Program Ideas for Support Group Meetings

by Karen Lee Richards Patient Advocate

Keep your support group meetings fun and interesting by varying the types of programs you present.

People enjoy sharing their challenges and learning how others are dealing with similar problems. I like to have a couple of meetings each year when there is no scheduled speaker and group members are free to discuss the issues that most concern them. In order to keep the meeting from getting out of control, it's a good idea to have some discussion topics planned. Questions/topics should be positive and goal-oriented.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • What coping tip has worked best for you?

  • Which alternative therapy has helped you the most?

  • Share one important thing you have learned about communicating with your doctor.

  • What is the biggest challenge your illness presents in your life? (When someone shares her challenge, ask the group to brainstorm ideas that might help.)

  • Share a tip you have learned that has helped your family understand how you are feeling.


Choose a topic you would like to be addressed, then look for a speaker in that area of expertise. Ask your group what most interests them. If you can't find a speaker for a particular topic, you might look for a video on the subject and watch it together. Here are a few popular topics:

  • Pain management

  • Dealing with depression

  • New research

  • Understanding your medications

  • Finding the right doctor for you

  • Communicating with your doctor more effectively

  • Nutrition and supplements

  • Safe exercise

  • Self-help strategies

  • Physical therapy

  • Anger management

  • Social Security Disability

  • Massage therapy

  • Acupuncture

  • Yoga

  • Watsu

  • Reiki

  • Aromatherapy

  • Relaxation and visualization techniques

  • Healing power of the arts/creativity

  • Healing power of humor

  • Taking charge of your healthcare

Other program ideas

Be creative and have some fun. Here are a few more light-hearted program ideas:

  • Have a holiday party. Ask everyone to bring a finger food to share. If you want to do a gift exchange, make the dollar limit very low or ask people to bring something they made themselves.

  • Have an after-holiday party. Ask everyone to bring a gift they received but didn't like to exchange. This can have hilarious results.

  • Celebrate spring by making your meeting a picnic. Everyone can bring her own food or you can make it a potluck dinner.

  • Have a "share your hobby" meeting. Ask members who have a special craft or a unique hobby to share it with the group.

  • Have an awards night. If certain individuals or businesses in your community have been supportive of your group in some way, devote one meeting to thanking them and recognizing them with certificates of appreciation. At the same time you might want to consider presenting books about your illness to the local library.

Karen Lee Richards
Meet Our Writer
Karen Lee Richards

Karen is the co-founder of the National Fibromyalgia Association. She writes for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Pain Management.