Evaluation of a bereaved parent support program

Self help groups are fast becoming a major source of support for individuals as they struggle to overcome life's major crises. It has been estimated that self help groups currently serve over fifteen million (15,000,000) people in the United . States (Toseland and Hacker, 1982). The self help movement at best, puts the center of control on the members and provides a positive system of mutual support. At its worst, it promotes a continued dependency of its members, preventing any progress toward readjustment. There exists a growing need for more effectively led mutual support systems. While professionals can be helpful in this regard, many groups are resistant to professional involvement. Group members view the professional as a threat to independence and personal control. This thesis examines one method of providing professional guidance to a self help group of bereaved parents. The meetings are led entirely by audio cassette tapes. A master tape is used to teach communication skills. A specializing tape presents various issues of concern common to the group. With the use of audiocassette tapes, the professional is able to share his expertise and avoid the negative effects of direct professional involvement. This indirect involvement provides a way to aid in the development of more effective and stable mutual support systems.