Facilitating a support group can be a rewarding and challenging experience. Here are some tips to help you facilitate a successful support group:

1. Be clear about the date, time, and venue: Send a simple, easy to read email to members interested in attending. Ask Ops Support to help by advertising your meeting to members on our website, member emails or magazine if you wish.

2. Break the ice - encourage members to start the conversation with questions like these:

  • Who has been to one of these meetings before?
  • How have you all been getting on with managing your Addison's since we last met with the weather / accessing care / medication, seasonal bugs, travel, exercise etc.?
  • is anyone newly diagnosed and need support?
  • Has anyone learned anything new about their condition since we last met?
  • Has anyone some good news to share?

3. Set clear guidelines: Make sure everyone understands the ADSHG Social Meeting House Rules and is comfortable with them. This can help ensure a safe and supportive environment.

4. Build trust: Encourage open communication and create an environment where members feel safe to share their thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment or criticism.

5. Encourage 'active' listening: 

  • Use your face and body to show them that you're paying attention. You can nod your head, look at them, and lean in a little bit.
  • Try repeating back what the person said to make sure you understand them. You can say things like, "So, you're saying that..." or "Let me make sure I got that right, you mean..."
  • Try to find a quiet place to talk and turn off any devices that might distract you. Listening can be hard if there are lots of things going on around you.
  • Try and understand how they're feeling. You can do this by asking questions and showing that you care. You can say things like, "That sounds really tough," or "I'm sorry you're going through that."

6. Encourage people to take part: Create an environment where everyone feels comfortable taking part. Encourage quieter members to share their thoughts and feelings and ensure that more outspoken members don't dominate the conversation.

7. Manage conflicts: Address conflicts that arise in a respectful and constructive manner. Encourage members to express their concerns in a respectful manner and work collaboratively to find solutions.

8. Be flexible: Be prepared to adjust the structure and focus of the group based on the needs of the members. Flexibility can help keep the group relevant and engaging.

9. Keep confidentiality: Maintain confidentiality and ensure that members understand the importance of keeping what is shared in the group confidential.

10. Provide resources: Provide information and resources that can help members cope with their challenges. Please keep to  books, articles, and online resources from the ADSHG, the NHS or healthcare professionals.

11. End on a positive note: End each meeting on a positive note by thanking everyone for sharing their experiences and sharing the date of the next meeting.

12. Send a follow-up email: It can be helpful to note and then send an email to attendees with any resources or information you've shared at the meeting so that they can do some further reading afterwards if they wish to.

13. If you become concerned about your wellbeing or safety, or that of any of your attendees: Please get in touch with us as soon as possible for advice before taking any action or discussing the matter with others.

By following these tips, you can create a supportive and productive environment that helps members cope with their challenges and build resilience.