317 St. Francis Dr. Suite 350
Greenville, SC 29601

317 St. Francis Dr.
Suite 350
Greenville, SC 29601
Tel: 1-864-235-1834, Fax: 1-864-235-2486

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Starting a Support Group

Starting a Support Group
by Louise Plaster


  • Education
  • Education on illness
  • Learn coping skills
  • hare experiences with others
  • Support Buddy System
  • Socialize
  • Research
  • To continue to push for Awareness of problem
  • To push for more written material
  • Lead to better understanding of illness
  • Lead to better treatments
  • Empowerment
  • Create situations where empowerment can be learned

Where to start:

Find place to meet Hospitals, churches, restaurant and etc. Ask doctor for help Start with personal doctor treating illness Where to find people:

Advertise – for free Local newspaper – Call and ask for health editor Small town or independent newspapers – contact editor Contact TV stations Talk to health care reporter Supply non-technical information to all Educate them to get their attention to want to do a story on subject Make Business cards Contact person and phone number Meeting time and day Web address and e-mail address Take to doctor offices Take to other healthcare offices


Stay Flexible Unable to predict who or how many will attend Guest Speakers Visit other group meetings, seminars and conferences to listen to speakers Pick speakers knowledgeable about your supports group’s interest. Don’t just have speakers on the certain disease. Invite also speakers that deal with other issues that affect the patient and can help them to “learn” how to cope with their illness or problem. Be careful of people who want to push or sell a product or service.

The Meeting

Have refreshments, ask for at least two volunteers a month to bring refreshments


Depends on chair arrangements in meeting room If able put in circle for group discussion especially when new people are attending Some rooms have tables. This can be helpful for guest speakers.


Everyone has to have the opportunity to speak. Not everyone may want to speak but it’s good idea to acknowledge them and give them the option Have open discussions meetings or topic discussions when there are no guest speakers. Plan events or activities that people in the group can participate in. Conferences Going out to a restaurant Plan to meet at the movies,etc Holiday celebrations Ask for suggestions for guest speakers, topics or projects. Have projects where people can use their skills and experience. This can help people to build their self-esteem and confidence.

Misc. Tips:

Write a mission statement, a reminder of why the support group was established in the first place. This helps to keep everyone focused on primary goals and lets people know what the purpose of the group is. Don’t get hung up on titles and politics. Bring together people who have similar ideas, drive, determination and dedication to help get the group going and to keep it going.

Everyone has talents and resources. Let people use them.

Importance of a Mission Statement

A Mission Statement has an important role in a support group. It can be the beacon to keep the group on course of what it wants to accomplish. Write the Mission Statement to reflect why the support group was formed. It may be adjusted later on after group is more established.

Tips for a Successful Meeting

Encourage family and friends to attend. Allow time for social time. People learn from talking to each other. Include positive things in your meeting. Projecting positive energy draws positive energy. Include Laughter it¹s good medicine. Have refreshments. Ask for volunteers or form a refreshment committee. Give everyone a chance to speak. It is the person¹s choice to speak or not. Have guest speakers on a variety of subjects. Send out reminder cards for the support group meetings. Phone others to remind them of meetings and special events.

Meeting Ideas

Speakers on support group interests Ex. RSD, Cancer, Diabetics Treatment options Coping skills Disablity Issues Social Security Workers Compensation Doctor ­Patient Relationship Improving Communication Gadgets that help a person make it through the day Self-defense Open discussions Insurance information Drugs and their side effects Acupuncture Nutrition Physical Therapy Alternative Treatments

Starting A Support Group by Louise Plaster