Well-run Support Groups Can Benefit Fibromyalgia Patients

Well-run Support Groups Can Benefit Fibromyalgia Patients
As a result of my cross-country relocation, I’ve had the opportunity to attend five different support groups in the past several decades. Four of the groups were for fibromyalgia (FM) patients only, while the fifth was for anyone with chronic pain from any source. Each group was unique, and some functioned better than others. What I learned along the way is that any group is only as strong as its leader(s). I led a group for a short time — long enough to realize that an FM patient makes a poor support group leader, at least if she’s doing it alone. I soon had a co-leader, and that made all the difference. In order for meetings to be attractive and helpful, they must have a program. And a program requires planning and effort. It’s not that this is a difficult task. It’s that FM patients often lack the energy to do it. You may be asking: What about groups without programs? In my experience, without an educational component, support groups tend to disintegrate. With no direction, a gathering of people in pain becomes a “gripe group.” Attendees leave feeling worse than when they arrived. In time, they stop coming. Yes, misery does love company. But listening to one tale of woe after another can become tiresome and depressing. The time to speak to another member about similar symptoms is after the meeting. The meeting itself needs to be a positive experience. It makes sense. If you leave a meeting feeling better about yourself and your future, you're much more likely to return to have that feeling again. Another danger of having no program is what I call doctor bashing, a common result of the frustration this illness creates. Some groups do keep records about their members' experiences with local healthcare providers. However, this information shoul
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One comment

  1. Effie Matsas says:

    Hello Christine,
    Thank you for sharing your article and could not have come at a better time! I am in the process of rejuvenating an FM/ME support group in Sydney, Australia, and will definitely take your suggestions on board. The aim of the support group is to provide a forum for open discussion, support our fellow warriors, as well as educate ourselves and raise awareness of FM/ME in the community.

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