For Self-Help Groups and Organizations
Self-help groups and non-profit organizations are almost always born and fueled by altruism, generosity and the desire to help others. Planning and getting the input of a variety of outside professionals is usually an important investment in keeping your group healthy. You may find my article about the different types of leadership and groups, "The Healing Power of Groups," helpful. There are several ways to avoid needing an emergency consultation for your self-help group. The most important is to have a clear agreement about the purpose of the group, expectations of each member and leaders. It also helps to have clear guidelines for exclusion, so that you have agreed in advance how to handle disruptive or difficult members.There are many solutions for these situations. By doing this work in advance and reviewing it at least yearly, you will be reducing the risk of burn-out, and high group turn-over. It is crucial to have as much agreement as possible, and to review these group agreements periodically to make sure that the members are getting their needs met.
Another major ingredient which is too often overlooked are the small ways members can acknoweldge the contributions of both "worker bees" and leadership. Too often, the heavy lifting falls to a hand-ful of people who do all the behind-the-scenes work. Letters of appreciation and other forms of acknowledgement go a long way in helping members feel valued.
When I ran the Self-Help Clearinghouse in San Francisco, years ago, I was instrumental in putting together a listing of licensed groups therapists who donated consultation time to help groups become safer and more beneficial. Your group may also benefit from occassional consultation as well. You may also find my forthcoming book, with it's templates for group agreements, etc., helpful: "Help Your Group Thrive: Workbook and Planning Guide."
Questions Worth Reviewing:
Do you know what your group's mission is?
Do you have a mission statement?
When did you last review your mission statement and update it?
Do you have a plan and system for acknowledging and publicly appreciating member's contributions?
Does it include social media as a way to help meet the needs of your membership. If it does, what protections for your organization have you built into your social media policy?
Note: This page will be updated with listings of organizations and resources of interest to self-help groups. If you have consultation resources that you have found helpful and want to share, please contact me directly at (925) 962-0060.