When your marriage breaks up and you find yourself in uncharted emotional waters, where can you turn for help?
Family and friends can certainly provide a shoulder to lean on. Although their listening skills may be helpful to you, ultimately you’ll probably want to get some advice from a professional counselor or therapist who specializes in separation and divorce; these professionals can help you ride out the tumultuous feelings you may have. Somewhere between these two options lies a third choice: a divorce support group.
A divorce support group can be any number of things. It can be a group of people getting together to share information. It can be a group led by a trained facilitator, or a group managed by members of the group itself. The bottom line is that a divorce support group is a forum for people who have “been there” to get together, share experiences, solve problems, and share resources. Participating in a divorce support group can help you regain your emotional center.
Finding a Divorce Support Group
How do you find a divorce support group in your area? A word of mouth recommendation is always a good starting place. You can ask your doctor, spiritual counselor, or social worker for their recommendation. A Google search for groups in your area should provide some choices.
Figuring out which is the right group for your own personal needs is another challenge. Here are some questions to ask yourself when choosing a divorce support group:
- What are you looking for in a divorce support group? Emotional support? Information about the condition? Information about how to get the help you need? Access to services? People you can relate to?
- Is there a contact person from the group who can respond to your inquiries and who can send you information before you attend a meeting?
- Does the divorce support group have any prerequisites or requirements for attending the group?
- Is the meeting place accessible to you with regard to transportation or special needs (wheelchair access, interpreter)?
- Are you comfortable with the general makeup of the group (age, gender, religious affiliation, etc.)?
- Do you feel safe after a few visits?
- Is this support group open to individual participation?
- Do members reach out to each other –including you –beyond meetings?
- Do meeting facilitators have sufficient skills and/or is there enough clarity in the meeting format to meet your needs?
When You Need More than a Divorce Support Group
Your immediate needs may go beyond a divorce support group: you may need a counselor for yourself or for your children, or a chiropractor or message therapist to help ease the stress, or a financial consultant to help put you on the road to a brighter post-divorce future.