“people using their own experiences to help each other”. Somehow, being in a group of people who have gone through, or are going through, something similar to you can be comforting. Additionally, peer support sessions are places to share resources, knowledge and experience, as well as emotional and practical support for common challenges and difficulties, as well as encouragement and motivation when things are going well. A common theme around eating disorders is the shame, judgement and social misconception that often surrounds them. Talking to people in a non-judgemental setting who “get it” can really help to decrease these feelings. Another benefit of engaging with a peer support network is the increase in social connectedness, especially as eating disorders can lead to feelings of isolation, both for those struggling with them personally and for those supporting loved ones.
We run two fortnightly peer support groups – one for people affected personally, and another for family, friends and loved ones. Our peer support groups are always moderated by a member of our Talk ED team, providing consistency, expertise and gentle guidance.
What happens in a typical session?
Sessions take place online via Zoom. A Talk ED team member will introduce themselves and how the session will run that day.
Attendees are invited to check in and share how they are doing and what challenges or successes have taken place recently. The conversation may unfold from here and everyone is welcome to share their experiences and resources. Attendees are also invited to ask questions to the group or to the moderator, who will have first hand experience with eating disorder recovery personally, or with a loved one. Sometimes the moderator may ask questions to the group or propose a subject to talk about.
Do I have to share my whole story?
You are welcome to share as much as you feel comfortable with – sharing your personal experience as well as listening to others can be a really important part of the eating disorder recovery process. However we know how hard this can be, so there is no pressure – some attendees prefer to listen to others rather than open up about their personal situation and that is absolutely fine.
Do I or my loved one have to have a formal diagnosis to attend?
No, we support anyone affected by any eating disorder or eating distress. This means that you or your loved one do not need any qualifying factor to attend these sessions.
What are attendees saying about the sessions?
Here are some comments received from people who have attended the groups:
“Coming to these sessions helps to motivate me. It’s so nice to have found a safe space with people I can connect with.”
“I’m going away with ideas on how to cope with challenging situations. “It’s so nice to know that I’m not on my own.””
“Until I came to this group, I didn’t realise how important it was for my recovery to meet with others going through something similar”.
“Hearing about others making changes is so inspiring and it makes me want to make more positive changes so that I can come back here and share it with you all.”
“I take comfort knowing that I’m not alone in all this. I always come away from these sessions with a bit more hope.”
“I’ve found that people sharing resources about how best to inform myself about my daughter’s illness has been incredibly helpful.”
“When my daughter came out of in-patient care, we found a very obvious lack of support for the family in how best to transition to her care back at home. Support groups like these are really vital in supporting families and are a lifeline to me.”
For more information, and to book your place: Talk ED peer support groups