The NAMI Family Support Group Program is a peer-led support group for family and friends of people experiencing mental health conditions, and gives participants an opportunity to learn from their common experience. All groups are confidential and participants may share as much or as little personal information as they want.
NAMI Family Support Group uses a model that is distinct from more traditional “share-and-care” models. Its innovative processes are designed to help facilitators support family members and caregivers dealing with mental health conditions. The program model was created in 1997 by psychologist and family member Dr. Joyce Burland, with assistance from Kate Farinholt and Bette Stewart from NAMI Maryland and Shawne and Larry Beavers from NAMI Colorado. Each group:
- Is led by two loved ones (parent, sibling, caregiver, adult child, spouse or partner) of an individual with a mental health condition
- Meets for 60 to 90 minutes weekly or monthly
- Follows a flexible structure
- Does not recommend or endorse any medications or therapies
This support group model encourages full group participation and creates upbeat and constructive meetings. Facilitators have found the model easy to use because it successfully manages many problematic situations that often undermine the effectiveness of support groups. The NAMI Family Support Group model has four structures—Structured Agenda, Group Guidelines, Principles of Support and Emotional Stages—and three group processes—Hot Potatoes, Group Wisdom and Problem Solving. Each structure and group process exists to remedy a particular set of negative dynamics that commonly occur in support groups.
Any family member of a person who is experiencing or has experienced a mental health condition may apply to become a NAMI Family Support Group facilitator. All potential facilitators are screened to determine whether the opportunity is a good fit for the individual and for the organization. Prospective facilitators attend an intensive training to become certified. All facilitators must be members of NAMI.
Requirements of a NAMI Family Support Group Program Facilitator:
- Must be a family member of a person who is experiencing or has experienced a mental health condition
- Willingness to undergo 2-day NAMI Family Support Group model training
- Maintaining fidelity of the NAMI Family Support Group model is required
- Commitment to facilitate support groups for a minimum of one year
- Ability to provide group participant data as required with the support of NAMI Affiliate
- Willingness to identify potential new facilitators from their support groups
- Positive regard for, or personal experience with mutual support
- Be or become a member of NAMI
More details about the training, held online on Zoom on November 21st and 22nd, will be provided at the interview. You will receive a call within 48 hours after you complete the application process.