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The Value of Support Groups and how they Operate. Human problems catered for Support groups Benefits and value of support groups The organisation of support groups. The Presenter. Adelbert Scholtz – Retired pastor (NG Kerk) Part-time lecturer: practical theology & pastoral care (UFS)

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The value of support groups and how they operate

The Value of Support Groups and how they Operate

Human problems catered for

Support groups

Benefits and value of support groups

The organisation of support groups

The presenter
The Presenter

Adelbert Scholtz –

  • Retired pastor (NG Kerk)

  • Part-time lecturer: practical theology & pastoral care (UFS)

  • Registered counselling psychologist in private practice

Human problems
Human Problems

Support groups hope to cater for

people with the following human problems:

  • Mood disorders

  • Adjustment disorders

  • Anxiety disorders

Mood disorders
Mood Disorders

  • Depression

  • Bi-Polar Disorder


ICD-10 (WHO):

In typical mild, moderate, or severe depressive episodes, the patient suffers from lowering of mood, reduction of energy, and decrease in activity. Capacity for enjoyment, interest, and concentration is reduced, and marked tiredness after even minimum effort is common. Sleep is usually disturbed and appetite diminished. Self-esteem and self-confidence are almost always reduced and, even in the mild form, some ideas of guilt or worthlessness are often present.

Bi polar disorder
Bi-Polar Disorder


A disorder characterized by two or more episodes in which the patient's mood and activity levels are significantly disturbed, this disturbance consisting on some occasions of an elevation of mood and increased energy and activity (hypomania or mania) and on others of a lowering of mood and decreased energy and activity (depression). Repeated episodes of hypomania or mania only are classified as bipolar.

Adjustment disorders
Adjustment Disorders

  • Bereavement

  • Divorce

Adjustment disorders1
Adjustment Disorders


States of subjective distress and emotional disturbance, usually interfering with social functioning and performance, arising in the period of adaptation to a significant life change or a stressful life event. The stressor may have affected the integrity of an individual's social network (bereavement, separation experiences) or the wider system of social supports and values (migration, refugee status), or represented a major developmental transition or crisis (going to school, becoming a parent, failure to attain a cherished personal goal, retirement).

Anxiety disorders
Anxiety Disorders

  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Generalised anxiety disorders
Generalised Anxiety Disorders


A group of disorders in which anxiety is evoked only, or predominantly, in certain well-defined situations that are not currently dangerous. As a result these situations are characteristically avoided or endured with dread. The patient's concern may be focused on individual symptoms like palpitations or feeling faint and is often associated with secondary fears of dying, losing control, or going mad. Contemplating entry to the phobic situation usually generates anticipatory anxiety. Phobic anxiety and depression often coexist. Whether two diagnoses, phobic anxiety and depressive episode, are needed, or only one, is determined by the time course of the two conditions and by therapeutic considerations at the time of consultation.

Post traumatic stress disorder ptsd
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)


Arises as a delayed or protracted response to a stressful event or situation (of either brief or long duration) of an exceptionally threatening or catastrophic nature, which is likely to cause pervasive distress in almost anyone. Typical features include episodes of repeated reliving of the trauma in intrusive memories ("flashbacks"), dreams or nightmares, occurring against the persisting background of a sense of "numbness" and emotional blunting, detachment from other people, unresponsiveness to surroundings, anhedonia, and avoidance of activities and situations reminiscent of the trauma.

What is a support group
What is a Support Group?

In a support group, members provide each other with various types of help, usually nonprofessional and nonmaterial, for a particular shared, usually burden-some, characteristic. The help may take the form of providing and evaluating relevant information, relating personal experiences, listening to and accepting others' experiences, providing sympa-thetic understanding and establishing social networks.

Types of support groups
Types of Support Groups

  • Families

  • Churches

  • Bible study groups

  • AA (for people with drinking problems)

  • Narcotics Anonymous (for people with addictions)

  • Other

Social isolation
Social Isolation

It can be dangerous to be socially isolated, especially when suffering from depression, anxiety etc.

The benefit and value of support groups
The Benefit and Value of Support Groups

A support group and social network can act as an umbrella against the storms of life

1 instillation of hope
1. Instillation of Hope

When a suffering person joins a support group and gets to know other people with similar problems who have managed to get better, it instills hope that his/her own situation is not hopeless.

2 universality
2. Universality

When a suffering person joins a support group he/she discovers that his/her problem is not totally unique but that there are other people with similar problems – and that they have managed to overcome their problems partially or totally.

3 imparting information
3. Imparting Information

A support group is an important source of information regarding the nature of human problems and how to solve them. Some support groups invite experts to deliver lectures. Many members have made a study of their own problems and may inform other members about their findings.

4 altruism
4. Altruism

In a support group the members learn how to care for each other. The joy of helping somebody else is a great cure for depression and sadness. The example of altruism by others helps shy people to reach out to others.

5 imitating the primary family
5. Imitating the Primary Family

Many disorders may be attributed to childhood experiences in the primary family. The support group often develops into an imitation of the primary family where members can learn to correct unhelpful attitudes and behaviours.

6 develop social skills
6. Develop Social Skills

A support group offers a safe environment where various types of social and interpersonal behaviour can be tried. Unhelpful and unproductive behavioral patterns can then be weeded out – resulting in better mental health and social skills.

7 imitative behaviour
7. Imitative Behaviour

A support group provides a safe environment where members can practice new behavioral patterns and imitate a positive and admired role model (often the group leader or facilitator) – thereby learning new attitudes and habits.

8 building social relationships
8. Building Social Relationships

The group provides a caring environment within which troubled people can receive help and practice interpersonal skills and relations. The members form a specialised social support group for troubled people.

9 corrective emotional expression
9. Corrective Emotional Expression

Members of a support group tend to exhibit their maladaptive and unproductive habits after a period of time. The group members provide them with feedback regarding these habits and help them to learn new ways to express their emotions.

10 the group as a social microcosm
10. The Group as a Social Microcosm

The support group will develop, over time, into a scaled-down version of society as a whole. Members will acquire certain roles if the group is small enough and new roles can be practiced.

11 gaining self knowledge
11. Gaining Self-Knowledge

In a supporting and non-judgmental group, where a member may disclose his/her story without fear, the other members can lead that person to a greater understanding of his/her mistakes in dealing with others and of unhelpful ways of thinking and acting.

12 learning how to deal with stress
12. Learning how to Deal with Stress

  • An overdose of chronic stress is unhealthy in the long run

  • The result is usually an impaired immune system and/or depression and/or anxiety

  • In the support group, people can learn how to deal with stressful situations

13 gaining an identity
13. Gaining an Identity

Every person –

  • has a need for identity;

  • doesn’t like being a nobody, only a number or

    a faceless member of society; and

  • needs human dignity,

    respect and recognition –

    which may be gained in a

    caring group

14 getting rid of ghosts
14. Getting Rid of Ghosts

  • Trauma, anxiety and bereavement are all linked to some or other unpleasant/dangerous experience(s)

  • In a support group, these ghosts from the past may be chased away

Old egyptian slogan found in the tomb of the prime minister of pharao tambuki xvii 6 002 b c
Old Egyptian Slogan(found in the tomb of the prime minister of Pharao Tambuki XVII – 6 002 B C)

“If you fail to plan you plan to fail”


Organisation of support group
Organisation of Support Group

  • A constitution is needed

  • A code of conduct (policies)

  • Elected committee

  • Fixed time of meetings

  • Fixed venue

  • Regular communication

Policies of support group
Policies of Support Group

  • Main goal: help for suffering persons

  • No discrimination

  • No politics

  • Religious culture acceptable – non-denominational

  • Confidentiality

  • Cohesion of group

  • Human dignity respected


A support group needs the

following leaders:

  • Chairperson

  • Vice-chairperson

  • Treasurer

  • Secretary

  • Professional advisor(s)

Leadership of support group
Leadership of Support Group

Leaders –

  • ought to rotate regularly;

  • ought to be able to handle groups and to manage an organisation;

  • need the trust & support of the members; and

  • need to be motivated and inspired.

Frequency of meetings
Frequency of Meetings

  • Usually every 14 days or once a month (to be decided by the group)

  • Subgroups may meet weekly for therapy sessions with a mental health care professional

Membership of support group
Membership of Support Group

  • All interested persons are welcome

  • Size unlimited

  • Persons suffering from depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, bereavement and PTSD are especially welcome

  • Spouses and other family members may also come

  • Group psychotherapy meant only for those who are suffering

Group psychotherapy
Group Psychotherapy

  • Group comprised of 7 - 10 members

  • Only if there is a need

  • Subgroup of Support Group

  • Attendance voluntary

  • Facilitated by a trained mental health professional

  • Goal: personal growth & improved interpersonal functioning

Final words of wisdom
Final Words of Wisdom

  • Gen 4: 9 – And the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel, your brother?” He said, “I don`t know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”

  • Matt 7: 12 – Therefore whatever you desire for men to do to you, you shall also do to them; for this is the law and the prophets.

  • Rom 12: 15 – Rejoice with those who rejoice. Weep with those who weep.