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What are support groups like? (breast cancer, infant loss, etc)

Nurses   (1,404 Views | 12 Replies)
by cat1235 cat1235 (Member)

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I'm supposed to attend a support group related to a topic in my OB class (breast cancer and infant / pregnancy loss, post partum depression, etc ). I'm trying to decide which to attend .... Could anyone give me an idea of how these are run or if they differ? Do they go around in a circle and take turns sharing? Or is it more "autocratic" where some leader of the group just kind of guides them through? I know certain national support groups with local chapters might all be pretty similar and I'm just trying to figure out which kind I'd like to attend. And I've never been to a support group so was wondering what to expect and what it's like and what different kinds are like if anyone could clue me in. thanks!

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blondy2061h has 15 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Oncology.

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That's an interesting assignment. I'm not sure if I were going to a support group to help me cope with a difficult life situation if I would be okay with an outsider there taking notes for a school assignment. It seems a bit imvasive.

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87 Posts; 3,851 Profile Views

I know I totally feel the same ... we're just supposed to observe. But it is kind of weird and I don't really like being invasive like that. : /

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JBudd has 39 years experience as a MSN and specializes in Trauma, Teaching.

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Over 30 years ago, a group of us were sent to an AA meeting. The leader made us speak, which was sort of embarrassing; but it did signal to the group that visitors were there.

I wouldn't take notes during the group meeting though. I haven't gone to any support meeting with my CA, so can't tell you much about modern groups. The AA people were nice about it.

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1 Article; 1,068 Posts; 24,942 Profile Views

We went to an AA meeting as a part of our program. The way that the group is set up will vary from group to group. Ours went around and talked about their feelings that they wrote in their journal for the week. We as visitors introduced ourselves so that the group would know why we were just sitting there as we were just observing.

There was a leader, that got the discussion going and kept everyone on topic.

Just go in with an open mind. It is a great learning experience. I had a greater understanding and deeper empathy for those suffering with drug and alcohol abuse after attending. They are human beings just like us with an illness that they are simply trying to overcome. I found it to be a pretty powerful experience, personally.

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imintrouble has 16 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in LTC Rehab Med/Surg.

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I belonged to a support group years ago totally unrelated to health care.

It was simply a group of young women who shared stories, coping mechanisms, and friendship. Sometimes the organizer who knew all of us, would steer those of us with questions, towards those with answers.

I can't really speak to the way things are done now.

I simply wanted to be on record that an observer in our group, who could not possibly share our pain, would not have been welcome to witness that pain. It would have altered the dynamic.

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87 Posts; 3,851 Profile Views

I have to say it would be a great learning experience to be able to attend an infant loss support group - I'd feel completely out of place and invasive, DON'T GET ME WRONG, but it would probably help me to better deal with parents in this situation considering I want to work in the NICU or peds oncology - both being critical areas with children. Anyways, that support group was full of student slots already so I couldn't go. I was scared to go to one of those to begin with but now that I think about it, it wouldn't have been a horrible thing.

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97 Posts; 4,661 Profile Views

I went to a few support groups for my mental health nursing class. All support groups are different. There are some that are open and some that are closed so make sure to call and find out if you are able to attend to observe. I tried to go to a postpartum support group once but the leader did not allow students to observe.

But there are many that are open to students. I went to a sexual abuse support group at a church and they were really open to having a student come in and hear their stories, even though the subject was really sensitive. I also went to an AA meeting and they had me read out their rules. I even went to an autism support group where the leader was a doctor and he encouraged students to ask questions.

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bagladyrn is a RN and specializes in OB.

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If you want to go to a related support group that would possibly be more open and less sensitive for the group to have an outsider listening in why not go to a breastfeeding support group. The participants there may actually like having a nurse listen to their concerns and issues with breastfeeding.

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RunBabyRN has 2 years experience and specializes in L&D, infusion, urology.

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When you go, be honest. We had an assignment to attend an AA meeting (I had been before to support a family member), and several people were very welcoming (any that weren't didn't say anything about it). Don't take notes, just keep your listening ears on.

See what's available in your area, and if there's contact info, get in touch with someone. Some places are more open to outsiders than others.

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classicdame is a MSN, EdD and specializes in Hospital Education Coordinator.

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the ones I observed while in nursing school was AA and Gamblers Anonymous. We asked the group leader ahead of otime if we could attend (two of us) and gave him our objectives. He announced to the group that we were there. That way people could choose how much they wanted to share. Since the gorups I attended were based on the 12 step program they were similar. I would not take notes. Just listen.

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OCNRN63 is a RN and specializes in Oncology; medical specialty website.

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That's an interesting assignment. I'm not sure if I were going to a support group to help me cope with a difficult life situation if I would be okay with an outsider there taking notes for a school assignment. It seems a bit imvasive.

I've attended a support group related to my cancer diagnosis. I thought the same thing you did. We discuss very intimate information. The idea of an outsider being there would make it difficult for me to talk about my issues.

ETA: I agree with others; don't whip out a pad and pen and start taking notes.

Edited by OCNRN63

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