6 Pages

Stand by Your Stance

Dear Consultant: I have recently begun leading support groups for individuals with cancer and two problems have arisen. The groups, located in a general hospital, are structured to run for a 12-week cycle with the same members, except that new members can join during the first 3 weeks of the cycle. Each group lasts for 2 hours, and the typical membership is 12 to 14 people, both men and women, although generally there are more women than men. The format of the groups is to have some educational portion at the beginning of each session, followed by an open discussion that ranges from expected discussion about cancer in general to very deeply personal, and painful, sharing of current experiences. Very often, the group feels very much like a psychotherapy group and indeed two members in particular have been asking to eliminate the educational portion entirely, wanting to have more time for personal sharing.