21 Aug Building happiness with online support groups, and more…
Given our efforts, here at The Happiness Institute, to build online methods and groups and reinforcement for happiness via the principles of positive psychology on Twitter, Facebook and our own website, we found this article of interest and hope you will too; here’s just a sample…
from Psychology Today
We now have more than a decade of growing _ã–evidence_ã for support groups_ã_ efficacy _ã_ in this era where _ã–evidence-based_ã is a mantra. Introduced by Dr. John Grohol, himself a pioneer in the promotion of online mental health resources, the first presenter was Dr. Azy Barak, widely known for maintaining and contributing to a vast bibliography of research involving Internet-based applications. He has both researched and developed numerous support groups, and has a particular interest in exploring the factors which contribute to positive outcomes for support group participants.
The two main mechanisms identified as key factors in positive experience among support group members are (1) the psychological effects of expressive writing [e.g., Pennebaker] and (2) group process dynamics, as classically described by Yalom. Some stages are fairly universal, while others may hold special appeal online, and bring both opportunities and challenges. Think: development of group cohesion, universality, ventilation, experience of mutual support, an atmosphere of advice giving & receiving, and shared learning.
Research to date has generally shown that participants tend to report satisfaction and relief, despite ongoing debates about proving _ã–effectiveness_ã absolutely _ã_ the same efficacy vs. effectiveness discussion raging in f2f outcome research.
Dr. Barak and his colleagues conducted a series of 4 studies, targeting different populations (types/severity of distress) and using different methodology _ã_ the brief version being that some were part of an open-group environment, others closed, most using a forum format, free and anonymous. The study focused on identifying factors related to more positive ratings of the experience at _ã–post-test_ã via self-ratings. In general the results indicate a significant relationship between level of participation (sending and receiving messages) and positive outcome. Questions at the end included one about contributing factors beyond participation level. In one word, Dr. Barak pointed to a big one: Motivation. Other speakers also spoke of _ã–engagement_ã as a challenge.
Read more HERE…and give some thought to joining in our online efforts on FACEBOOK and TWITTER and/or sign up to receive our free weekly eNewsletter. As the research suggests, online group support as we’re trying to provide can prove extremely effective and useful!