So you’ve reached that point in your journey when you’re finally considering to get busy, get help, and be proactive about your mental health. Since you clicked on this article, it shows me you’ve made up your mind on getting better. That’s great!
The very first piece of information you must hold is that support groups and therapy sessions are very different. Group therapy is a formal treatment organized by a trained mental health specialist for several people with similar conditions. As Mayo Clinic mentions, support groups on the other hand, may be formed simply by someone that is afflicted by a certain condition, or is interested in it, but there are no requirements for this person to be trained in any way or have any specific background in the field.
Regardless of your decision for one or the other, the first questions you may ask yourself when thinking about joining “support groups” or “group therapy” probably sound something like this “Is it for me?” “Do they really help with my particular problem?” “Is it any good, considering I won’t receive the individual attention I need?” and of course “Won’t it be awkward to open myself up to total strangers?”
We found 10 reasons why online programs based on peer interaction work perfectly and 3 improvements that could be made to current systems and how you can go around those shortages.
You (yes, YOU) are welcomed!
Where you live, your money, your looks, your skin color, your gender or sexuality, none of these matter. In online support groups there is one, just one important thing: to be open to receive and give support. To be kind and respectful of yourself and others. Whether you are struggling with mental illness, or suffer from a physical condition, there are support groups for each of us. Support groups are created exactly in order to bring together people that understand each other, no judgment, no waiting lists.
Your schedule is the only one to worry about
Now this one goes only for support groups. Online counseling and group therapy sessions happen at a predetermined time usually set by the therapist hosting the sessions. You are very likely to find a timetable that works for you, but support groups are usually more open in this regard. We tried to combine both benefits: moderators trained in psychotherapy and coaching are online 24/7 and answer your questions and initiate discussions, so that you have an expert there with you to fit into your hours, in addition to the community that brings their warmness and heartfelt replies within the support groups. However, please, always make sure to take the time for therapy, support groups, even those on our website that are mediated by trained professionals, are only complementary to your recovery.
Nothing is too big or too small
Whether you have a serious physical condition, or your mental health is what worries you, or you have some difficulties in your relationship, maybe, are very shy and clumsy when talking to someone you‘re attracted to, maybe you need some help as a new parent, whatever it is, talking about it can make a huge difference and I’m sure deep down you know this to be true.
It’s not just for you, but for your loved ones as well
Having a dear one going through tough times is heartbreaking. Most times we keep reading online articles on what can we do, what can we say, how can we best empathize with them? I admire people that are active supporters in the life of family and friends, but why not join support groups and ask others that really know what they’re talking about? In our categories you can easily find topics already discussed by our members and read about what our community and moderators have to say, but I encourage you to start your own topic or leave your own comment and see how much insight you will get.
If you didn’t meet them, that doesn’t mean they won’t understand
Talking to strangers may feel awkward at first. However, the fact that other people are going through a similar situation can help you really open up and talk about what’s concerning you. Friends and loved ones, although are very involved and care deeply about what you’re going through, may not fully grasp the weight you’re carrying on your shoulders. It can feel like trying to explain things in a foreign language you’ve never learned, until you speak about it with people that were going through it as well.
Join anonymously, speak freely
In this case, the anonymity provided by the online world is indeed a plus. Maybe you want to talk things through, but are too shy in letting everyone one know that it is you going through it. You may disclose your identity if you’d like, but you have the option of speaking anonymously if that makes you completely open up and feel comfortable enough to vent, express yourself and release negative emotions.
Realize that you’re not in this alone
The biggest advantage of support groups is that you come to feel less isolated. As you meet your support group members you come to feel less isolated and realize much more clearly that there are others out there that share the same difficulties. This realization makes the loneliness of illness come to an end. It quickly turns from that defeatist “Why is this happening to me?” to a proactive “How can we best improve ourselves together?”.
Coping skills on steroids
Seeing how others are coping with the same problems you are facing can considerably improve your own problem solving mechanisms. Hearing honest opinions, trying out new strategies, witnessing recoveries, receiving constant encouragements will help you develop your own path in finding solutions whether you are facing a mental health issue, chronic illness or are experiencing work related burnout.
Being online means being mobile. You can add your topic while on the bus to work, or while waiting in line at the cash register. You can check answers whenever you have a spare moment, and you can do so by computer, phone or tablet. Online programs are very accessible within your time frames, and you should be able to invest each spare minute in your recovery, not just during appointments and not just in specific locations.
Some questions are better left unsaid
Just joking! No. Nothing is better left unsaid. In online support groups you should be certain that each question is very valuable to ask, both for you and for other members. It’s always best to ask a doctor, but if you’re shy, maybe you can build your courage by firstly asking your questions online. Find out what to expect from your medication, how to adhere to treatment, how to deal with side effects, what changes to expect in your love life, how to confront the stigma at your workplace and so much more. Literally, every little thing can be discussed.
Post you topic in a Support Group and start your path for improvement.
We’ve talked about the time convenient aspect and how both the community members and our moderators prioritize your schedule. We have also talked about the importance of therapy and the ease that comes along with using online programs. Group therapy depends on set hours, e-counseling is appointment-based as well and can be very expensive, whereas support groups are easy to join and are a great tool, but usually there’s no one guiding them. But that is precisely where we come in. We’ve created a system that has a bit of everything. While TheHumanTheBody is in no way a substitute for therapy, our support groups are professionally mediated, the therapists and coaches are online 24/7 and we sincerely encourage you to test it out, so much so that we that our service is free of charge.
Don’t let yourself be reduced to your condition, take control over your mind now!