Virtual Support Groups

The Eating Disorder Resource and Support Centre organizes support groups for individuals interested in having a space to discuss their experiences with eating disorders and disordered eating, as well as to hear about the experience of others. It’s important to note that this is not a therapeutic service, and is therefore not the equivalent of a therapy group. It is not run by licensed professionals, and does not provide participants with skills or advice. Our support groups serve as a space for discussion and sharing. 

Email support-eating-disorders@ssmu.ca if you have any questions! 

☆ Groups are scheduled based on the time availability of participants, and run at the same time every week

☆ Groups meet for two hours per session, with a 15-minute break halfway through

☆ If there are few participants and conversation weans early on, groups can end the session earlier than scheduled

support group guidelines

Our mandate means that 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 labellings 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 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.

facilitators

Groups are facilitated by two trained volunteers. These volunteers have received extensive training in active listening, anti-oppression, trauma, and eating disorders and disordered eating. They are present in order to facilitate conversation.