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Specific support group topics depend on the overall subject of the individual support group. For example, members of a substance abuse support group might talk about the way using drugs has affected their lives, while members of a depression support group might discuss how they deal with certain medication side effects. Still, most support groups spend their meeting times in common ways, such as talking about one another’s experiences or sharing ideas with a member who is currently experiencing a problem. Beyond specific support group topics, many groups plan special support group activities to reach more members or raise funds for their group. The ways in which support group topics are chosen depend on the various types of support groups out there, but most groups appoint a facilitator, take a vote, or both.
Common kinds of support group topics include sharing experiences, discussing current treatment options, and offering suggestions or advice for members’ current situations. Sometimes, members will discuss responses to questions posed during the previous meeting. Depending on the support group, members might keep journals related to the subject of the support group and share their entries during meetings.
Many groups turn to guest speakers to cover certain support group topics. Doctors, therapists, and authors with specialties or experience with the group’s overall subject are common choices for guest speakers. Generally, these speakers make some sort of formal or informal presentation and then spend time answering questions and discussing ideas with the members.
Often, support groups incorporate activities into their schedules. For example, a support group might plan a community event such as a picnic or fair to help raise awareness about its issue. Other common kinds of support group activities include special luncheons or dinners, yard sales, or trips to local or regional attractions. Groups use these activities to attract new members, raise money, and strengthen their own bond.
Typically, the dynamics of the support group will determine who decides on the types of support group topics members discuss. For example, some support groups appoint one or two people to act as leaders or facilitators, and these people might be in charge of determining topics. Some groups prefer to place a different person in charge for each meeting, and this person will come up with a new topic. Whether they have a facilitator or not, most groups prefer to vote on upcoming topics. It’s not a guarantee, but voting does help ensure each member obtains what he needs and is satisfied with the group.