In their most general definition, support groups are made up of people who share a common struggle. The issues the group struggles with could be depression, anxiety, addiction, self harm, or any other disorder. Usually a support group will be run by an individual who either has training as a therapist or in managing group discussions and gatherings. All members of the group meet to talk, discuss ideas, share concerns, and help each other deal with their struggles and inner demons. Social workers and counselors can also be involved in support groups, especially if they are related to bereavement after a loved one’s death, dealing with self harm, or thoughts of suicide. Teens can benefit from group therapy and support groups, but many feel self conscious and embarrassed about sharing with a group of strangers. This is why online support groups can be of great help for teenagers.
One of the biggest advantages teenagers can get from any type of support group is the realization that they are not as alone as they many think. Sometimes the biggest help to a struggling teen is to hear that there are others who know what it is like and understands them when they share their thoughts and feelings. This is often a surprising revelation to young adults and comes as a huge relief to the person and helps them get through the issues they are dealing with.
Being an active part of a support group, whether in person or online, can also help teens learn to relate and work with others. Sometimes a change in perspective can help, and hearing about the struggles others go through each day can help them see that maybe their situation is not as bad as it may seem. In addition, the members of the support group can share coping methods, the things they do to make themselves feel better, and what they have learned works well for getting through the issues that they face. Caring about others and sharing ideas to help others can often help teens feel better about themselves and their current situation.
When someone decides to join a support group for the first time, they will likely feel uncomfortable about the idea of discussing their personal thoughts, feelings, and problems in front of strangers. However, once the sharing starts, the members of the group often find that they do start to feel better and that they can have a network of caring and supportive individuals who know what they are going through. In addition, the face to face or online support groups give members a place to share openly in a safe and secure place where everything is kept confidential and within that group, which is just what most people need in order to cope with the issues and inner demons that they face.