By Holly Bonner
It’s normal for individuals facing vision loss to feel overwhelmed or in need of additional support. While family members may act as an initial sounding board, support groups offer a way to connect with other people who share the challenge of diminished sight.
Low Vision Specialists of Maryland and Virginia understand there are many misconceptions regarding this type of supportive service. Our goal is to help set the record straight! We’ve put together a list of 5 common questions about sight loss support groups with answers to help you make an informed decision as to whether or not you’d like to attend a meeting.
1) Is a support group the same as therapy?
A support group is NOT the same as a therapy session. In fact, many support groups are often peer-led by a lay person with vision loss. Professionals such as rehabilitation therapists, social workers, and licensed mental health counselors may also lead support groups in a variety of settings because of their connection to the low vision community and their backgrounds in mental health.
2) Are support groups confidential?
Yes! Support groups maintain a high standard of confidentiality. This means that members are free to discuss their feelings, share their experiences and offer mutual support in a safe environment.
3) Will the support group be more conversational or educational?
The answer can actually be both! Depending on how the group’s facilitator chooses to format the group, topics can include a combination of educational resources, workshops, guest speakers, product demonstrations, and conversational dialogue about vision loss.
4) If a support group isn’t therapeutic, will it still help me manage the stress or anxiety I feel about vision loss?
Absolutely! Connecting with members in the group will help diminish any feelings of isolation with regards to vision loss. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Being able to openly discuss your concerns, fears, and experiences will help you feel more reassured about maintaining an active lifestyle. As you begin to make connections with your fellow support group members and your group’s facilitator, you will begin to accept and adjust to life with low vision, lessening any feelings of stress and anxiety.
5) Is a low vision support group really worth my time?
We think so! While we understand that every individual is different, if you choose to attend a support group you can expect to learn about many important resources and services for the low vision community. The people you will meet within the group will be able to share important strategies and advice about navigating life with vision loss. You will have the opportunity to socialize, make new friends, and have a chance to support others. Support groups provide a great environment to attain motivation, feel empowered, and set goals to prepare for a hopeful future.
Now that you’ve gotten the answers you may have needed; Low Vision Specialists of Maryland and Virginia wants to invite you to our offices to attend a meeting! We are proud to sponsor the Sight-Loss Support Group of Greater Baltimore so that people with vision loss can meet in a safe and comfortable environment to:
• Share their experiences and emotions
• Make connections
• Learn coping strategies
• Discover resources
• Stay motivated
Monthly meetings take place at The Low Vision Shop, 2219 York Road, Suite 301A, in Timonium, MD 21093. Led by Diane Ducharme, a certified rehabilitation counselor, the group welcomes anyone who is blind, legally blind, or living with low vision.
Diane believes passionately that loss of sight does not mean losing your vision for a meaningful life. Through group discussions, she helps you explore:
• Living life fully as a sight-impaired person
• Finding the right words to talk about your experiences with friends and family
• Gaining satisfying employment
• Continuing to be a productive member of society
Check out our next meeting to learn how the Sight-Loss Support Group of Greater Baltimore can help you feel less isolated and more empowered in your sight-loss journey.
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