Need ideas for Group Therapy Support program

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by DammitJanet, May 17, 2010.

  1. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I have been chosen to be the "team leader" of a group therapy program that will meet either every two weeks or every week. Schedule isnt set in stone at this point. Right now it is just women but it may be opened up to men too at some point.

    It covers all mental illnesses but at the moment the only diagnosis's involved are BiPolar (BP) or Major Depression.

    I am trying to figure out just how to run this thing. It has been in session for about 2 and a half months prior to this and we worked on a WRAP notebook. Now that is done and the therapists want to turn it over to the me since I was run as a support group.

    My thoughts would be for it to have a "theme" for each week but also to be somewhat open for support.

    Say I could get information about Social Security Disability with the booklets from them to pass out if people need information and I could answer information and then we could just talk.

    Another week we could have information about childhood bipolar, another week medication protocols and where to look these up online, other weeks information on each of the major disorders. Then we could have information on advocating for ourselves or our kids.

    Can anyone think of anything else I could put into this. I need to come up with a list to print out by Thursday to discuss with the group.

  2. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    I wonder...something that worked well at meetings of an association I used to belong to was a Question-Answer forum.
    The way it worked was: Someone who had a need would write it down on the list with their name. Someone who could fulfill the need would then write their name on the list, in a different column, different colour.
    Once everyone had identified something they needed and-or could contribute, everyone was given a chance to group up and talk about things, share information, solve each others problems etc.

    This might work with sharing information about community resources, mental health services, what works and what doesn`t...that sort of thing.

    Another thought might be to have something like a book club once every 3rd or 4th meeting, where the book you read is focused on mental illness. This might work especially well if you meet bi-weekly. It would give people a chance to get the book from the library, read it and think about it, and prepare to discuss it within the group.

    I don`t know if either of these is suitable, but it`s what popped into my head.

  3. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Very good ideas! Love them in fact.

    Keep em coming!
  4. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    This is an exercise I used as an ice-breaker in a class I taught on communication skills many years ago.

    The Non-Verbal Introduction Exercise
    1. Working in pairs, 'interview' each other
    2. Find out as much as possible about your partner
    3. You may use gestures, facial expressions, etc., but no spoken OR written words
    4. Introduce your partner to the rest of your table group
    5. Your partner can then add to, delete from or correct the information

    The main purpose was to get people thinking about how difficult it is to communicate when there is a significant barrier in your way, and how misunderstandings and confusion are easy. It also gets people in tune with each other`s body language, which is good in a setting where people need to be open with each other later.

    Again, not sure if this is suitable for your support group, but it might be something you can keep in your back pocket in case you need it.
  5. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    I like your ideas, but I think you also need to have practical information, as well. Such as:

    Recognizing the signs when you are heading towards mania or depression. What can you do to stop the spiral?

    Write down a list of people in their lives who are supportive and they can call when they need help.

    How to handle stress when dealing with the overwhelming emotions of BiPolar (BP) or MDD. When to make important decisions and when it might be best to wait.

    Relaxation techniques - you could actually play a relaxation CD during group.

    How to deal with the stigma that still exists. Learning to accept this disorder and not be ashamed of yourself because of it.

    Thinking of things that we did in group in the psychiatric hospital. I don't know at what point your group is at, but I think those are things that need to be revisited from time to time. You know how hard it is to come up with these things when you're in crisis.
  6. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Adding to what Heather said, with practical info, you could discuss things similar to the news stories on the home page here. I'm always interested in a new theory, either to ease symptoms or to explain changes in symptoms. For example, today on our local news, they mentioned a study possibly linking ADHD to pesticide use. Interesting theory, since this is farming country, and I'd be interested in following that one.
  7. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Maybe it's just my own personal experience but this sounds like a class more than group therapy. In my experience, group therapy has been an opportunity for each person to discuss a particular issue going on with him/her and get group feedback about it. It is good though to have a topic ready to throw out as a start for a discussion as an ice breaker.
  8. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Heather...that is what we did in WRAP. WRAP stands for Wellness Recovery Action Plan. It is a set of skills and strategies to help a person deal with mental illness.

    My theory for what it is worth, is that new people should go through that group before coming into "my" support group but I dont know if they will actually go for that.

    KTmom...I could print those articles out easily. Anything I run across that I need printed is not a problem.

    K...its not a class, its not really group therapy because it is going to be designed eventually to be run by clients with only oversight by therapists, so it will be more like a support group. I was elected because of several things. One, I am felt to have a lot of knowledge of mental health. Two, I have a big mouth. And three, they know I have experience with being on this board which to them seems to cross over to support in real life.
  9. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    I would think that the most important part of the support group is the SUPPORT.

    After all....we come to this group for a variety of reasons. Sometimes we are looking for information. Sometimes we need friendship. But mostly, we come here to write about our feelings, our trials and tribulations and to feel as though we are understood by others who are going through similar struggles.

    So whatever you do for "ice breakers" or education, I think you you make sharing the biggest part of your meeting. And if folks really need to share a lot--maybe the educational elements could even be delayed until next time when particpants are not feeling as talkative.

    Just my two cents....
  10. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thats my feeling too DF. I want to have a topic to be the "goal" of the meeting but that we can just talk...though it cant just get into a *itching session because that can get out of hand quickly. There is nothing like a group of bipolar/borderline folks to really go into a tangent. You do have to attempt to set a few limits. If you think it can get bad here...omgosh..lmao. You should have heard us going off about one of the psychiatrists they have at that agency. Suffice it to say he isnt well liked. The words he was called wouldnt make it past the censors here.