The Telephone Helpline: 1-800-566-6599
What Are Support Groups?
Body Positive support groups are designed for people who are infected or affected by HIV/AIDS to have a place to go and people to talk to about various issues. The program is built to provide emotional support, information, and camaraderie for people. While there is a suggested donation of up to five dollars per session, there is no required fee and no one is ever turned away for reasons of cost. We maintain strict confidentiality with all of our programs, and ask that all support group participants do the same.
How Do Support Groups Work?
There are two kinds of Body Positive support groups: drop-in and enrolled.
Drop-in groups meet weekly (there is a schedule published in this magazine every month!) for 90 minutes to 2 hours. Anyone can come to a drop-in group. You do not have to disclose any information. Enrolled groups also meet weekly for an hour and a half. But there are a few differences.
Drop-in groups: -- meet weekly -- are ongoing -- involve no commitment -- are open groups, so you can just drop by whenever you feel like it without making an appointment and -- have topics that may repeat.
Enrolled groups: -- meet weekly -- run for 12 meetings over 12 weeks -- involve closed groups, so only people who have signed up in advance will attend -- require an intake, so you will be invited to join a particular group and -- have topics that may be more structured.
Who Are Support Groups For?
Body Positive support groups are for anyone who is infected or affected by HIV/AIDS and would like support or someone to talk to. Some of the people who attend our groups are people with HIV/AIDS, friends, partners, and caregivers. Most groups take place in downtown Manhattan but groups are organized based on participant preference. Support groups are often helpful for people who are dealing with HIV/AIDS-related issues. Sometimes, people do better with a more clinical group, or with one-on-one counseling. We can help you determine whether a Body Positive support group or some other type of help would be the best option for you.
What Specific Issues Do Support Groups Cover?
Support groups may cover a variety of issues. Currently, we have 6 drop-in groups running (see below).
Some of our enrolled groups have included HIV+ Couples, HIV+ Gay Men, HIV+ Women, HIV+ Long-Term Survivors, and HIV+ Newly Diagnosed Individuals. We tailor our enrolled groups to the interests and needs of our participants.
Who Are the Support Group Facilitators?
Our support groups run on a peer-based model. All Body Positive support groups are facilitated by a caring group of volunteers and staff members who have been trained in facilitation skills and in HIV/AIDS issues. While our facilitators are well trained and supervised, they usually are not mental health professionals. Our support group facilitators come from all over the city and from the surrounding areas as well. They are men and women of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds.
How Do I Get Involved?
If you are interested in a drop-in group:
If you are interested in an enrolled group:
If you have questions or would like more information, you can call the Body Positive Helpline at 1-800-566-6599. The line is open Monday to Friday, 10 am to 6 pm. This is a free call.
If you are interested in volunteering as a support group facilitator, or would like more information, and you are located in the New York City area, please call us at (212) 566-7333.
Dana S. Levin, M.A. is Director of Volunteer and Client Support Services at Body Positive.
Back to the December 2000 issue of Body Positive magazine.
This article was provided by Body Positive. It is a part of the publication Body Positive.