Support groups can provide much-needed emotion support for men and couples dealing with erectile dysfunction.
People who are dealing with erectile dysfunction often feel isolated. Despite the fact the ED is a medical condition, most people are not comfortable discussing it1.
Support groups can be a great way to overcome the sense of isolation, to see firsthand that others face the same issues, and to exchange ideas and experiences.
Unfortunately, there are few support groups for erectile dysfunction. What’s the solution? Start one!
Here are some proven ideas to help you get started:
- Find a partner to work with you on launching the group. It’s very difficult to stay motivated when you are doing everything yourself, but with a partner to share the load and exchange ideas, starting a new group can actually be fun.
- Look for a sponsor. Contact local relationship counselors and doctors to see if any of them would be willing to sanction and support your group. (You can print out and share this information in order to show them that you have a plan!)
- Determine your meeting format. Most groups meet monthly, on weekday evenings. Meetings typically last 60-90 minutes. Consider providing water, coffee, and light snacks such as cookies or cheese and crackers.
- Find a location. If your group has a sponsor, they may be able to provide a room for the meeting. Otherwise, here are some options to investigate:
- Homeowners or condo associations sometime have meeting rooms available for free or for a nominal fee.
- Some towns and universities have meeting rooms available.
- Restaurants and hotels may be willing to provide a meeting room, if you are willing to purchase refreshments through them.
- Line up publicity in advance. Local doctors or counselor may be willing to post announcements in their waiting areas. Local newspapers will often publish meeting announcements. You can also publicize your group using online services like meetup.com
- Choose a moderator to lead your meetings. In any group, some people will tend to monopolize the conversation, while others will need to be drawn out. A moderator can help to get everyone involved in a balanced way.
- Have a fixed number of meetings. Ongoing meetings usually peter out over time. People are more likely to remain committed for a fixed period of time (for example, six monthly meetings). If your group is successful, you can continue the series with a new group of attendees. “Graduates” of your group may be willing to help run subsequent sessions.
- Establish an agenda and goals. The first meeting will usually focus on airing issues; subsequent meetings may focus on discussing ideas to overcome the issues.
- Give homework! Ask members to research solutions to problems, to try new communication techniques, or explore different forms of intimacy. This will keep members engaged, and help them to make progress.
- Set up an e-mail list to communicate with group members. Be sure you don’t share the list, or send “spam” to your members.
- Invite guest speakers. Doctors or therapists may provide new insights and useful information for your group. Keep presentations short and allow plenty of time for discussion.
- Consider charging a fee. Unless your group is entirely sponsored, you’ll need some funds to pay for refreshments, renting space, printing flyers or posters, and other miscellaneous expenses. Rather than collecting “cash at the door,” consider having members pay an upfront fee for the entire series of meetings.
If you start a local support group, or find an existing group, please use our Contact Form to tell us about it. We’d be happy to list your group and publish meeting information on our site.