New group provides support, structure and empowerment

Allies Support Group

Open to all past and present patients of Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital’s Department of Psychiatry, the Allies group is a new, free, weekly support group run by peer support facilitators.

“We know that many of our patients struggle to find resources in the community once they leave our programs,” says Director of Inpatient Psychology and Training Christopher AhnAllen, PhD. “The Allies support group is intended to help. It’s an aftercare group where patients can continue the support they have received here, learn new coping skills, add structure to their lives, feel a sense of community with peers and continue their strong connection to BWFH.”

The group is run by BWFH’s Peer Volunteer Judith Ashton and Certified Peer Specialists James Eby and Keyauna Hoffman. Peers are people with similar experiences to the patients with whom they work. They have experiences with mental distress, trauma, substance use and/or a mental health diagnosis. They have learned skills and have the support to live a full life. They also have had training and experience in assisting others in their recovery. In the inpatient psychiatry unit at BWFH, peers provide hope, encouragement, connection, understanding and/or assistance in a mutual relationship that is built upon unconditional positive regard and trust. They also provide information on resources available to patients to help them after they leave the hospital.

In the new Allies support group setting, peers will check in with group members at the beginning of the group. Then one of the facilitators will introduce a topic for the week, such as coping skills, building resilience, creating structure, empowerment, resources available in the community, psychoeducation, etc. Attendees will then have the chance to participate in an open discussion of the day’s topic. The group ends with the peers checking in with group members about what they learned in the group that day.

“We are hoping that, after some time, group members will want to take leadership of the group and make modifications as they desire,” says Ashton. “At that point, the facilitators will step back and group members will run the group with whatever assistance they require or wish from us.”

Are you a past or present patient of BWFH’s Department of Psychiatry? Interested in joining the Allies support group? The group meets every Saturday, beginning August 3, from 10 am to 12 noon in Group Room 3 on the second floor at BWFH. Please join us!

Please note, the Allies group is limited to BWFH community members. No observers, family or friends, please.

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