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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

RA Support Group Success!

     Last Monday our local RA Support Group met for the second time and our numbers are growing!  I had several folks remind me after the first attempt, not to be discouraged and to continue to offer it for several months to see if it will "catch on" and the word will get out.  So that is indeed my plan.  I feel that this meeting really validated the importance of RA sufferers getting together and sharing their experiences and strategies.  I personally found it tremendously gratifying that all of those who attended want to meet again next month! And we will, on Monday, July 18th.
     It was interesting to discover what "topics" folks want to chat about.  For this meeting, I spent some time distributing some handouts such as the Agenda and Group Guidelines.  I suggested that folks review these and we could refine them at our next meeting.  This time, because our numbers were still low, I facilitated the group and suggested we spend the time we had introducing ourselves, offering any information that anyone wanted to share and so that was how we proceeded. From there discussion items surfaced and a lively conversation to which everyone contributed ensued.  A number of tips and suggestions were offered and I know several were new to me! We met for nearly 1 1/2 hours and when we concluded we all agreed that the group meeting was very beneficial, uplifting and indeed exceeded our expectations.  So, I hope others will do their best to attend in the future and if there is an RA Support Group in your area, go!  
     The key to a successful group from my perspective is to allow everyone to speak if they desire - but as the facilitator or even as a participant do your best to not let anyone dominate (the Group Guidelines are a useful tool and really lets everyone know from day one how your group will function). The Guidelines encourage paticipants to respect each speaker by not interrupting or having side conversations.  Having a positive dynamic and a well thought out infrastructure may seem like over thinking it, but it truly can be the difference in a support group's success or failure.  
     So, please consider 1) going to a local support group 2) starting one in your community if there is not one and 3) realize that this is yet another tool in managing your RA!

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

Hi Nan! Catching up on posts I had missed. May I use the graphic from this post on the fliers our tiny support group will be placing in local healthcare offices to let people know we exist? I think this is a marvelous graphic and illustrates how we can help each other find our places in the sun!