Co-Facilitator, Cindy Janik, discusses the therapeutic and positive benefits of participating in Advocates Brain Injury Survivor Support Group.
After an accident left Alan with a traumatic brain injury, he struggled with anxiety, isolation, and cognitive challenges. Alan needed a place to find solace and a sense of community, so his therapist recommended a support group.
Alan joined Advocates' Brain Injury Survivor Support Group, which I have the privilege of facilitating twice a month, so that he could meet people who were going through similar challenges. Alan, along with 15 survivors and some of their family members, meet to share what’s on their mind, vent about what’s bothering them, and offer gratitude for living and life. The group brings together old friends and new looking for a community of support.
There can be a lot of heavy and tough discussions, which is why we try to laugh as much as we can and celebrate positivity. My co-facilitator, Shaun Grady--a brain injury survivor himself--and I will sometimes come to the meetings with an agenda, but more often the group drives the conversation. Some days we’ll explore issues such as accessibility in the community, social isolation, and coping, and more times than not, we’ll simply laugh and share stories as friends. While each brain injury is unique, the similarities in survivors’ experiences is remarkable, and thus bonds them together.
Shaun says that his favorite part of the support group is that he “looks forward to everybody sharing what is going on with them [and] hearing that people are positive, always seeing the silver lining.” “Looking at the bright side”, seeing “the glass half full” is an overarching theme in our group.
Alan says that the support group is like a second home and family to him. He values the sense of belongingness and the opportunities to make new friends. Alan has been attending the group for almost a year and only has one complaint: "I wish there were more than two meetings per month!"
In addition to our regular meetings, the group plans four fun outings per year that are scheduled outside of our normal meeting times. Last year we enjoyed a cruise around Boston Harbor and spent a relaxing afternoon at George’s Island (Alan's favorite), went bowling, took in a movie, and explored the galleries of the Museum of Fine Arts.
Advocates' Brain Injury Survivor Support Group is offered in partnership with the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts. We meet at 3:00 pm on the first and third Tuesday of each month at the SLI Wellness Center in downtown Lexington. If you or someone you know would benefit from our free support group, we invite you to join us or pass along our information. To learn more or to RSVP, please contact me at CJanik@Advocates.org or at (781) 862-0070 x 302.