Debriefing is and allows you to re-visit what has occurred in the support group and as a group facilitator, it is a critical part of the process. Although you may believe that you are unaffected by the discussion and that your emotions are stable, over time, you can start to experience what is known as secondary trauma or compassion fatigue. This can occur from hearing about first-hand trauma experiences of your group members. It could make you as the facilitator feel emotionally drained.
As a support group facilitator we’re often worried about the emotions of people within the group, but many times, and I think after each meeting we need to think about our own emotions.
Without Warning Group Leader
Having Alzheimer's disease or any other dementia can be difficult for individuals who have been diagnosed and their families. As facilitators, it is expected for you to be empathetic, understanding, and emotionally/mentally giving within the group setting, while in control of your emotions and responsiveness to the participants of the group. That can be a juggling act within itself.
After every monthly Without Warning meeting, we as facilitators come together, share the leftover snacks from the coffee hour, and discuss what has occurred within all the groups. During the debriefing, it is the time to share what you did well as a facilitator, how you handled the problematic conversations or things you want to do differently. It is also essential to incorporate how each topic made you feel as a facilitator. Sharing those thoughts allows you to ‘mentally exhale,' or release those emotions that could quickly be repressed. It is important to note that this is not the time to gossip about members in the group but to hold a conversation that revolves around you as a facilitator concerning your actions and emotions.
If you are in a setting where you are the only facilitator, it is still essential for you to debrief. One way to do this is by journaling your thoughts without including any personal information for the sake of confidentiality. Here are some critical questions to consider:
Was there anything stated in the group that you found emotionally distressing?
How did you allow the conversation to flow? Is there anything you would do differently?
Is there anyone in your group that would benefit from outside support?
What did you enjoy most about today’s group?