“Coming Off Psych Drugs” Mutual Support Group Format

My vision for this group is that it self-facilitates, so that no one person needs to stand out as “facilitator”.  I’ve been standing in that role in this first year as the group starts off, to make sure the basic values and principles of acceptance, non-judgment, open ears and hearts, patience, and respect are firmly ingrained in the group’s foundation.  This is the official format that we use, although we don’t think of ourselves as a “strict” group in any sense.  We are open to evolving in whatever way the group organically moves.

Coming Off Psych Drugs mutual support group-

Guidelines and Format 

The vision for this group is that it eventually reaches a stage at which it self-facilitates, so that no one person needs to stand out as designated “facilitator”.  Laura Delano has largely been standing in that role during the first year and a half of this group, to make sure the basic values and principles of acceptance, non-judgment, open ears and hearts, patience, and respect are firmly ingrained in the group’s foundation.  This is the official format that we use, although we don’t think of ourselves as a “strict” group in any sense.  We are open to evolving in whatever way the group organically moves. We welcome flexibility in facilitation, in the structure of the group (i.e. testing out break out sessions), and encourage transparency around power and leadership.

Coming Off Psych Drugs mutual support group-Format and Guidelines

Group Format

-One person reads the group introduction

-Facilitator asks everyone to introduce themselves by first name and very briefly what their relationship is to psychiatric drugs (currently on? Been on in the past? Currently tapering? Thinking about tapering?) If they are a family member/friend of someone coming off psych drugs, ask them to share their reasons for being in the group.

-Facilitator then reminds the group of the guidelines [see below], and then opens up space for people with a current need for support related to withdrawal to check in for a few minutes each (gauge the number of minutes based on the length of the meeting and the number of people there, so that the check in takes up about half the time).

-Facilitator offers to keep notes of any questions/themes/requests that come up during check ins to circle back to later in the meeting

-Once each person looking for support has been heard, the facilitator will open up the group for conversation and dialogue, particularly around any questions/themes raised during check-ins, ensuring that no one interrupts, shuts down, gives unsolicited advice, etc. –Throughout the meeting, facilitator should stay aware of who is speaking more, who is not speaking, and create pauses or spaces for those who might wish to speak up to do so

Basic Guidelines

  • Please speak only about your current or past experiences of psychiatric drug withdrawal and all that comes with it; as this is a support group explicitly for supporting those currently in withdrawal (in the open-ended sense of the term), unrelated comments will gently be facilitated and guided back to the topic
  • Please do not interrupt others while they are speaking
  • Please do not give direct advice to others in the group, unless they specifically ask for others’ opinions or personal experiences with a specific topic
  • Please stick to your own story and your own experiences, and use “I” language, not “you” language
  • Please own your own Truth, which is yours and no one else’s, and respect others as they do the same
  • Please pay attention to how much you’re using your voice, and be willing to step back if others in the space have not yet had a chance to use theirs

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