January 9, 2014

Feedback from SHGs

We did a rapid consultation with four SHGs. We spoke both to participants and the organizers. We are sharing the gist of the findings here, so that we as a self-help community can give our best in 2014 and beyond. Item 1-4 are from SHG coordinators and item 5 is based on feedback from SHG participants. (We have put in our editorial comments in parentheses. Ed). Read on, reflect, have fun and go to SHG this sunday...

1. What has motivated you?

All the organizers were motivated by one or more of these facts:
1.  They had been through the long futile search for that “best therapy” which will cure them once for all, in a few weeks. They had understood that consistently working on communication skills in a social setting is the way forward for them.

2.  They could empathize with other pws, their inner suffering and sincerely wanted to serve them.
3. SHG, for the first time, offered them a place where they felt free, accepted and relaxed; where stammering was not a stigma.
4. SHG has increased their overall confidence as good, effective human beings.

2. How does SHG benefit?

1) The biggest issue we face is NOT stammering - it is lack of communication and lack of understanding of the nuances of stuttering. SHG plays a very big role in addressing these very roots of all suffering and ignorance.
2) Feeling isolated /Alone : In the world of SHG, lot of emotional baggage is lost as we find similar people and accept that we are normal too and not aliens. This brings a sense of inner peacefulness and satisfaction with ourselves, no matter how we speak.
3) Sometimes someone who can listen to us, not with sympathy but with total understanding is what we need and there is no better place than SHG to find such true friends.
3) Inspiration & confidence - I can do it too..
We have limited understanding that stutterer is not meant for this job or that job.
In SHG you will find fellow stutters courageously facing the world and doing everything despite all odds. Therefore the mindset that stuttering is a handicap is removed effortlessly.
4) Many activities (like going out to station and buying ticket in a group) are helping us (the organisers) too.

3. Expectation from the participants?

1) Please come for sometime – at least three months at a stretch!! Dont wait for organiser's phone call or SMS. Time and venue are always posted on blog and FB in advance. Consistent and dedicated participation in SHG activities is important to derive ANY benefit at all.

2) Please communicate freely: if you cant come, feel free to say so. If you commit, then please try and come. Please do answer our SMS or call which are used sometimes before the meeting.

3) Please manage your time wisely through the week, so that you can spare just two hours on the weekend for SHG – in your own larger interest and also to ensure that others too benefit from your presence and your inputs. Give and take is the foundation of life.

4) Have FAITH that SHG can help you.
5)   Help fellow pws in all possible ways:
Dont interrupt
Maintain eye contact
Dont take up their allotted time by telling long personal stories or non-relevant things.
Give them positive feedback, whenever possible.
Listen to them attentively.
NEVER give unasked advice or feedback.
6)      Follow the instructions for the session, be serious about what technique we use in the meeting as per Agenda and be patient to follow those techniques, at least in the meeting. At other times, you are fee to use your own technique or speech goals. Bring a diary and pen, if requested.
7)      Don't become dependent on participation of a particular senior member. Every host has different approach; you can get different good things from different hosts. Come and participate without bothering about who else is there or not there.

4. How to improve?
1.  We should follow some structure and agenda in the meetings; responsibility to conduct a session should be rotated. We can create a SHG group on Facebook by which who wants to host the meeting can give notification  OR you can leave a comment under the blog post stating that you would like to facilitate it. After that, you MUST closely work with the organizer/ Coordinator to plan and rehearse the proposed meeting in ADVANCE. Please don’t come unprepared, to conduct a session.
2.  We can also have a Toast masters kind of meeting, lasting 4-5 hours, once in two months or so. Participants should contribute a little fee for this.
3.   We can organize one fun-day meeting in which we can go to any malls or any place in our city and there we can have fun like party, movie etc. once in 2 month or so.
4.   SHGs should innovate, develop a plan and stick to it. Like this. (SHGs are free to develop their own roadmap under the overall mandate of self-help. Ed).
5.   Invite your friends and family members too, to SHG. This will solve some of your problems back home.
6.   If you benefit by SHG, recruit and invite new pws to the SHG, so that good group dynamics unfolds and new pws also benefit.
5. Participants' feedback
1.                  Some new innovative exercises should be offered in every session. (But let us remember: to master ANY technique, you must repeat it many many times, even for months, in a recommended order and in a hierarchy of situations. Ed).
2.                  We need some time for one to one counseling too. (It can be difficult in a 2 hour session but this can happen on phone/ skype during the week etc ed.)
3.                  How do we know we are progressing? (TISA has many members who will confirm that regular participation in SHG benefits. But since stammering is very situational and variable- it will be meaningless for anyone or TISA to assess and certify your improvement; It is you, who is the best judge to answer - are you more comfortable with yourself generally, and specifically while talking in a group or with strangers? Journal writing too is a good way of tracking your progress in the long run. ed.)
4.                  I am not able to attend regularly.  Need flexible timings. (What benefits people in a SHG is the group dynamics; their ability to make presentation in presence of a GROUP of people. If we are not able to get together in a number of ten to fifteen people, once a week, we not only forego our own benefits, we also rob other participants of their benefits resulting from this group dynamics. Therefore SHGs can accommodate individual needs only to a limited extent unfortunately. On the other hand, if timings are a big constraint, you can attend online SHG, whenever you miss the physical SHG. But the onus to help yourself in a CONSISTENT manner rests with YOU alone. ed.)
Last thought from Editors: SHG is primarily a venue to pick up and practice PRACTICAL skills (communication) in social situations – much more than picking up INFORMATION about stammering. For information, internet is a more effective resource. Learning one technique and mastering it under different challenging situations in and outside SHG is much more useful than learning theory of a new technique every week and using it casually. Finally it is your SHG. You can improve it thru participation. Go for it.
Happy new year!
(Mani and Sachin)


Anupinder Singh said...

This Compilation is best, very handy & Motivation too. Thanks Manimaran Sir and Sachin Sir.

Amit Dixshit said...

Very nice post..