Self-help groups provide that opportunity. Participants share common experiences and meet people who not only have experienced the same kind of suffering, but are also finding ways to master their problems. Members of the group may be a different stages of a life crisis: a woman who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer may be in the same group as a woman who underwent a mastectomy several years earlier. "They meet people who have been struggling with the same problem they are struggling with and find that these people are beginning to master it," says Dr. Leon Levy, chairman of psychology at the University of Maryland at Baltimore County. "They can see that there is hope for them."
Some people argue that inexperienced help-providers, no matter how well-meaning, might inadvertently do more harm than good. "The problem is that it's very difficult to generalize from one self-help group to another, even within the same organization," says the University of Maryland's Levy. At the same time, the scientific literature contains no reports of self-help groups causing any damage to participants."That was a concern at one time, however, when self-help groups began to become quite popular," says Levy.
ILLUSTRATION; ILLUSTRATION,,Tim Grajek For Twp; PHOTO,,Wayne Partlow CAPTION: [Peggy Eastman], founder of a group to cope with grief, originally sought a self-help group after her husband's 1985 death in an airplane crash.
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