SUPPORT GROUP GUIDELINES
A support group usually follows a structured format to open and close the meetings. The facilitator gives a welcome. He will ask the attendees to give their first names and give a special welcome to first time attendees. The 12 Steps and 12 Traditions or other material may be read aloud by the members. The facilitator generally suggests a topic for the meeting but then gives the group permission to share anything that they desire. The facilitator may then read or state or post the following guidelines for the meeting:
1. KEEP CONFIDENTIALITY
We maintain confidentiality at all times in all areas having to do with the group and its members. "What is said here - stays here." Who attends the group is also confidential.
2. MAKE "I STATEMENTS"
Avoid using "you" or "we" as one can only really speak for oneself.
3. STAY IN THE "HERE AND NOW"
Share what you are dealing with today or this week. Bring past history to the present.
4. SHARE FEELINGS about your "experience, strength, and hope".
Feelings are neither right nor wrong. They are amoral! We accept one another unconditionally. No shaming or blaming.
5. NO FIXING
Avoid offering suggestions or methods for fixing another person's problems, allowing individuals to experience their pain without your interference. Each member grows as he expresses himself and listens to others. NO DISCUSSION of what someone else has shared. NO ADVICE
6. NO CROSS-TALK or discussion.
Speak only when it is your turn. Questions can be handled AFTER the meeting so that sharing will not be interrupted.
7. TIME-LIMITED SHARING
Please raise your hand before sharing and limit your sharing to 3-5 minutes allowing everyone in the group to share once before you share again. For maximum benefit everyone is encouraged to share. No one should feel pressured to share but may "pass". The group closes promptly after 1 hour or other agreed upon time.