If you’re considering—toying with the idea, hesitating, contemplating—or ready to start facilitating a Women’s group, well my friend, you’re reading the right article! As a Clinician at Pure Desire, this is one of the things I love and enjoy doing the most.
Facilitating a support group can be daunting and scary. Here are a few essentials to get you started in this amazingly painful, and yet rewarding, journey. This may be helpful in reevaluating the dynamics of the group you are already facilitating.
Here are some things that I personally find important:
One of the most powerful ways we see the impact Jesus had in people’s lives was through what He did in them and their testimony. We believe that this impact is just as real today! Yes, you can absolutely still be a great facilitator if you haven’t been through the betrayal and/or recovery process.
At the same time, the power of your own personal healing is an experience that will become a connecting point between you and other ladies as well as give you a unique skillset. If you’ve gone through the recovery process or the recovery materials at least once, then you can rest assure you’re ready to begin this journey of walking alongside others in their own process.
Since Pure Desire is a faith-based organization, it is easy to confuse our support groups with other bible studies we go to in our local church. An effective part of our approach is changing that mentality and culture. Our groups are recovery and support groups (not to be mistaken for therapy groups either). God is the foundational element to all the group materials, but sticking to the structure of the group will also determine the overall success. Here are few things that will be useful:
If the group is an in-person group, we strongly suggest you have no more than seven people. If you have more than that, please consider splitting the group into two groups. Find a co-facilitator to help you take on the second group or create a waitlist for the next potential group. We understand the need for groups is great; however, trying to facilitate a large group will make the process longer than it needs to be. Not to mention, less personal and less safe. If you are facilitating a group online, the maximum you should have is five women, plus yourself.
Please please stick to the guidelines of the group (written at the end of the book or in your facilitator’s manual). This is such a critical point that many fail to follow. Starting and ending on time IS a big deal. Sharing only from your own personal experience. Not giving unsolicited advice or questions. Making sure each person gets about the same amount of time to share. Keeping the dynamics of the group as clear and on point as possible will ensure its overall effectiveness. (These are clearly stated in our resources, please stick to them!).
One of our goals is to create a safe environment for healing to happen. When we don’t stick to the guidelines, group members begin to NOT feel safe to share or even engage in the group! The main reason for this goal is to help you experience healing in relationships. As you may already know, we were wounded in relationship and we need to experience healing in relationship. This is where committing to confidentiality within our time together becomes a crucial part of the group and its success.
Titles are important. Whether you’re deciding to start a group or already have started one. It is crucial that we understand the difference between a “facilitator” and a “leader” and the implications they bring. I can go on about this. Instead I encourage you to PLEASE go read the article (in our blog) titled: 3 Dynamics to Healthy Groups. The article will expand on this very important topic!
Please don’t try to facilitate on your own. At this point in your journey you know how important it is to have a community of people that walk alongside you. People you can reach out to for input, prayer, advice or just support. Be intentional about creating a network of women that you can count on. Community is God’s design for us! Just because you are facilitating a group doesn’t mean you are perfect, healed or expected to do it on your own. We all need help always.
These are some basics and yet essentials to get started on a group or changes to make in an existing one! Please email me if you have any questions. My prayer is that you take the risk to facilitate a group and reap the incredible benefits of it. Above all, I’ve gained a few amazing friends in this process! You got this girlfriend. Go for it!
Rebecca is a Clinician on Pure Desire's Clinical Team. She serves as the Small Group Trainer for the Spanish community and acts as the contact for the Spanish speaking community. Rebecca has been in ministry for 20 years and has been connected with Pure Desire since 1998.