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Internet (Online) Support Groups

What To Do Before You Join An Online Support Group

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Before joining an online support group, it is advisable to do the following:

  • Look for a group that is the right fit for you, including the following:
    • The make-up of the group
    • The amount of time you are expected to give to participating in the group. 
    • Look at both structured groups and social networking sites
  • Make sure the site is trustworthy.
    • Look for password-protection and a requirement that you register before joining a group.
    • Learn who the sponsors are so you can make sure that the sponsor is reputable.
  • Check to see if the site has a monitor for the discussion. 
    • It is preferable that a group have a professional moderator to help keep the discussion on track as well as to add insights and experience to the conversation.   
    • Non professionally led groups can also be beneficial. A study published in January 2012 in the journal CIN: Computers, Informatics, Nursing found that the important thing was belonging to a support group, no matter how it was led.
  • If the group does not have a monitor, check for posts on threads that have no replies to help avoid the feeling of exposing your thoughts and feelings, and then have no one respond.
  • Exercise caution regarding your personal information. For instance, while having a financial crunch may be relevant, more specific information such as the identity or amount of your assets is not. Likewise, information such as your home address is not relevant. (For information about dealing with a financial crunch, click here.)
  • Keep in mind that people may lie about who they are.
  • If someone tries to sell you something, be very wary.

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