Facilitating a support group is a lot of pressure.  Standing in front of a room full of people who are looking to you for answers is nerve-racking.  Our hosts, Juliet Dorris-Williams and Gabe Howard have been there!  On this episode of PEER Voices, they share the knowledge and experience gained through guiding hundreds of peer groups.   Whether you are a seasoned leader or just starting out, Juliet and Gabe can help you be more relaxed, more engaging, and offer better support to our peers.

Show Notes: 

5:37 – “We need to know that other people have done it. Have managed to get past some things. That other people have managed to live in recovery.” (Peer support groups demonstrate that success is possible for someone like you.)

15:33 – “Just figure out what people commonly mistake or don’t know, and fix it.”  (If you are consistently having the same problems, re-think your approach.)

17:41 – “Consistency is very comforting. Especially if you’re fearful, or worried, or anxious, or new at this.”  (Make sure your support group has clear rules that are always followed.)

20:25“People will talk. Somebody will fill the silence. Just don’t feel obligated to make it be you.  (Don’t rush to speak, let group participants have time to answer.)

24:22 – “Too many groups closed down because they’re like, “Oh, it didn’t work. It didn’t. It wasn’t an overnight success.” (A support group needs to meet consistently for 6 months or more to become established.)

Transcript of  “ Support Groups: Tips and tricks for successful facilitators

Editor’s Note:  This transcript is computer generated and therefore may not be an exact match to the recording.

Announcer: [00:00:07] You’re listening to The PEER Voices podcast. This show is for peers, by peers, and focuses on information that’s important to our community. Here’s your hosts Juliet Dorris-Williams and Gabe Howard.

Gabe: [00:00:27] Hello, everyone, and welcome to this episode of PEER Voices. My name is Gabe Howard.

Juliet: [00:00:31] And I am Juliet Dorris-Williams. Welcome.

Gabe: [00:00:34] And in today’s episode, we are going to talk peer recovery support groups. Just, anything to do with support groups.

Juliet: [00:00:41] Wow.

Gabe: [00:00:42] Is live. We’re ready to do it.

Juliet: [00:00:44] Peer support groups all the time.

Gabe: [00:00:47] All peers?

Juliet: [00:00:48] Peers gone wild.

Gabe: [00:00:51] [Laughter]

Juliet: [00:00:51] Peer support groups gone wild. That’s us.

Gabe: [00:00:55] There’s obviously a lot to cover when it comes to support groups. And the first thing that I want to start off is to define a peer support group. And you know, one of the most common and probably well known peer support groups in the country is Alcoholics Anonymous.

Juliet: [00:01:08] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:01:08] And that is just based on straight up peer support. There is somebody . . .

Juliet: [00:01:12] Absolutely.

Gabe: [00:01:13] Yeah. Somebody recovered from alcoholism, helping people who are either in recovery themselves and wanting to stay there –

Juliet: [00:01:20] Right.

Gabe: [00:01:20] Or people who are trying to get into recovery and need the support of the people around them.

Juliet: [00:01:25] Right.

Gabe: [00:01:26] So you know that’s kind of easy. I mean, I don’t think anybody in our community is really confused by that. That’s all it is.

Juliet: [00:01:33] It’s not confusing. I mean, I don’t think they’re confused. I think that they don’t routinely apply it to people living with mental illness or trauma. They just don’t recognize it as the same process when it is. It absolutely is the exact same process.

Gabe: [00:01:54] Literally. It’s fascinating. And I know we’ve talked about this before. It’s kind of something that our community talks about a lot, but I think it’s worthy of revisiting. When people hear “peer support,” especially when you’re just talking mental illness, they think the whole “inmates running the asylum” kind of thing.

Juliet: [00:02:09] Yes, exactly.

Gabe: [00:02:10] And they think, “Well, peer support, that’s not a good idea. That’s not a good idea.”

Juliet: [00:02:12] Right.

Gabe: [00:02:13] We have to gently remind people of, you know, how long a has been around. And there’s lots of other examples too. I always use Weight Watchers. You know my mom?

Juliet: [00:02:22] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:02:22] A lifetime member.

Juliet: [00:02:23] Yes. This peer support.

[00:02:24] Yeah. It’s straight up peer support. And then, you know, I was in sales for a long time, and every single sales conference was led by successful sales people.

Juliet: [00:02:33] Exactly.

Gabe: [00:02:34] Helping people who want to either stay successful or be successful.

Juliet: [00:02:37] People who have walked the journey. Walked the walk.

Gabe: [00:02:40] Yeah.

Juliet: [00:02:40] And now can talk the talk.

Gabe: [00:02:41] Yeah. And if people are really still giving push back, I always say, “Who do you think trains doctors to be doctors?”

Juliet: [00:02:50] Doctors?

Gabe: [00:02:50] Yes, other doctors!

Juliet: [00:02:52] It doesn’t make sense, because it’s so simple.

Gabe: [00:02:56] It really doesn’t. But these are some examples of it. If you’re starting a peer support group and people are giving you pushback on it, like, “I don’t know if that’s a good idea. Don’t do that.” There is this idea that support groups need to be led by trained professionals.

Juliet: [00:03:08] Trained professionals.

Gabe: [00:03:10] And there are support groups that are led by social workers, psychologists.

Juliet: [00:03:14] Absolutely.

Gabe: [00:03:15] And I think there’s nothing wrong with those groups.

Juliet: [00:03:17] I want to go back to your other example. Who train social workers?

Gabe: [00:03:22] Other social workers?

Juliet: [00:03:23] Yes. So other social workers, who move had the training, done the work, and  been out in the community, or wherever. Wherever we find ourselves.

Gabe: [00:03:32] So, if anybody says that peer support groups aren’t valid, or aren’t good, or won’t work, you really should have a lot of fodder for a comeback.

Juliet: [00:03:43] It’s very stigmatizing.

Gabe: [00:03:44] It is stigmatizing when people say it. And to be fair, sometimes it’s the people who you’re targeting for your group. You say, “Hey this is a great group! It’s based on peer support.” And they’re like, “I need a doctor.” or “I need a social worker.” Or the one that makes certified peer recovery supporters cringe, “I need a professional.”

Juliet: [00:04:02] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:04:02] Well, we’re professional.

Juliet: [00:04:05] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:04:05] Just in a different space and in a different way. We’re not insulting any of those other support groups at all. We’re just focusing the conversation on leading, starting, attending, and everything you need to know about a peer support group specifically. Because what’s one of the big advantages of a peer support group?

Juliet: [00:04:22] Well, it’s what we’ve said before, about people who have been there and done that, and, you know, walked the journey. And have learned some things along the way, and are willing to share what worked for them. To share, you know, those pitfalls. Because journeys always have pitfalls and potholes, as it were when you are learning. Just willing to share. That is the main benefit. Just having someone who’s already been there.

Gabe: [00:04:56] It’s also nice to be in the same room with somebody who has literally been where you are.

Juliet: [00:05:01] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:05:02] And is presumably where you’re going. It’s a lot easier to do something when you’ve seen somebody else do it first. And I think that’s probably the biggest one, at least for me. That was the biggest thing. You know, when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I kept seeing doctors, and they were all very hopeful. And therapists that was all very helpful. But when I walked into a room with a bunch of people with bipolar disorder, and they were all in various stages of recovery, including people who were married or owned houses, I was like, “Wait. OK I can do it.” And the only reason I now believed I could do it, is because that guy did it. That’s it. That’s all it is.

Juliet: [00:05:36] Right.

Gabe: [00:05:37] That was like it.

Juliet: [00:05:37] Right. We need to know that other people have done it. Have managed to get past some things. That other people have managed to live in recovery. I don’t know, I don’t like to say the word “recover,” but rather “living in recovery.” And that’s important work because we’re, I think, we’re like a pack. Like pack animals in some sense, in that we need our tribe. We need a sense of belonging and that is what recovery is. It is about belonging. So.

Gabe: [00:06:12] It’s also a great place to vent. You know? You can’t vent to your doctor, you can’t vent to a social worker. I mean, because, they always try to make it productive. And I understand that. You know, if I’m paying somebody a hundred dollars an hour and I’m like, “I hate being bipolar.” And then they’re like, “Can you reframe that?”

Juliet: [00:06:27] [Laughter]

Gabe: [00:06:27] That’s very good. But so –

Juliet: [00:06:30] Hopefully nobody’s saying. Oh my God just hopefully!

Gabe: [00:06:33] You know what I mean.

Juliet: [00:06:34] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:06:34] And that’s the kind of thing that you can say to other peers. You can say, “I hate this.” And they’ll be like, “Yeah it sucks.”

Juliet: [00:06:42] OK, guys it sucks. Yeah.

Gabe: [00:06:44] And you’re like, “All right. I don’t feel alone anymore.” And we’re sort of talking about that. I mean, you know, we’re obviously preaching to the choir. I don’t think there’s anybody listening to this that doesn’t understand this. But sometimes, when we start peer support groups, we wonder why nobody’s coming. We’re like we understand the value of this, but are we explaining it to people who are newer on the journey?

Juliet: [00:07:05] I don’t know that we’re not explaining it. I don’t know if there’s some magic to explaining it. What I do think, is that there’s fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of walking into a space where you’re the only one. Or where you’re gonna feel like you’re the only one. That you’re new, and nobody likes that new feeling. Like first day on the job, or the first day at school, or anywhere you go into a new environment. New church, new school, new any of that, any of those things, you feel like you’re not going to be accepted. And people are going to judge you, and reject you, and it’s just pure fear. So it is fear.

Gabe: [00:07:47] What are some things that a moderator, or host, you know at The PEER Center we say host. The PEER Center hosts a lot of groups.

Juliet: [00:07:55] Sure.

Gabe: [00:07:55] And we’ve got it. Yeah.

Juliet: [00:07:57] Lots of groups.

Gabe: [00:07:57] We’ve hosted, probably, thousands of groups over the last decade.

Juliet: [00:08:02] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:08:02] What are some hints and tips that we can give, you know, that the moderators can use to help promote the groups? Because, you know, we’ve got it a little easier. We just walk out in to a room and say, “Hey who wants to go to a group?”

Juliet: [00:08:14] Right.

Gabe: [00:08:14] And maybe we know the people? You know? We know them by name, and we can invite them in. But when you’re advertising to the public, you know, that gets a little bit harder. Because you don’t know their name and you don’t even really know who’s seen the e-mail blast or the notice in the community calendar. But what are some hints and tips that they can use for advertising to get that person who’s sitting on their couch? He’s intrigued by the idea, but like you said, they’re afraid of some things. That we can say to seal the deal?

Juliet: [00:08:41] I want to go back to what happens at The PEER Center with respect to groups. And, yes, the easy thing to do is to go announce, “We’re having a group!” But the fact of the matter is that we’re a drop in center, so we may have very super new people. They just showed up today. How do we get them to take another step? Because they took it. They took one step by walking in the door. They took another step, and they stayed a while. Third step is to come down the hall and, you know, sit in the group with some people that you really just met. And have a conversation about bipolar disorder or depression or whatever. And so at the point of announcing the group, it is my hope that our staff are taking these things into consideration. That the new people need a little bit more encouragement to just, you know, come check it out. You don’t have to talk. That kind of thing, to make them feel super comfortable about being in this space with these people that they don’t know. To talk about stuff that might be helpful, but maybe not. But you know, come in and have a snack. That’s why we give the snacks, right people?

Gabe: [00:09:57] [Laughter]

Juliet: [00:09:58] But with respect to what your other scenario, about when you’re out in the community and trying to get people into your group. I’m not sure that I have that magic formula for that. Because the one before The PEER Center, years ago, when I was volunteering with another organization, I would show up. It was a free group. The groups were semi-advertised. I never saw any advertising but I was a volunteer so I showed up. They said the group’s happening here. I went there. I never knew who was coming. Not ever. I might have five people in the room, I might have 21 people in the room, which, that happened. It did.

Gabe: [00:10:43] Yeah.

Juliet: [00:10:43] Happened a few times, that I had anywhere from five to 20 people in the room, and I never knew. Sometimes they were regulars and repeats, sometimes just fresh and new. “Hey how you doing? Welcome.” But it is still upon the facilitator to think on their feet and to be nimble enough to feed into what the group’s process is. Which is making sure everyone’s welcome. Making sure everyone has an opportunity to talk. Even the introverts among them, which, interestingly, I was the facilitator, but also an introvert. And so you don’t get to be introverted in this scenario at all. And you have to be inviting people to talk. “What do you think about this? Do you have anything to add?” Not putting people on the spot, but just giving them a space. Giving them space to engage.

Gabe: [00:11:36] I like what you said earlier, about using The PEER Center as kind of a model. And that it’s a process. It’s a multi-step process. We tend to look at support groups that are offered to the community as a single step. The step is you show up. But like you said, there are so many additional steps. Yeah. There’s the first, that they have to find out about it. I work in the community and we’re not necessarily involved in that stuff. We don’t know how they found out about it. If they saw our email? Our announcement? Or word of mouth advertising?  Right? You don’t get to participate in that one. Right? But one of the things that we can do, and I always recommend, is to include a phone number or an email. Because that’s sort of that pre-contemplation. They see the ad and they’re thinking about it. Maybe if, you know, they’re not sure that they want to show up. But they’re willing to fire off an email. They’re willing to make a phone call and say, “Hey, what’s this group all about?”

Juliet: [00:12:26] Right.

Gabe: [00:12:26] And that is an excellent way to get somebody’s feet wet. Because of you. If you answer quickly, if it’s an email, if you’re friendly, if you’re reassuring.

Juliet: [00:12:36] Right.

Gabe: [00:12:36] And of course, all this transfers over to the phone as well. People are much more likely to take the next step. Which, as you pointed out, might be just walking in and sitting in the room quietly in a corner and observing. And that’s a powerful step. And, as you also pointed out, it’s up to the moderator to say, “Would anybody like to talk?”

Juliet: [00:12:53] Sure.

Gabe: [00:12:53] And then maybe linger for a moment, and see if that person takes the deep breath. And then, when the meeting is over, recognize the new people. Especially the new people that maybe didn’t share. Walk over and say, “I’m so glad that you came.” These things pay big dividends in getting people to open up and participate.

Juliet: [00:13:11] Mm-hmm.

Gabe: [00:13:11] For lack of a better word. All of the various steps to becoming whatever it is they hope to achieve.

Juliet: [00:13:18] Facilitators also need to make sure that, you know, introductions are done, and that goes a long way. It gets, or at least feeds, gets people started on talking, even if they just say their name. So, just having them introduce themselves to the group, that helps.

Gabe: [00:13:35] It is a big step. I think everybody is very, you know, Alcoholics Anonymous has sort of made its way into pop culture. But there’s a thing that AA does, where you introduce yourself and everybody says hello back.

Juliet: [00:13:46] Right. That’s right.

Gabe: [00:13:47] You know it’s sort of. . .

Juliet: [00:13:48] I love that, actually.

Gabe: [00:13:49] Yeah, it is really good because it makes you feel good.

Juliet: [00:13:51] Yes, I am welcome. You feel right and accepted immediately.

Gabe: [00:13:55] Yeah, and these are the things that you can place into your support group that would make it more welcoming or inviting. One of the things that I used to do when, I led, you know, we had an anonymous support group. So I would always tell people at the close of every group, I’d say, you know, welcome to the new people. I wouldn’t single them out by name.

Juliet: [00:14:14] Right.

Gabe: [00:14:14] I’d say welcome to the new people, and I’d say, “I want everybody to know, that because this is anonymous group, if you don’t come next week, you know, we can’t call you.”

Juliet: [00:14:22] Right, exactly.

Gabe: [00:14:22] We don’t. We don’t collect phone numbers for example. But I want you to know I will know if you’re not here and I would very much like you to come back. And I’d leave it at that. So, it just kind of gets the idea out because some people are like, “Well, I’ll come if they call.” That’s why I put the idea in their head immediately that I can’t call.

Juliet: [00:14:39] Right, right. At The PEER Center, were not set up like that either. And when I was doing it out in the community, several years ago again, I would show up because I’m scheduled to be there. I have no idea who’s going to be in the room

Gabe: [00:14:54] And this might be somebody’s first time to the traditional peer support model, or to an anonymous model. You know, they might be thinking, “Oh well, when I go to the support group, led by a psychologist or a therapist, if I don’t show up, I get a call from the office.” Well yeah, they’re set up for that. There’s probably billing, and they have your information, and it’s important to understand that there is more onus on you. And it’s good for the facilitator to remind people of that. You know, remind people of how they fit in to all of this. And because some people legitimately don’t know, and it goes a long way to reducing their fear.

Juliet: [00:15:33] Yes.

Gabe: [00:15:33] If you don’t make them ask, yes. Just figure out what people commonly mistake or don’t know, and fix it. And a big one is, make sure you have good signage.

Juliet: [00:15:45] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:15:45] If you’re in the church basement, when people walk in the front door, have a big sign that says, “Bi polar bears to the left.” And then when they go left, “Bi polar bears down the steps.” I say that because I went to Bi polar bears in church basements, and it was scary. You know, it was dark, it was winter, it was cold. I pull into this dimly lit church parking lot, and I walk in the front door. And I had decided that if I walk in that front door and I’m confused, I’m turning around to walk away. And I opened up the door and there was a giant sign. And another point. That was just it.

Juliet: [00:16:17] Well, I’m glad that happened. That didn’t happen for me when I went to my support group. Because before I was a facilitator, I was that strange person walking into a new room with people I don’t know and I’ve never been there before. And there was no sign, I just knew where it was. I guess that was good. On the organization’s side of things, that they made sure. If I decided to go, I did actually get a couple of phone calls which is a whole other story.

Gabe: [00:16:48] Different groups work differently. I mean, we should be fair.

Juliet: [00:16:51] If I decided to go, I got a phone call because of weather. There was weather a couple of times. Don’t go tonight. Big groups are not happening tonight and because of weather all the groups are canceled. And I didn’t get any any calls after that, though, and they didn’t take attendance. None of that was happening. It was completely anonymous. Pretty much.

Gabe: [00:17:14] Right.

Juliet: [00:17:14] But somehow, somebody must have communicated that Juliet ended up in that group that day, or a few days after that. So because, I really don’t know how that happened.

Gabe: [00:17:28] And different groups are gonna operate differently. You just have to figure it out and be consistent. I know that’s like one of those lame things that people say. But one of the things that makes people feel comfortable, is if the group operates the same way week after week after week.

Juliet: [00:17:40] Yes. Yes.

Gabe: [00:17:41] Consistency is very comforting. Especially if you’re fearful, or worried, or anxious, or new at this.

Juliet: [00:17:49] And we shouldn’t avoid talking about the skill of the facilitator, because that helps too. If the facilitator has handled that group, or that welcoming process. And they’re prepared with it. With the subject matter, and they’re prepared to engage in it. In a conversation with several people all at once. That goes a long way.

Gabe: [00:18:14] It really does. And when you’re talking about the skill of the facilitator, you know some people might hear that you have to have thousands of hours of training and experience et cetera.

Juliet: [00:18:23] Nah.

Gabe: [00:18:23] There’s a couple of really small rules that a facilitator can have. That makes them instantly better. And one of them is it’s not about you.

Juliet: [00:18:33] That’s right.

Gabe: [00:18:34] That literally is the top one.

Juliet: [00:18:35] Right.

Gabe: [00:18:36] Some folks, they believe, that they’re getting into the facilitation game so that they can share their wisdom. You really need to get in the facilitation game so you can listen to people.

Juliet: [00:18:47] Right.

Gabe: [00:18:47] And help enforce, you know, group guidelines. You know, make sure there’s no cross talk or people aren’t interrupting each other. Nobody’s dominating the conversation.

Juliet: [00:18:55] Exactly.

Gabe: [00:18:56] Ask good leading questions. If you want to share your story, that’s exceptional. I love it but . . .

Juliet: [00:19:04] That’s called a lecture or a speech.

Gabe: [00:19:06] Yes, that’s a different thing.

Juliet: [00:19:08] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:19:08] It’s hard for people. You know, they want to share their story and that’s why they become a facilitator. And that’s just not the right place for you. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to share your story.

Juliet: [00:19:18] And you will in the context of that group process. And it’s not a part of the planned content, because you should have some planned content. But in the context of reacting to and answering people’s questions. We’re the experts in our own story and our own history. And we can share the wisdom of that in that context. But don’t get up on a soapbox.

Gabe: [00:19:48] I bring this up and, just to self disclose, when I first started facilitating groups, you know, the first couple of groups I was very uncomfortable silence. And I filled it and I have a podcast so I can fill silence.

Juliet: [00:20:06] You have several.

Gabe: [00:20:06] Yeah. And people pointed out to me, and this is the next bit of information that I want to have. I had a co-facilitator, and after a couple of sessions my co-facilitator pulled me aside and said, “Listen, you’re going to have to get comfortable with silence. You can’t fill the time with Gabe.”

Juliet: [00:20:23] People will talk.

Gabe: [00:20:24] Yeah.

Juliet: [00:20:25] And take a breath. People will talk. Somebody will fill the silence. J don’t feel obligated to make it be you.

Gabe: [00:20:33] That was probably one of the most powerful lessons I learned as a facilitator. To put the question out there and then just wait.

Juliet: [00:20:39] Wait.

Gabe: [00:20:40] And it’s hard because, you know, my brain’s going a million miles a minute and I’m thinking that they’re not going to like it. They don’t like me. That they think I’m ugly and just don’t like what I do. But then, you know, 10-15 seconds of silence in a roomful of people saying nothing is an eternity. But then somehow. . .

Juliet: [00:20:53] Think about if you have a roomful of introverts. So this is what’s happening in the brain of the introvert. It’s like, “I’m thinking about it. I’m thinking about what you just said, and I’m trying to formulate a response that makes sense in my head before it comes out of my mouth.” And so there’s all this stuff going on that you can’t see.

Gabe: [00:21:14] Some of those people are just afraid of interrupting somebody. So you know, three or four people may have something they want to share. But because they’re uncomfortable, or they’re fearful, or they’re polite, they don’t want to be the first one to speak. So just let it go. It’ll happen.

Juliet: [00:21:30] It’ll happen.

Gabe: [00:21:31] The last thing that I want to touch on is, you know, getting word to all about your support group. You know, when they’re talking about, you know, advertising. Put it in your community calendars, put it on your email blast. You know, get or let people know to spread the word in your group. Let them know that they can share.

Juliet: [00:21:44] Put it on Facebook.

Gabe: [00:21:44] Yeah, put it on Facebook. A couple of really good tips that I have is that if you start a brand new support group, be in it for the long haul. Don’t wait two or three sessions and say nobody’s interested

Juliet: [00:21:56] No, it takes awhile.

Gabe: [00:21:58] Give yourself six months.

Juliet: [00:21:59] It has to build.

Gabe: [00:22:01] It does.

Juliet: [00:22:02] You have to be consistent and showing up. And if you put it out on social media, you just you never know who’s going to see it or when. And so yeah, patience.

Gabe: [00:22:13] Let the group build. I’ve heard of way too many groups that had just so much potential, and closed down after three or four sessions due to lack of interest and come on.

Juliet: [00:22:23] That’s disappointing.

Gabe: [00:22:24] It really is. The next thing is, you know, there’s a little bit of, sort of, you know, modeling the way. Tell people to bring a friend, you know? Come to our, you know, bring a friend to you support group. Bring a support system. Now, again, your group has to be open to this.

Juliet: [00:22:39] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:22:39] But you know, one of the ways that I know is, I bring up, you know, Bi polar bears, and then they put in words underneath, “bring a friend, does not have to be bi polar to attend.” And I brought my wife with me. The very first time and she did not have bipolar disorder, but she just sat with me in the room the very first time. I don’t believe she said anything but that made me, Gabe, feel comfortable.

Juliet: [00:23:00] Sure.

Gabe: [00:23:00] And then from there on, I didn’t need her anymore. But that got me in the room. And one of the reasons I picked them, aside from the adorable name, is because they wrote that I could bring somebody with me. And I didn’t know them, but I had confidence in my friend. But again, you have to have a support group that’s open to that. Not every support group is, but you know I encourage it.

Juliet: [00:23:20] We here at The PEER Center, we do encourage people to bring people. You know, family members, loved ones, even their clinician, their professional clinician, if they want to bring a friend.

Gabe: [00:23:35] And as long as your group is set up that way, and the rules are very clear, it’s good. And I’ve seen other groups, you know, just to kind of put out there, you know, you can change anything that Gabe and Juliet are saying. There is a support group that I attended, that it was open house or open meeting, the first meeting of every month. I think it was on Monday. So the first Monday of every month you could bring anybody in. Then the next three meetings were closed, you had to have the diagnosis. So that’s how they sort of got around that. So first timers were really encouraged, if they needed to bring a friend to go to the first one.

Juliet: [00:24:07] Right.

Gabe: [00:24:08] Then they kept some, you know, some privacy, or anonymity, or fidelity in the other group. So good. So you know, host an open house or whatever you need to do. But you know, just be open to the idea. I really can’t stress enough that you’ve got to wait six months.

Juliet: [00:24:22] Easily. Six months easily.

Gabe: [00:24:22] Too many groups closed down because they’re like, “Oh, it didn’t work. It didn’t. It wasn’t an overnight success.” Juliet, you have any final words for our group?

Juliet: [00:24:32] People who are doing this kind of thing independently might need to give it a little bit more time. Being supported with an organization, will help with respect to marketing and getting the word out, however.

Gabe: [00:24:46] And legitimacy.

Juliet: [00:24:48] And then, to add to that and to backup to all of that. It’s not hard, but it is something to remember, what you said about doing it for the long haul. It’s worth it.

Gabe: [00:25:03] Juliet, it’s always fun hosting with you. Thank you so much.

Juliet: [00:25:06] Thank you.

Gabe: [00:25:06] You’re very welcome. And to all of our listeners thank you so much for tuning in. Please spread the word. Put it on your social media. Tag The PEER Center so that we know you did it. We’ll see everybody next time here on PEER Voices

Juliet & Gabe: [00:25:22] Bye!

Announcer: [00:25:22] You’ve been listening to the PEER Voices podcast sponsored by The PEER Center with a grant from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. To learn more about this podcast, please visit OhioPeers.org. To learn more about The PEER Center please visit ThePEERCenter.org. We encourage you to share this podcast with other peers in our community. Thank you for listening, and see you next time on PEER Voices.