Support groups provide a venue for promoting positive therapeutic outcomes and decreasing social isolation across diverse populations and presenting issues. This entry begins by reviewing the purpose of support groups, as well as the process by which individuals select and participate in these groups. The entry then explores types of support groups and common therapeutic factors among them, the role of the group facilitator and the structure of group sessions, potential outcomes of participation, and major criticisms of support groups. It concludes by describing the benefits and challenges associated with online support groups and communities.

Overview of Support Groups

Support groups represent the most commonly functioning group when compared to other therapeutic or counseling groups. The Association for Specialists in Group Work (ASGW) indicates that support groups’ ...

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