When you experience a divorce, you may be overwhelmed with feelings of grief, confusion, and anger, while at the same time dealing with legal, financial, and family issues due to the divorce. A group for the divorced gives you the opportunity to connect with people who experience the same thing. The first step is to find one where you live, but you will also have to choose the one that is best for you.
Part 1 of 3: Finding a Divorce Support Group
Step 1. Contact a mental health clinic where you live
These clinics offer a wide variety of services, and you may find that they have a divorcee support group available. However, if they don't, they can tell you where one is where you live.
- You can use online search tools to find mental health clinics, such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration if you live in the United States.
- Similarly, you can check your insurance since most insurance companies have a search tool for you to find clinics and doctors in your network.
- If you continue to use phone books, you can find mental health clinics in the yellow pages.
Step 2. Use an online search tool
Many websites have a list of support groups in the country, while others focus only on the area where you live. Just put in your address or zip code and write down the type of support group you hope to find where you live.
Another option is to use the newspaper. Sometimes support groups are in the local newspaper. The one in your area might have a section dedicated to support services like the one you are looking for
Step 3. Talk to some professionals
They can help you find a therapist. Many professionals have the appropriate experience to guide you in the right direction.
- You can start by going to your general doctor. This professional will be able to recommend a support group for you.
- Discuss it with your therapist. A much better option is to ask this professional if you already have their services. Therapists often know of support groups in the area and can help you find one that is right for you.
- Ask your lawyer. Divorce attorneys always work with the people in your situation. For this reason, yours likely knows of a support group in the area. Ask him if he knows one that you can join.
Step 4. Talk to other organizations
Many organizations plan support groups, including support groups for the divorced. For example, contact your local library to see if one is organized at one of the libraries where you live.
- If you are involved in your church, you can also go to your church to start looking for a support group. Many churches organize support groups for the divorced. Otherwise, they will know one in the area in which it is organized.
- Similarly, try a nearby university. Many large universities have psychology departments. These types of departments usually provide advice, in addition to organizing support groups. If he doesn't organize one of his own, he could point you to one.
Step 5. Talk to your friends and family
They are always a source of information. You can even ask on social media if you feel comfortable doing it. Otherwise, reach out to your friends who have been through your situation as they might know of some groups in the area. Similarly, you can ask your friends who work in the area of health or mental health.
- Try to talk to people who have values similar to yours or who think similarly to you. In this way, you will be more likely to have a group that suits your needs.
- Similarly, make sure the people you ask know you very well. Since they know you, they will be able to help you find a group that is a good fit.
Step 6. Find a group online
While it's true that a face-to-face support group might work for some people, you might prefer to attend one online. Online groups offer the benefit of being available when you need them. Try searching the major mental health websites to find a few groups you can join.
- Some of the major psychology websites have forums for support groups. In these, you can find some areas dedicated to the different types of support groups. These are very informal, and you can get in and out of these as you please.
- Don't share personal information online, at least the kind that could be used to steal your identity or to get to your home, like your full name and address.
Part 2 of 3: Evaluating a Divorce Support Group
Step 1. Get as much information as you can
If possible, find out about the group before attending. Each group should have a contact person whom you can call and ask questions. Have a list of questions ready.
- For example, you can ask when and where the group meets. Similarly, you can ask how long it has been meeting. Another good question to ask is if they are accepting new members.
- You can ask other questions regarding other considerations.
Step 2. Discuss what a typical meeting looks like
One way to find out what a support group does is to ask what a typical meeting looks like. This gives the person you are speaking to a chance to describe a meeting to you, and gives you a general idea of whether or not it is what you are looking for.
- For example, a typical meeting might allocate 10 minutes for presentations, 45 minutes for a general discussion, and 5 minutes to finish. With another group, you may notice that 30 minutes is allotted for someone to talk about some issues related to divorce and 45 minutes to talk about a general discussion, and a time is included for you to talk about what is going on in your life..
- You can ask if everyone in the meeting is encouraged to speak or if it is only to people who want to speak.
- Similarly, you should ask how long a typical meeting is. If you only have time for a 45-minute meeting, you shouldn't join a group that usually takes 2 hours.
Step 3. Ask if it's confidential
Ideally, what is said in the group stays there. Groups will have different confidentiality policies. Be sure to ask about confidentiality when you attend a meeting.
Similarly, ask what measures are taken to protect confidentiality. For example, maybe your group only uses people's first names
Step 4. Consider the size
The size of support groups can vary greatly. The best size for a group will be determined by what you want to achieve with it. For example, do you want a place where you can talk about your feelings or just where you can feel the camaraderie of other people in the same situation? The answer to this question can determine whether you will opt for a small or large group. It will also depend on whether you are comfortable with a large or small group.
- For example, a group of five people might seem very small if you are a friendly person and who likes to meet several people.
- If you feel the need to speak openly about what is happening to you, a group of 20 people may not give you the opportunity to speak. If they only meet for 50 minutes to speak, then each person will be allocated 2.5 minutes if they will all speak.
- However, a group of 20 people can work if the main focus of the group is listening to people talk about issues related to divorce.
Step 5. Look at the leadership
The best groups will have a leader to facilitate their development. A good leader facilitates discussion without embarrassing people. When you attend a meeting, see if people seem comfortable talking and if the leader is able to keep the discussion going.
The leader may or may not be a mental health professional, but having one in meetings occasionally can help guide the group and the discussion
Step 6. Evaluate how the meeting went
After visiting a group, evaluate if it is what you want or not. For example, you may wonder how it made you feel. While it is true that a meeting can make you feel some emotions, it should leave you feeling a little better about yourself. Similarly, you should feel comfortable with the group, although it may take a few meetings to really get a connection. Most importantly, you should feel that the meetings and members are supportive of what is happening to you.
- After a meeting, spend a few minutes reorganizing yourself. Sit in your car for a while if you have to, but spend a short time thinking or writing about the meeting before you go home. Taking notes can be helpful, especially if you are trying to compare more than one group.
- Focus on the most and least useful in the group. What is more or less useful should be personal in terms of your needs.
- For example, perhaps what was most helpful was the ability to spend time talking about your feelings. On the other hand, perhaps what was less helpful was that the leadership was not very consistent and did not guide the conversation well. In that case, you may need to find another group that is similar in size but has more consistent leadership, perhaps someone who is a professional.
Part 3 of 3: Choosing a Support Group
Step 1. Consider the location
When you go to a support group, you are more likely to attend if it's convenient. If you find it difficult to choose between two groups, choose the one that is most convenient for you. You will only get the help of the group if you can attend the group.
- For example, if the group meets near your work, it might be easy for you to go to it on the way home.
- On the other hand, if you meet for 30 minutes, you might notice that you stop going more often.
Step 2. Consider your goals
What do you want to achieve with this group? If you can answer this question, it can help you decide which group is the best for you. For example, your goal may be to improve your life and move on or improve your self-esteem.
- For example, your goal may be to help you process your feelings. In that case, you could choose a group where you can speak more.
- On the other hand, you may feel the need to connect with other people after separating from your spouse. In that case, you may want to join a group where talking is less emphasized.
Step 3. Understand that support groups are not group therapy
Group therapy is led by a therapist, while support groups are usually led by people who are not health professionals. While it is true that some only provide the opportunity to speak, others provide information that can help you get through the difficult time you are experiencing.
- A support group is just that, a support. It is intended to provide you with a group of people who experience the same thing as you or who have experienced it.
- Many people find it helpful to have a group like this to talk about what is happening to them, especially after their friends get tired of listening to them.
Step 4. Know the limits
You may not have many options, although it will depend on the size of the city you are in. Although you may not find the perfect group, choose the one that has the best qualities you need.
- For example, if you have two options that you like: a large group and a small group, consider what is most important to you. You could choose the small one because you will have more opportunities to speak or the big one because you will get a wide variety of perspectives.
- Another way is to choose the one you feel most comfortable with. You have to feel at home in the group to be more supportive.