FAQ About Parent Support Groups
What would this group do for me?
- You will gain emotional support and encouragement, a healthy balance to offset the stress, loneliness, and discouragement parents of extra-challenging children often experience.
- You will find a safe and accepting place where you can freely talk about what is going on for you and how you feel—the good, the bad, and the really-not-good.
- You will be provided with opportunities to learn more about how and why your extra-difficult children challenge you so much.
- You will find reassurance, encouragement, and gain more energy and optimism.
- You will enjoy being able to explore how you might become more like the parent you’ve always wanted to be.
How much does it cost?
The Parent Support group sessions cost $75/90 minutes–less than half the cost of individual therapy. Before joining the group, you will be asked to meet Emory at least once for a private session to discuss whether the group will fit your needs, and whether you will be a good fit for the group. A private session with Emory is $135/60 minutes. Insurance reimbursement is often available for the cost of both individual and group sessions.
When do you meet?
There are two groups. Each group meets every other Tuesday evening at Emory’s home office, from 8-9:30 pm.
What happens in support group sessions?
Group sessions typically begin with each member giving an update about themselves, sharing an account of problems and/or progress the previous week. Working collaboratively, the group decides what to focus on in the session, and the conversation begins. At times, when an important issue comes up, Emory may work individually with one person while other group members listen and provide their emotional support. At other times, there is more give and take, as the group works collectively to understand and resolve a particular problem. If this sounds like a lot to cover—it is! Which is why group sessions are 90 minutes long, compared to typical individual sessions that are 50 to 60 minutes.
Who can join this support group?
Any parent who is interested in joining with other parents for mutual support is welcome to meet Emory to talk about joining. She will want to meet with you at least one time to answer your questions and get a sense of whether the group experience will fit your needs. The group size will be limited to five members.
I already see another therapist—does this mean I have to stop?
People often continue to see their therapist for individual sessions when they join a group like this one, and find that their group experience complements their private therapy sessions very well. Sometimes, people find that the help and support they get from their group gives them everything they need—for less than half the cost of private psychotherapy. It really is up to you.
What would I be expected to do in a group like this?
- You will be encouraged to fully participate—the more you involve yourself in the group, the more you will get out of it.
- To be interested in what other people in the group have to say, and willing to be helpful to them when you can. Most people discover that they learn a lot from their fellow group members, and enjoy the rewards of being supportive in return.
- To be trustworthy and respectful towards others. Every member contributes to the sense of safety and freedom to be completely honest with themselves and others.
What if I am uncomfortable talking about my problems in front of others?
Most people find that even if they feel uneasy at the start, they soon begin to feel a great sense of relief by having a place where they can talk freely—yet privately—with others who share similar problems and concerns. If you feel uneasy or embarrassed at the beginning, those feelings will probably lessen when you find you can trust your fellow group members. Of course no one is required to answer any question or to participate at any point when they feel they cannot do so. And, if you are ever troubled about an issue or concern, you can always speak privately to Emory about it outside of group.
How long does this group last?
- This is an on-going support group, which means that it does not have a stopping date.
- You are welcome to continue participating in this group at your own pace, and feel free to leave when your particular goals or needs have been met.
- Once you decide that you want to join this support group, you are asked to commit yourself to attend regularly, for at least three months. This commitment is important because each person’s contribution in this kind of a support group is valuable to the group as a whole. Your commitment to attend expresses your value for taking care of yourself as well as your fellow group members.
- There is an important transition period whenever someone joins a group or prepares to depart. It will be helpful for both you and your fellow group members to give at least one month’s notice before you intend to leave your support group.
What if I don’t think I can attend every group meeting? Sometimes I’ll have scheduling conflicts.
Emory understands that family and work schedules probably make it impossible for you to commit to being anywhere every single week. It is okay to miss some times and still continue as a member of the group. You will be asked to pay for “your seat in the room,” however, even when you are not there in order to save your place in the group.
How will this group help me or change me?
You can expect to feel new encouragement, feel less isolated, and feel more valued as a person and as a parent by participating in this group. In particular, you will probably learn to understand yourself better, as a unique person as well as a parent. For instance, you might learn more about your own emotional “triggers,” understand how your challenges provoke your most intense emotional reactions, develop better ideas for how to sidestep the situations that prompt those reactions, and improve your ability to keep yourself calm in volatile situations. This new understanding and appreciation for yourself will likely help you improve your relationships with your children as well as with other important people in your life.
What can we expect from Emory as the leader of the support group?
Emory is responsible for screening prospective group members and inviting only those people who can be helpful learning partners for each other to join. If there is ever a problem with a group member acting inappropriatedly (rare, but possible), Emory will deal with it. She also plays a vital role in every support group meeting by collaborating with group members to choose the topics that will be most interesting and useful to focus on. And finally, Emory’s warmth and good humor create a respectful and positive atmosphere for the group to work in.
As the family therapist leading these parenting support groups, Emory brings a wealth of experience and skill. For over 19 years, she has been a senior leader with the Parent Encouragement Program (PEP) and has taught more than a thousand parents of babies through teenagers. She frequently leads Open Forum Counseling programs, working with a family before an audience of parents and children who wish to improve their response to common family problems, such as “power struggles” and “messy rooms”. Working with her PEP colleagues, Emory has developed and presented many unique talks and classes, including “Setting Limits with Extra-Challenging Children,” “Motivating Underachieving Children,” and “Helping Discouraged and Anxious Children.” Emory’s soon-to-be-published book, Parenting With Courage and Uncommon Sense, was written with co-author Linda Jessup, the founder of PEP. You can read some of the many articles Emory has published in area magazines and newspapers here on her website or subscribing to her blog.