will not be shared outside the group Remind the group of the chapter’s mission Distribute and review the Code of Ethics and Coping with Grief in College documents with the group if all attendees have not already seen it Ask someone (who has previously agreed) to share his/her “story” for 5-10 minutes; encourage “sharers” to bring items (photos, songs, poems, etc.) related to their loved one to show others Ask the group if they have had similar experiences or feelings Allow the group discussion to progress at a natural pace and in the direction the group wants to go Ask if anyone will open the next meeting by sharing their story Mention the availability and effectiveness of seeing a counselor in the school’s counseling center along with attending the support group Close the meeting by sharing information about upcoming events, meetings, and leadership openings Ask for help spreading the word about Students of AMF on campus Optionally, end with everyone hugging each person before they leaveTips for Facilitating a Support Group MeetingThe role of the facilitator is to help the conversation proceed and to ensure all who want to participate inthe discussion have an opportunity to do so. The facilitator should not act as a counselor, problem solver,or expert. To serve as a facilitator, it is not necessary to have specific training or experience in facilitatinggroup discussion as long as you are enthusiastic, friendly, a good listener and able to think on your feet.The following tips can help as you facilitate a Students of AMF support group meeting.4 April 2011 version 1.0 Page | 1
  2. 2. Support Group Meeting Guidelines and Tips Be respectful, warm, caring and empathetic Help create an inclusive environment where people respect each other and feel comfortable sharing their private thoughts and feelings Encourage everyone to participate at their own comfort level; do not call on someone if they prefer to remain silent Allow group members time to speak; do not try to fill silence but, rather, allow others to do so Allow the discussion to go where it will but, when needed, bring the group back to the core topics related to the effects of grief on their lives Be flexible; members’ needs are far more important than discussion topics Utilize active listening skills that include: o Paraphrasing what was just said as a way to clarify to the rest of the group o Encouraging comparison by asking questions like “How have others of us responded to this problem?” o Summarizing at the end of topics with statements such as “We seem to have discussed several areas of concern today” o Perception checking with responses such as “Is that right? Wow.” o Encouraging description and exploration with questions like “What was that like for you?”At times a facilitator may be faced with difficult situations that detract from the group dynamic. In theseinstances, you can use these strategies and responses to get the group back on track.Situation ResponseFor the person who dominates the discussion “I can see this is a subject that brings out a lot of issues for you; does anyone else have a similar experience?”For the quiet member who does not speak Ask the group: “Does anyone else have anything they’d like to share with the group?” Do not specifically call anyone out to speak, members can attend and never talk if they dont want to.If a member wants advice “Does anyone have some ideas?” As the facilitator, do NOT give advice. Ask the group for help with advice.For the person who is very sad “Its ok to cry. This is a very sad situation that you are in. We are all here for you.”When you don’t know the answer “Does anyone in the group have experience with this?”When the meeting hits a dull patch “Would anyone like to share something positive that’s happened since we last met?”Responding to the member who cries A simple “I understand,” accompanied by a hug or arm around the shoulder can speak volumes. A support group is the most appropriate place in the world for people to cry, but it is important that they don’t become embarrassed.4 April 2011 version 1.0 Page | 2