Self-help in the health sector

Have you ever wondered about that? The doctor says goodbye to your doctor and gives you the address of a self-help group. Other people get the tip from a friend to discuss the problem in a group of like-minded people - self-help groups. But maybe you have a strange feeling when you think about going into a group where "only" people talk about your illness.

Then it's a good thing that you called here, because today you'll find out about the goals, limits and risks of self-help groups.

The goals

First of all, a self-help group is made up of people who are struggling with the same problems and who have made similar experiences over time. In the case of a doctor or hospital, medical care for a patient usually focuses almost exclusively on physical suffering. Due to a lack of time alone, the doctor can rarely give help that is directed to the psyche and the social situation of the patient. This is where the self-help groups step in.

Your rules are always the same:

There is no leader in the group; all members are equal.

There is also no "spectator", because every member of the community is affected by it, seeks help and helps the other members.

The matters discussed are subject to external secrecy.

Participation is voluntary and free of charge.

Such agreed rules create the feeling of security and also of belonging together. Because if someone wants to present his problem in a self group, he doesn't have to explain it for a long time. Rather, everyone is aware of the hopes and fears that can arise during the course of particularly protracted illnesses. Through the exchange with other people affected, the feeling of loneliness and isolation is also alleviated. In the group, different solutions are put together and you can then find your own solution. Of course, medical knowledge about new therapies, drugs and research results is also discussed. Not infrequently, a self-help group helps to create a completely new self-conception and strength.

The limits

Despite these advantages, it can sometimes happen that you feel burdened in a self-help group. Because with certain tasks, self-help groups can simply be overtaxed. Thus, you should not expect professional care such as that provided by a therapist for mental illnesses. Also, the advantage of the self-help groups, i. e. exchanging experiences, can also have negative effects on some problems. For example, if someone wants to deal with a trauma and is also permanently confronted with other traumas.

Self-help groups have been proven to be very useful in the areas of addiction and chronic illnesses. But here too, the rule is that the medical experts should still be the doctors, not the other group members.

The risks

Where there is light, there is also shadow. Unfortunately, this also applies to self-help groups. They can be abused, as the following examples show.

People who are active in the medical field or who want to become active above all else, call a self-help group into being in their area, solely to win customers or patients and to arrange appointments in the so-called self-help group.

Occasionally, professionals also join a self-help group and do not identify themselves. They intend to address those affected personally and then refer them to themselves.
Companies make financial offers to self-help groups, provided that only in the group certain therapies are discussed intensively.

Members of the sects sneak in and try to entice off those affected by the sect.
However, you should not deter the "dangers" now, but only make them sensitive. Because we - the LZG - are convinced that self-help groups are helpful.

Found a self-help group

Around three million people in Germany are involved in about 100,000 self-help groups. Nevertheless, it is possible that "your" group does not yet exist and you have to start it first. How does that work?

Copyright: Landeszentrale fuer Gesundheitsfoerderung in Rheinland-Pfalz e.V. (LZG) Germany