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NAMI Connection Support Group Facilitator Training

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The NAMI Connection Recovery Support Group Program is a peer-led support group program for any adult (18+) with a mental health condition. NAMI Connection grew out of the NAMI Family Support Group model, which was developed in 1997 under the leadership of psychologist and family member Dr. Joyce Burland. Group meetings are held once a week, once every other week or monthly and last for 90 minutes. This program offers participants the support of peers who understand their point of view and celebrate their successes.

Each group:

  • Meets weekly, every other week or monthly
  • Lasts 90 minutes
  • Is confidential
  • Does not recommend or endorse any medications or medical therapies

This support group model encourages full group participation and creates upbeat and constructive meetings. Program leaders have found the model easy to use because it successfully manages many problematic situations that often undermine the effectiveness of support groups.

The NAMI Connection 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. The model allows leaders to address many of the difficult questions that arise in a support group, including the following:

  • How do you guarantee that the meeting will start and stop on time?
  • How do you respond to disrespectful group members?
  • What’s the best way to deal with “hot potatoes”/difficult subjects?
  • What do you do when someone monopolizes the group’s time?
  • How do you help a group do its own work and not look for direction at every turn?

NAMI Connection groups are led by a team of program leaders who make mental health and wellness a priority in their daily lives. The program leaders offer encouragement and help the group gain insight from hearing the challenges and successes of others. Program leaders are trained to guide participants, not to instruct or provide therapy.

Participants can share as much or as little personal information as they want. NAMI Connection groups add to, but do not replace, treatment plans created by individuals and their mental health care providers.

NAMI Conexión was launched in 2010. All reference to NAMI Connection Recovery Support Group includes NAMI Conexión, unless noted otherwise.

Goals of the support group

  • See the individual first, not the condition
  • Understand that mental health conditions are traumatic events
  • Aim for better coping skills
  • Find strength in sharing experiences
  • Not judge anyone’s pain
  • Provide a safe place for participants to share resources and experiences
  • Establish a sense of community
  • Encourage empathy among participants
  • Promote productive discussion so participants leave feeling better than when they came

Who can participate

NAMI Connection Recovery Support Groups welcome any adult (18+) with a mental health condition.

Who can lead a group

Any adult with a mental health condition who makes mental health and wellness a priority in their daily life can apply to become a NAMI Connection program leader. All potential program leaders are interviewed and screened to determine whether the opportunity is a good fit for the person and for the organization. Program leaders attend an intensive peer-led training to become certified and must be members of NAMI. All certified program leaders should commit to a minimum of one year of service with a co-leader.

Requirements of a NAMI Connection Support Group Facilitator:

  • Must be an individual with a mental health diagnosis who identifies themselves in recovery
  • Willingness to undergo 2-day NAMI Connection Support Group model training
  • Maintaining fidelity of the NAMI Connection 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

After being trained in the NAMI Connection model, graduates may lead the following groups if they identify as part of the target demographic:

  • NAMI Connection Recovery Support Group
  • Peer Wellness & Recovery Support Group
  • Black Minds Matter Support Group
  • LGBTQ+ Support Group
  • Morning Check-in Group
  • Night Owl Open Discussion Group
  • Off Campus College Student Group
  • Regaining Our Sense of Self Group
  • Veteran’s Support Group
  • Women’s Support Group
  • Youth Support Group

More details about the training, held online on Zoom on December 5th and 6th, will be provided at the interview. You will receive a call within 48 hours after you complete the application process.

Please download and submit via e-mail with any questions to Nick at Choose your format:

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