Of all the work I do with bipolar disorder, a weekly support group can sometimes be the most beneficial. If one has bipolar disorder he or she is among a unique minority — NIMH currently places that figure at 2.6 % of the population. Additionally, those with the diagnosis frequently find that they feel misunderstood, alone, embarrassed, stigmatized and deficient along with a host of other adjectives. When bipolar individuals meet with others who share similar struggles these feelings can lessen considerably.
Beyond the experiences of inclusion and normalization, meeting with others who share the diagnosis can be a powerful learning experience. Individuals who are in the early phases of adjusting to their bipolar diagnosis have the opportunity of learning from others who have struggled with similar issues.
Perhaps most central to group participation is experience of support from others who truly do know what it is to have bipolar disorder. It’s one thing for a loved one or mental health professional to say – “I know what you are going through.” But when that same statement comes from someone else who has been on the same tumultuous path, the empathic support can have a much deeper level of positive impact.
While bipolar disorder has received increasing attention through the media over the last five to ten years, it is still the case that adults with the disorder often feel misunderstood by others who know little about bipolar disorder. The support group will be a place where these feelings can be countered through a strong sense of understanding and inclusion from others who also live with the disorder.
A support group typically meets every other week and has an upper limit of eight individuals. Confidentiality and safety in relation to membership identity and personal information disclosed are strongly emphasized throughout the group process.
Support Group for Professionals
When: Wednesdays – 6:15 to 7:45 – every other week
Where: 918 9½ St., NE., C’Ville 22902
Leader: Russ Federman, Ph.D., ABPP
Cost: $80 per month ($40 per meeting)
General Support Group Membership Criteria:
- Group members must already have the diagnosis of bipolar I, bipolar II, or cyclothymia.
- Group members must be accepting of the bipolar diagnosis (should not attend if they are doubtful about it).
- Group members must have the capacity for trust and open sharing of personal information with others.
- Group members must be able to assure confidentiality with regard to other members’ identities and the content of self-disclosure that will occur in the group.
- Group members must be relatively good with their management of interpersonal conflict (i.e. – if someone else disagrees with them or is appropriately confronting towards them).
- Group members must have a current relationship with a prescribing psychiatrist and/or a psychotherapist. These can be the same. If a therapy relationship is not currently in place, a group member must have the capability/willingness to see Dr. Federman individually if needed.
- Group members must have the capacity to commit to regular weekly group attendance.