It wasn't that long ago that I was looking for a support group in the Los Angeles area. The one that I wanted to attend was about 35 miles away meeting at 7 p.m. on a week night. I would have needed to allow two hours to get there. I realized that a group was needed in my community.
I'm an organizational psychologist and had a lot of experience facilitating group learning and development. So, I started a support group in my neighborhood. It grew slowly at first but after a while we had so many people at our meetings that we had to split the group in two and then, we needed to start a second meeting.
The participants seemed to like that we had a clear and simple way that we did our meetings. They appreciated that we would review helpful material and worked on learning new skills. We regularly asked for feedback and tried to continually improve what we were doing. Ironically, people would travel from other areas because they felt that we had really great meetings.
Some of the participants told me that we should try to reach even more people. I had a fair amount of experience with technology and particularly with video conferencing. We began to experiment with online meetings and they seemed to work well.
Eventually we launched our first online meetings - probably the very first video-based support groups offered by anyone, anywhere. Since that time, we have become Support Groups Central, a place where people can come to help and encourage each other with a variety of life issues.
We continue to offer Depression Recovery Groups and we have now helped thousands of individuals from over 120 countries. 95% of our participants would recommend our services to others. In a study that we did participants reported large reductions in symptoms, use of emergency services and hospital stays.
We are continuing to expand our services by working with partner organizations and nonprofit sponsors. I feel very fortunate that I have been able to do this work. I hope that our groups may be helpful to you.
Wishing you a brighter outlook,
Vince Caimano, Ph.D.
Founder, Support Groups Central