The Eating Disorder Centre of SSMU organizes virtual support groups for individuals interested in having a space to share and discuss their experiences with eating disorders, disordered eating, body image, and other related issues (though it is not limited solely to these topics!).
☆ Groups are scheduled based on the availability of participants, and occur at the same time every week.
☆ Groups generally meet for two hours per session, with a 15-minute break halfway through. However, the duration is dependent on the interest and participation of users, as well as the needs of the group.
☆ Groups are facilitated by two volunteers trained in harm reduction, active listening, and trauma informed, and anti-oppressive care practices.
Please note that this is not a therapeutic service, and is not the equivalent of a therapy group. It is not run by licensed professionals, and does not provide participants with skills, advice, treatment plans, or diagnoses.☆
support group guidelines
We aim to provide our support group participants with anti-oppressive, non-directional, non-judgmental, inclusive, and confidential support. We ask that, in group settings, participants follow these guidelines:
☆ Confidentiality: Do not share any names, descriptors, personal information or topics shared in group outside of group. What is shared in group stays in group. Confidentiality is vital to the safety and comfort of this space and is upheld by all participants and facilitators.
☆ Don’t take screenshots or photos: No screenshots or photos, ever. This jeopardizes the privacy of everyone in group, and therefore the safety of the space.
☆ Respect towards all other participants: Do not use any inappropriate language or use any form of name calling. Understanding that all experiences are different and respect different opinions.
☆ Disputing and invalidating experience and feelings: Feelings are facts. Do not invalidate any user’s experience or feelings, either directly or by questioning why they feel a certain way in a manner than implies judgement.
☆ Do not mention or use numbers, weight change tricks, foods, and healthy/ unhealthy labeling of foods: Do not use any specific number, whether it is any numerical amounts for calories, weight, exercise, timeframes, or more. This space is meant to be a safe space to discuss experience with disordered eating and eating disorders. The items above may trigger and aggravate thoughts for others, and lead to comparison and competitiveness, which threatens the safety of the space.
☆ Center experience, advice and feedback on “I”: For example, :I have” or “I would”, not “you should”. Avoid using your experience in contradiction/ relationship to someone else’s as it could invalidate theirs. Focus on your experience.
☆ Content Warnings: Attempt to make trigger warnings before speaking of potentially triggering content. When group is held on zoom, facilitators will send a message when the topic discussed is closed, so that users can turn their audio back on.
☆ Acknowledging that everyone is coming from a different place: Avoid giving unsolicited advice or questioning someone’s decision, and acknowledging that what works for one person may not work for someone else. All experiences are different. All truths are valid.
☆ Asking: If you feel unsure whether or not someone wants feedback, advice, or anything, always ask.
☆ Listen without interrupting: We only use one mic. Let someone finish what they are saying before responding.
☆ No physical touch: (only applicable in person) Unrequested physical touch of any nature can be very triggering and unsafe for people, even if your intention is to be comforting.
☆ Ouch and Oops: Use ouch and oops to acknowledge when a harm happens in the space, without necessarily having a separate conversation about it. Here’s how it works: if someone says something during the meeting that feels harmful or hurtful to you, say “ouch” either verbally or in the chat. In response, the original speaker should say “oops” to acknowledge the harm. Depending on the issue, facilitators may pause to discuss it further, or may continue with whoever was speaking.
☆ There is no pressure to share: Participants are welcome to only come to group to observe and not share.
☆ Turn off or silence phones: Phones can be distracting and disrespectful to others. This space is made for all of us to connect with each other, and listen to each other.
☆ Any other norms users would like to add.