Facilitating the BWSS Drop in Group

by Yvonne Prochaska

I have completed the great opportunity of facilitating the drop-in support group for ten weeks here at BWSS. This has been my first experience facilitating a support group and although it has been quite brief, I expect that I will look back on it over time to digest and assess the learning that it has provided me as I embark on a path of wanting to aid in the healing of others and myself.

Facilitating this group has been both rewarding and challenging. I have enjoyed experiencing other women and their stories, as well as how they are able to identify common experiences among one another and provide support when they feel they are able. I have found it reassuring that many of the women who have come to the drop in group have been open to discuss some painful experiences, and have been understanding, respectful of and patient with others. I have found comfort through women taking the courage to ask me about my personal experiences. I have felt validated by the attention I have been given, and the amount of appreciation.  I have been shown for my thoughts and words. It has been great for me to see women coming back after their first session; that they have given me the chance to get to know them a little bit better.

The challenges come from the unpredictability of the group. You never know what issues women will bring or how many women will come to group. Flexibility on the part of the instructor is extremely important, as is the ability to observe and listen to the group with open curiosity; share ideas on how to discuss the topic(s) constructively to provide the women with support, understanding and validation of their feelings and experiences; as well as knowledge of resources that will help the women regain balance in their lives.

Overall, I have been surprised at the ease with which conversation flows in the group, and how it benefits not only the women participating in the group but myself as well. This experience has taught me a lot about myself and has created an opportunity for me to learn about some of the areas in which I would like to grow both personally and as an effective facilitator.