How to Share Your Story With a Support Group

How to Share Your Story With a Support Group

Some people hesitate to attend support groups because they don’t know how to discuss their experiences. However, peer support is essential to recovery from substance use disorder (SUD) and mental health issues. BMJ Open states, “Peer support has been identified as an accessible, affordable, and easy-to-implement mental health resource that has beneficial effects across populations.” Laguna Shores Recovery Center provides a safe space where you can attend group meetings and share your story. 

The Benefit of Attending Support Groups

Support groups are available to individuals recovering from substance misuse or mental health issues. Groups meet regularly at Laguna Shores. Clients engage with one another and support each other through treatment. Support groups are tailored to the unique needs of the participants, making them a practical addition to your care plan. You can also attend local community support groups during your free time throughout the week and on weekends. 

Some of the benefits of attending support groups include: 

  • Reduced symptoms of depression or anxiety 
  • Improved social skills 
  • Decreased feelings of loneliness 
  • Increased positivity 

Studies have shown “Support groups can help patients who have already begun receiving treatment to maintain their new behaviors and reinforce their new belief systems and thought processes. These groups also focus on the management of symptoms of day-to-day life.” Sharing your ideas, thoughts, and experiences with peers increases self-awareness and makes it easier to process aspects of therapy and other treatments. 

How to Share Your Story for the First Time

You don’t need to share your story during a support group meeting. Some people benefit from listening to the insights and experiences of others without feeling a need to share their emotional journey. However, most people find it cathartic and rewarding to talk about their situation in a safe space surrounded by peers who share similar life experiences. 

If you choose to share your story, do it in whatever way feels most comfortable to you. Most people choose to focus on one part of their situation at a time and share throughout sessions. Some common starting points include: 

  • Discussing the underlying cause of the disorder 
  • Acknowledging how the diagnosis has affected everyday life
  • Talking about the effects symptoms have had on relationships, work, school, or life goals 
  • Discussing treatment progress and milestones 

Support groups allow people to share many aspects of their lives, including day-to-day challenges. You can share any part of your story in as little or as much detail as you want. Often, people start by introducing themselves and briefly describing how they began treatment or what contributed to their condition. There is no wrong way to share your story. However, you can take steps to reduce anxiety before speaking to the group. Some people feel more comfortable writing down what they want to share and reading it to the group. 

Active Listening Improves Group Engagement

Practice active listening to ensure others feel heard and understood. Often sharing feels scary. Treating others with empathy and respect increases the likelihood they will treat you with the same courtesy. Knowing peers in the group genuinely care about what you have to say reduces fear. 

Active listening in a group involves doing the following: 

  • Meeting the speaker’s eyes and facing them to show interest through your body language
  • Listening to whatever they have to say without judging them or imposing your views 
  • Not interrupting while they are speaking
  • Giving thoughtful responses if you feel comfortable speaking up

Actively listening to others improves your social skills and models positive behaviors for others in the group. Everyone benefits when people treat each other with respect. 

When to Share Your Story

Sometimes it can be hard to know when it is the “right” time to share your story with the group. Although there is no correct way to share, it is essential to remember that you deserve to feel comfortable and safe when you speak. Everyone feels nervous when they share something personal about themselves with people they don’t know. Generally, people share their stories when they begin to feel familiar with the group. However, some people don’t feel the need to wait and want to share their stories immediately. Support groups allow members to speak up whenever they feel most comfortable. The best time to share your story is when it feels right. 

Share Your Story to Decrease Feelings of Isolation

Many people in recovery feel isolated and alone even when surrounded by peers. Sharing your story with peers and the care team makes you feel closer to the people around you. Reducing social isolation or feelings of loneliness improves mental health. Laguna Shores Recovery Center ensures clients can voice their feelings and share their stories with people who understand. Everyone can speak and respond to things other people in the group share.

Support groups provide a safe space where peers share their experiences, thoughts, and advice. Talking with others who understand what you are going through is cathartic and reduces loneliness. Support groups often have a loose format that allows people to share whenever they feel comfortable. However, if you’ve never been to a support group before, knowing when to speak up or what to say can be difficult. People often want to share their stories and don’t know where to start. Laguna Shores Recovery Center offers group support sessions where you can gain self-confidence by sharing your story. To learn more about our programs and services, call our office today at (866) 774-1532.