NEW JERSEY SELF-HELP GROUP CLEARINGHOUSE
375 East McFarlan St., Dover, NJ 07801 * 1-800-367-6274 or 973-989-1122 * www.njgroups.org
SOME COMMON GROUP PROBLEMS
The "Pity Party" Symptoms: Meeting Turns Into a Complaint Session: Members "dump" their problems on the group and other group members don't offer solutions or support; they just offer more complaints. There is no balance of people talking about their problems and others relating their own experiences in dealing with similar problems or offering solutions. This can have an avalanche effect that is difficult to stop.
Possible Solutions: Don't move on to another person's problem until the first one has been addressed. This will stop the "snowball" effect of other people jumping in with the same complaints. It also reinforces the idea that a support group is a place to get ideas on how to deal with problems rather than just a place to talk and not do anything about those problems. Remind group that support groups should be positive, and members should mention the progress that they are making. Sometimes people don't want to take time away from someone who is having difficulty, but talking about progress is a very important part of a support group. They can offer others suggestions and strategies for improvement. Put something in the ground rules that each member must state something positive that happened to them since the last meeting. If many people in the group have the same specific problem, ask them to think about possible ways to deal with the problem in between meetings, and talk about their thoughts at the next group meeting. This is a good way to get people to take positive action. Make sure that the agenda sets aside time for members to discuss what they've thought about or learned in between meetings. Ask members which of these ideas they plan to use. This puts the emphasis on making progress and...