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Members Helping Members
Sometimes it is hard to know how to support fellow members. Are you:
If so, then we can help! Please carefully read the following information the Health Education team has put together to help you help others.
Listening and Supporting Skills
Individuals seeking support just want to feel heard. Showing another member that you are listening (or reading) can be difficult over the internet. Here are some basic listening skills you can apply in the forums:
Paraphrasing: Paraphrasing is when you repeat what the (other) member has said.
Open Ended Questions: Questions that require more than a one word answer.
Summarizing: Summarize what the member has said and what has been discussed.
Elaboration: To promote more discussion and to clarify further, ask for elaboration.
In our society the expression of negative emotions is often discouraged. Individuals with mental illness are sometimes told to stop whining or to just "snap out of it." This can lead the individual to think that their feelings are invalid; therefore, they never address the underlying causes of these feelings.
By reflecting and validating the members emotions we are making them feel heard and understood; this in itself is therapeutic. The following are a few techniques on how to reflect emotions:
Do’s and Don’ts
Sometimes it is hard to know how to support fellow members. Are you :
The support group should be an empowering and positive environment; using positive language helps create a positive atmosphere. Sometimes it can be difficult to remain positive, especially when members, and possibly you, are going through a difficult time. It is not always possible to put a positive spin on a situation; however, there are skills that can be applied that can help you be more positive in your posts.
Draw out the member’s strengths:
Recognize the member for the unique and capable individual that they are. All human beings want to feel valued and sometimes the people who need it the most get the least recognition. If you feel that a member is kind, compassionate, strong, driven, articulate, poetic, or humourous, etc. tell her/him and let that member know how you see her/him. Many members may be starving for this sort of recognition and will respond with increased confidence and possibly become more open to discussion. That being said, it is important for the acknowledgement to be authentic and not forced.
Reinforce to the member that they have the strength to achieve their goals. Empower the member to recognize this strength. Empowerment means to encourage the member to realize their own potential and their innate ability to control their own future. Through empowerment we are assisting members to gain the confidence, skills, resources and motivation they need in order to take control of their lives. We want the members to have the strength to follow their own unique values and live a fulfilled and healthy life.
Use positive language:
It is easy to dwell on the negative; simply discussing the matter in a different tone can help put things into perspective. For instance, instead of saying:
Also, try to positively reframe a situation to make members aware of the good in a situation. Sometimes it can be difficult to see the good in a situation when you are the one going through it. Point out to the member the positives you see in their situation without minimizing how they feel. For instance:
Although helping others has benefits for the helper and helped, it can be taken to the extreme. It is possible to become too invested and then feel overwhelmed or stressed due to another member’s problems. If you ever feel that you are becoming too invested in another member’s problems you need to take time for yourself.
Remember, although we all care for each other in the support group it does not help anyone to worry about another’s problems. To be blunt but realistic, it is not your problem. You need to take care of yourself before you can take care of others.