Women’s Services provides new support groups for community

By Gus Bode

Five groups scheduled for fall to help people deal with loss, relationships, non-traditional students and self-esteem

Parents who have a gay or lesbian son or daughter will soon have the opportunity to share their challenges, concerns and joys with other parents in the same situation through a support group offered by Women’s Services.

The gay and lesbian support group, as well as several other support groups, will be open to students, staff, faculty and community members who are going through difficult transitions in life.


Other groups will cover issues such as grief and loss, self-esteem improvement, relationships and non-traditional students.

Jane Maxwell, the Women’s Services program and outreach program coordinator, said the groups are a way to provide people a place for support and a way to get information about their concerns.

“We are here for support, not therapy,” Maxwell said.

The groups will begin when three to four participants have signed up for the group. Maxwell said that she hopes the groups start by mid-October.

Maxwell is facilitating a Women’s Non-traditional Support group on Tuesdays from 3 to 4:30 and a Self-Esteem Improvement group on Thursdays from 1 to 3:00 p.m.

The Women’s non-traditional support group allows older students, returning students or parents to talk with other students in a similar non-traditional situation.

“We want to pull together people who have similar concerns to get support from each other as a process to overcome their difficulties,” Maxwell said.


The self-esteem improvement group is a way for people with low self-esteem to build their self image and receive support from others dealing with low self-esteem.

“As a facilitator for this program I have the responsibility to pull out the positive aspects of a person so they can see good things about themselves,” Maxwell said.

Joyce Kramer, a graduate student at the Rehabilitation Institute, will lead the gay and lesbian parent group. The group is open to parents who want to share experiences gay and lesbian parents face when dealing with day-to-day issues such as schools, day care, doctors and hospitals on Wednesdays from noon to 1 p.m. every other week.

Jennifer Harris-Forbes, a graduate assistant in Women’s Services, will facilitate a grieving and loss support group on Wednesdays from 1 to 2:30 p.m. and a relationship group on Mondays from 3 to 4:30 p.m.

Harris-Forbes said the grieving and loss support group will help to offer support for anyone who has recently experienced a loss, such as death of a loved one or loss of a relationship.

The relationship group will help people who are having mixed feelings with relationships or need a safe place to discuss relationship issues.

People wanting to participate in the groups have to go through a screening process to join a particular group. The individual interested in a group must fill out a form about what brings them to the group and any concerns they have about the group.

“We want to provide an atmosphere of support so we need to understand what is going on with a person and if they are right for the group,” Maxwell said.

While some of the groups have been offered for several semesters, the women’s traditional support group, as well as the gay and lesbian parent support group, is a new group offered because of a shift in popularity and visibility of issues.

Maxwell said that she hopes the groups offered will be a valuable resource to members of both the SIU and Carbondale community.

“The real healing aspect of these groups is letting the people know they are not the only one going through this,” Maxwell said. “People feel stronger knowing there are more people out there sharing similar experiences.”

Reporter Kristina Dailing can be reached at [email protected]