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We are hoping to build a database of women with PTSD support groups, and network as an international peer support system. Therefore, please feel free to Email Us info@womenwithptsdunited.org regarding details, and to let us know about your existing, or in the process of being formed, group. Thank you!

General Guidelines for Starting a Local Support Group for Women with PTSD

The basis for peer support is for individuals who have had the same life experiences help one another. Peer support groups provide a complement - and, for some people, an alternative - to traditional, professionally-guided, talk therapy.

Peer support groups are a place to make friends; find people who will advocate with you and help you advocate for yourself; a place to discuss and obtain information on important topics such as medication, disability benefits, family relations, daily challenges, and others.

Members of support groups can work together on ways to improve the mental health system, and to counter the economic and social discrimination that people with psychiatric disabilities face.

The idea that peers are often the people who are best qualified to provide services and support is gaining widespread acceptance among public officials, mental health professionals, and family members, as well as among people with psychiatric illnesses themselves.

Some of the benefits of peer support groups, compiled by the National Mental Health Consumers' Self-Help Clearinghouse, in starting a self-help/advocacy group:

  • The act of joining together with others who have "walked in their shoes" enables individuals to recognize that they are not alone, that other people have had similar experiences and feelings.
  • Individuals in the mental health system often do not have the support of family and friends. Self-help groups can provide the support that may be missing from their lives.

  • Self-help groups offer a safe place for self-disclosure.

  • Self-help groups encourage personal responsibility and control over one's own treatment.

  • Helping others gives group members a sense of their own competence.

  • In contrast to professional/client relationships, members of self-help groups interact as equals. Peer support groups are also a place for people with mental illnesses to have autonomy. Although professionals may provide a supportive role, especially during the beginning, ideally the professionals will eventually separate themselves from the group. Decisions should come from the entire group, and authority should be distributed.

What makes a good meeting?

First, find a space where everyone feels safe and comfortable. Potential locations include the local library, churches, the YMCA, schools, community centers, and coffee shops. Find out where the local Alcoholics Anonymous chapter meets. It may be a good place for your group. The location should be wheelchair accessible, and close to public transportation.

Decide on a time that will make it possible for the most people to be there. For example, if your group members are comprised of women who work days, it wouldn't be a good idea to schedule meetings for Wednesday mornings. Usually, early evenings on weekdays are the best times for the most people.

Plan the agenda before the first meeting, and distribute it to all members. List the agenda items according to priority, and allot each one a certain amount of time.


Before the meeting, choose a facilitator, whose role is to keep the group focused. Assure that leadership roles and responsibilities are shared among all members.

Someone may be asked to keep time; someone else may take minutes (although self-help group meetings may not require minutes).

Another person could coordinate the provision of snacks and group members can take turns bring refreshments to the meetings.


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