Support Groups Offer Help and Healing

There is such a wide variety of support groups in the public domain, and while some offer more value than others, in general most are undervalued. Whether a group centers on mental health, addiction, or health conditions, people who take the courageous step of joining often find the experience encouraging, cathartic and affirming. Support groups are as much for the person dealing directly with the issue as they are for those around the person they care for or about.

Effective support groups offer members a number of helpful and healing benefits on the road to reclamation and recovery. First off, realizing you are not alone is a great relief. And because there so many types of support groups, while you can find many mainstream focuses like AA and Alzheimer’s, you can also find obscure support groups like On-Line Gamers Anonymous and Road Rage Support Groups. Whatever your difficulty is, interacting with those who have “walked a mile in your shoes” is encouraging and validating.

Furthermore, being around others who share or have conquered the same burdens is helpful. Often members find it easier to open up about what is truly troubling them without feeling embarrassed or persecuted. This can also help members evolve emotionally and interpersonally. They gain their ability to voice their feelings and emotions. And getting feedback from other members and the facilitator can provide a great problem solving and learning experience, such as learning what has worked (or not) for others. They can also get great tips and insight, and receive recommendations on relevant books, articles, and websites from others in the group.

Support groups can provide a sense of hope or the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Many times the facilitator started as the newbie and has “made it out the other side” to help spread hope and healing through their experience, knowledge and leadership. Seasoned members add great value too. They see themselves in the newer members and can relate as they progress through the steps of recovery or stages of grief or loss. We often hear of caregiver support group members whose loved one has passed on, but still continue to attend because they feel a calling to help the newer members.

Messiah Lifeways offers and/or hosts a variety of support groups. Some groups are open to the general public, such as the Caregiver Support Groups offered by Messiah Lifeways Adult Day. The Mechanicsburg site hosts a group the 3rd Monday of every month at 3:30 pm at Messiah Lifeways at Messiah Village in the Fountain Room. Call 717.790.8224 for details. A second group meets at Messiah Lifeways Adult Day Carlisle the 1st Monday of every month at 4:00 pm in Room 103 of The Meeting House–Carlisle Campus. Call 717.243.0447 for details.

You can also visit PA211.com to learn about a wide variety of other support groups in your area or contact your local Area Agency on Aging. For more information about support groups, please contact Messiah Lifeways Coaching by emailing coach@messiahlifeways.org or call 717.591.7225.

Matthew J. Gallardo

Matthew J. Gallardo

Matt is the Director of Community Engagement and Coaching at Messiah Lifeways. He brings nearly 20 years of experience in counseling, advocating, and guiding older adults and caregivers through many of life’s tough decisions. His diverse background of working in hospital and rehabilitation settings, community services, and senior housing gives him the breadth and depth of knowledge to provide unique solutions, opportunities, and help individuals proactively plan for the future. He serves as the Lifeways Coach and as a writer, blogger, podcaster, and speaker for Messiah Lifeways, located in Mechanicsburg, PA.

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