Finding Validation in Support Groups After a Brain Injury
[Dr. Herman Lukow II] A lot of survivors that have had—found their friends and their social networks disintegrate or move away from them,
that's a tough issue to handle for me.
I don't know what to say to that 27-year-old man who still has—sexuality is part of who he is, and he has this need to be social.
He's at a place in his life where he is supposed to be partnering with someone and, yet, realizes that his impulse control,
and inability to pick up and read cues—social cues—really makes that impossible.
In those cases, I work so hard to try to get those folks into support groups—either into a brain injury support group or into a clubhouse.
Because then it's there—then there's people there that understand—common experiences.
They can learn through those experiences, rather than going out and failing in
experience and setting up this pattern of failure instead of this pattern of success.
Support groups can be such a benefit because of that common experience.
Although every brain injury is unique, there are some commonalities.
Again, it gives a validation.
It gives this repository of skills that have been tried—some that have been successful—some that haven't.
It provides purpose for a person when they get to a clubhouse or many times to a group.
They may actually have a function and feel as though they're making a contribution.
So much of the time I hear from survivors they had made contributions
in the past and don't feel as though they're capable of now making any kind of contributions to their family—
to whatever profession they were in.
I think that's the biggest thing.
And that loneliness.
Just to be around other people and have that social interaction and actually see that. "Maybe I matter.
Someone knows I'm alive.
I'm important enough for them to follow my successes and failures and to rely on me for something,"
even if it's just showing up for a meeting.
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Dr. Herman Lukow talks about how support groups and club houses can help people with TBI find common ground as well as a place to learn to socialize successfully again.
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Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough, Justin Rhodes, and Lara Collins, BrainLine.
Herman Lukow, II, PhD, Herman R. Lukow II, PhD, NCC is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at VCU Medical Center. He also provides counseling and psychotherapy to individuals, couples, and families coping with the effects of brain injury.
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