Leading Self-Help Group Meetings Services
While the self-help concept might seem simple and easy to implement, it takes special skills to ensure a successful group meeting.
Purpose and anticipated benefits
Researching ways to increase self-help leaders’ effectiveness will result in improved self-help meetings for all.
Adrienne Paine, Yolanda Suarez de Balcazar, and other Research and Training Center on Independent Living at the University of Kansas researchers with help from Leslie Bork Jameson, Westchester Self-Help Clearinghouse in Westchester, NY, conducted the study.
To learn the best ways to lead meetings, the researchers worked with self-help groups and conducted self-help group leader workshops in this study that particularly focused on multiple sclerosis, post-polio, and low-income women’s self-help groups.
Some findings were techniques for leadership including active listening, statements of encouragement, open-ended questions, disclosure, and problem clarification. To handle difficult situations, assertive caring, which consists of statements that intend to modify a particular difficult situation can keep the meeting on track and is a way to say “no” without offending anyone, can be used. This involves providing a statement of understanding, setting limits, suggesting an alternative, and checking for agreement.
An important part of assertive caring involves making “I” statements that give feedback to a group member, without judging his or her behavior. “I” statements allow communication to the member about how his or her behavior affects others.
Situations that may require assertive caring are when one member of the group talks too much, when frequent interruptions are made by one member with irrelevant and/or inappropriate comments, when a member frequently responds with “yes, but” for everything suggested by other members, when members arrive late, when a member appears to need professional help, or when a member does not have problems common with the group.
Paine, A. L., Suarez‑Balcazar, Y., Fawcett, S. B., & Jameson, L. B. (1992). Supportive transactions: Their measurement and enhancement in two mutual‑aid groups. Journal of Community Psychology.
Suarez de Balcazar, Y., Seekins, T., Paine, A., Fawcett, S. B., & Mathews, R. M. (1989). Self‑help and social support groups for people with disabilities: A descriptive report. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, 33, 151‑158.
Paine, A. L., Suarez de Balcazar, Y., & Fawcett, S. B. (1988). The self‑help behavioral assessment instrument. Lawrence, KS: Research and Training Center on Independent Living, University of Kansas.
Paine, A. L., Suarez de Balcazar, Y., Fawcett, S. B., & Borck‑Jameson, L. (1989). Self‑help group leader's handbook: Leading effective meetings. Lawrence, KS: Research and Training Center on Independent Living, University of Kansas.
Paine, A.L. (1991). Leading effective meetings.Lawrence, KS: The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Independent Living, University of Kansas.
Paine, A. L., Embree, M. G., Suarez-Balcazar, Y., & Fawcett, S. B. (1990). Measurement and enhancement of self-help group member behaviors. University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS [presentation].