If you are motivated to start a support group in your area, here are some tips. Many parents have had great success by putting a notice in a church bulletin or school newspaper to invite other parents who have children with clinical problems to get together. Dessert is important!
I like to have Support Group Meetings in three parts. During the first part, everybody gets to vent and let go of all their concerns since the last meeting. The best way to do this is with a “talking stick” with a 1.5 or 3 minute sand timer hot glued to the top. Any stick or dowel that is approximately three-foot by one-inch will do. Note: This is not for beating each other over the head! It is for passing to the person who wants to speak next. They start the timer, and when time is up, they have to pass the stick. In this manner, everyone gets a chance to speak–no one can ‘hog’ the floor. When the time allowed for this section of the meeting is over, no more negatives or complaints are allowed.
We shift gears during part two. The second part of the meeting is the ‘sharing of the sugar’. Potluck desserts work well for this. Or, members can take turns stopping by the local bakery.
The third and final part of the support meeting is for sharing triumphs and joys! A time for sharing ideas and strategies that parents have found successful–to help each other. It’s a time of pointing out each others strengths and gifts. The meeting should end on a high note, on time. Keep it short and it will be powerfully effective!