After a difficult life event or diagnosis, the last thing you may feel like doing is sharing your experience, grief, and struggles with others. However, social support groups can have a positive impact on the mental processing of trauma, decreasing feelings of loneliness and isolation, and instilling hope.
Katie Caffrey, PhD a Clinical Psychologist at Palouse Psychiatry & Behavioral Health, says support groups can be beneficial for both individuals and caregivers.
“While support groups are not a replacement for evidence-based individual or group psychotherapy, they are often effective in terms of facilitating social support,” says Caffrey. Support groups can reduce feelings of isolation or loneliness, provide opportunities for emotional processing and validation, reduce stigma related to problems addressed in the group, and help members maintain motivation to engage in treatment plans. Support groups can also instill hope and confidence in coping with difficulties- others are going through the same or similar things.
“Participants need to be discerning about information they obtain from support group participants,” cautions Caffrey, but “these groups can also facilitate learning more about specific problems and treatment options, as well as coping strategies other group members have found to be effective.” Caffrey suggests seeking out groups that are run by a licensed mental health professional, if available.
The Pullman Regional Hospital Center for Learning & Innovation is a hub of information, resources, and connections to local support groups. Noel Nicolai, PhD is the Center for Learning & Innovation’s Healthier Communities Coordinator. Nicolai says that “the diagnosis of long-term or critical illness is overwhelming. They impact personal relationships, careers, medical and day-to-day decisions. Whether you’ve been recently diagnosed, managing your condition for a while, or caring for someone with a difficult medical diagnosis, a support group can be helpful to alleviate stress and provide additional resources.” She adds that “support groups show that you’re not alone.”
Support groups through Pullman Regional Hospital include:
- Autism Spectrum Support Group
- Breast Cancer Support Group
- Breastfeeding Support Group
- Caregivers Coffee and Support Group
- Community Grief Support Group
- Fibromyalgia Lupus Education & Support Group
- Palouse Mental Illness & Advocacy Support Group
- Palouse Parkinson’s Support Group
- Type 1 Diabetes Virtual Support Group
- Work in Progress AA Group
- 12-Step Men Group
A full list of support groups, information on attending, group facilitator contact information, and digital resources can be found at pullmanregional.org/support-groups. Please note that due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, some support groups have paused meetings or moved to a virtual setting- please contact the support group facilitator for meeting information.