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How do I start a Support Group in my area?

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#1 Jeffrey Roberts

Jeffrey Roberts

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Posted 11 January 2001 - 01:37 AM

STARTING A SUPPORT GROUPStarting an IBS Support Group is a very rewarding experience. The hard work in starting and maintaining a support group is mutually beneficial for sufferers, their families and the group leader.Who Should Lead a Support Group?It is important that a support group is led by someone who knows what the illness feels like. For this reason, it is ideal for a patient to lead a support group. It is common for the patient-leaders to invite trained facilitators or someone from the medical community to talk to the group.Determine Group ObjectivesIn order to start a support group you will need to determine the objectives for your support group. Is it to share common symptoms and remedies, to discuss the latest breakthroughs in IBS research, or perhaps both?Find a Place, Find a TimeYou will have to determine how often and where you would like to meet. One approach for a meeting location is to contact a local hospital or community center to ask them for space.Ask For Assistance and Stay In TouchWith the objectives and logistics determined, contact your doctor and GI specialist. Let them know you are starting a support group and explain to them your group's objectives. Offer to send them flyers so they can inform their patients about upcoming meetings.It may also be useful to determine if there is a self-help clearinghouse serving your area (these are organizations that maintain listings of community-run groups that provide information or aid to individuals who are afflicted with or want information about a condition or illness). If such a group exists, contact them and ask what assistance they can give you in advertising your group.Have Your First MeetingAt the meeting, ask attendees to discuss their personal objectives. Delegate responsibilities. Ask for volunteers to assist with phone calls and arranging for guest speakers.Consider Starting a Self-Help Group NewsletterAfter several successful meetings, consider starting a newsletter. Think small. You want to generate interest for current members and generate interest for new members.General AdviceExpect slow periods where there is little interest. Stay in touch with the members and re-evaluate what the objectives are. Leading a support group can be a very rewarding experience, and certainly participating in such a group is rewarding for the attendees. An excellent resource on the internet for starting a Self Help Group is If you decide to start a support group, contact us with your group's information and he will place it on the IBS Group website.##


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