We've been there. We can help."
The DBSA Meeting
Attending a support group meeting for the first time can be scary, especially if you experience severe anxiety and don't know anybody. We've been there too. If it helps, you aren't the first nor the last peer to experience anxiety before attending a DBSA support group meeting. This has been a post-meeting topic of discussion for new peers who join the support group.
Some peers have expressed worry about being late to the meeting and and that they'll be "called out" for it. Other peers have expressed concerns about public speaking before a group of strangers. Other peers have expressed social anxiety about "not fitting in" with the group because they perceived themselves not to be "bipolar enough", or, felt that they were "too depressed" to express their own concerns.
DBSA Rock Hill is a judgement free zone. We don't criticize. We welcome. We don't judge people on a scale of 1 to 10 and cast peers out of a meeting because they don't fit the criteria. We welcome everyone, especially friends, family, partners, and significant others who provide support. DBSA uses a set template followed by all of its chapters and support groups to establish a safe environment for sharing and caring.
Our goal is to welcome you to the meeting whether you arrive early, on time, or late. Please know that we welcome you and that you are in a safe environment. If you arrive early, you may be greeted by a group facilitator who will greet you warmly and share information about DBSA and the meeting. If you wish, then please feel free to introduce yourself to other peers as they arrive but please know that there's absolutely no requirement to do so. DBSA Rock Hill uses an attendance sign-in sheet system to track the number of peers who attend the meeting. The only "required" information is your first name. Phone number and e-mail address information is optional. We collect this information for peers who attend the meetings and want to be kept informed about chapter activities through an anonymous e-mail distribution list. Announcements include church and holiday closures, meeting cancellations, and special events held by our community partners here in Rock Hill and in Charlotte. Providing your full name and contact information is optional and not a requirement for attending the meeting. If you provide your contact information you can opt out at any time by contacting the DBSA Rock Hill chapter at email@example.com
The group facilitator will start the meeting with a brief introduction that includes information about DBSA and any announcements. Please note that all peers in the DBSA support group have an equal say within safe guidelines. The facilitator’s role is to help maintain a safe environment, keep track of topics introduced for discussion, give everyone an opportunity to share, and to move the meeting along so that as many topics and support concerns are addressed.
Reading the Support Group Guidelines
DBSA has its own set of meeting guidelines designed to promote a safe, respectful, and confidential environment for sharing sensitive topics. These guidelines are printed on the back of a card that has the DBSA Support Group guidelines printed on one side and a Facilitator Shield on the other side. The purpose of the guidelines is to create a safe environment. The purpose of the shield is to maintain the safe environment. As a peer, you have the right to hold up the facilitator shield if you feel uncomfortable about a topic because it causes a trigger or makes you feel uncomfortable. We also use the shield to move the meeting along if a peer believes we have fully covered a topic. Once the guidelines are read, any person who chooses to stay in the meeting room is expected to abide by them.
After reading the guidelines we do a check-in. The purpose of the check-in is to introduce ourselves and any topics or concerns for future discussion during the meeting AFTER everyone checks in. We only require a first name during check-in. Additional information is optional. Additional information may include disclosure of a personal diagnosis, total number of years since being diagnosed, topics for discussion, and personal concerns requiring peer group support. Check-in time is limited to 2 minutes per person.
This is the heart of the meeting and the reason for being here. Topics and concerns introduced during check-in are discussed in greater depth in a safe, supportive, and caring environment. Peer-based coping skills and strategies are shared and discussed. “You should (or shouldn’t) do…” statements are not permitted. Introducing strong personal opinions – despite the best of intentions – may cause a peer to feel shame which violates the principle of safety during the meeting.
End of the Meeting
About 10 minutes before the end of the meeting we circulate an envelope and collect voluntary donations from members. There is no expectation for anyone to make a contribution no shame if a donation is not collected. The purpose of collecting donations is to pay for chapter re-affiliation dues. purchase brochures and educational materials, and to provide a small donation to our host organization for use of the space. None of DBSA Rock Hill’s officers, facilitators, and peers receive compensation for our services. Doing so is a violation of our chapter by-laws.