Support systems are a crucial part of getting through difficult trials in our lives. Divorce is no exception to this rule, and it can be a great time to refine the relationships in your life or cultivate new ones. Therefore, if you find a sympathetic ear to listen to your marital woes, it will encourage you to keep looking toward the bright future you could have after you have successfully emerged from your divorce.

By providing a productive outlet for your frustrations and feelings, a support system can improve your emotional health, provide advice for complicated situations, and make your whole process smoother and less stressful.

Where can you go to find the types of relationships that will benefit you during the divorce process? If need more help than a coffee date with a close friend can provide, a support group may be the right choice. There are several different types of support groups, including self-help, religious, therapeutic, and online. In this guide to the basic types of divorce support groups, you can learn more about what you might gain from one of these groups.

Self-help

A self-help group usually has no particular religious affiliation, and is typically run by someone without any type of professional background in psychology or counseling. Meetings are monitored and organized by the individuals in attendance. Many popular self-help groups can be found on Meetup. They offer a wide variety of locations and times that are dependent on your area, where you can meet with others in similar predicaments.

Regular meetings are typically scheduled, but they do not require membership or regular attendance in order to participate. Each session is typically open to anyone, which makes attendance simpler than the groups where you may have to register. The ease of attendance can sometimes make for a very large group.

The size of a self-help group could be a large deciding factor about whether or not this type of support system will be a good fit for you. A self-help group with many different members can result in loud meetings with less time to share your feelings. On the other hand, hearing the points of view of many different people can give you more insight and support from others who share during their time together.

Religious

A religious support group is similar to a self-help group, but it has the added aspect of examining your situation from a faith-based perspective. It may be facilitated by a professional within the religion, such as a pastor or clergyman. However, it may also be run by a nonprofessional, which will make it seem more like a self-help group. The main advantage of a religious support group is that it can unite you with others who view things from a similar perspective.

A popular option in the religious category is the DivorceCare program. This group dynamic is structured around a short video presentation, followed by a discussion of the topic. The program also has a popular offshoot called DivorceCare for Kids, which is designed to help children work through their parents’ divorces.

Therapeutic

Therapeutic groups are often sponsored by a professional within the mental health field, which could be a counselor, therapist, psychologist, or another trained individual. Oftentimes, these groups run for a set period of time and adhere to a specific curriculum for teaching new skills. For instance, they allow you to learn how to cope with circumstances and adjust your thoughts to better manage the entire divorce process.

Because they tend to offer a greater degree of structure and a set attendance requirement, therapeutic groups are great for anyone who does not want to make a long-term commitment. You may benefit from a short-term support group that focuses on a specific goal while under the care of a professional (compared to the more open, fluid nature of a self-help group).

Online

With an increase in message boards such as Reddit Divorce, online support groups are an extremely popular way of garnering emotional support during your divorce. Any time you need support, advice, or encouragement, they are easily accessible 24/7. This flexibility makes this option more appealing, particularly for individuals who have children or work long hours. In addition, it may be beneficial for anyone who needs more support than a weekly meeting is able to provide, since you can reach out to other people any time.

However, online support groups should be used with caution. Be careful not to provide any unique, identifying information about you, your spouse, or your children that could potentially be traced back to you. Keep an eye out for groups that offer specific guidance and cater to more specialized areas, such as child support, custody battles, and irreconcilable differences.

Selecting the Right Support Group

Before you make a commitment to a particular support group, you will want to consider which program is the best fit for you. The location and timing of the group will play one of the biggest roles. Is it going to be convenient for you to attend meetings on a regular basis, or will it feel like more of a hassle to drive two towns over after a long day’s work?

From there, you can consider whether you like the content of the group itself. The structure can drastically vary from group to group, making it one of the largest considerations that potential attendees will need to examine. You may prefer a more structured group with specific criteria, questions, and guidelines, as well as a specific start and end time. Others may like the more fluid nature of a group formed around shared experiences—with no set timeline about the number of weeks required.

Even size can determine whether a particular group is the right fit for you. Extroverts may favor the largest possible crowd, while others may be searching for a more intimate setting. A divorce support group can take on almost any form that you may be searching for. Be sure to seek out what social supports are available in your area, so you can reap the benefits of shared experiences with others who are going through the same process as you.