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.

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.

View more videos with Herman Lukow, PhD.

Herman Lukow

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.

Posted on BrainLine September 18, 2013.

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough, Justin Rhodes, and Lara Collins, BrainLine.

Comments (2)

I have been with my partner now almost 3 and half years, I would not change him in anyway he is who he is. His brain injury happened in 2007 way before we met.
He has come so far in three years we have been together despite people saying people like him should not do certain things I do my best to encourage him.
He is my inspiration cos when I think what he goes through and usually manages to keep smiling I have to ask my self what have I got to moan about,
But it's hard for him cos the government now decided that a brain injury is no longer a disability and it's hard for him to be up beat and enjoy just being alive.
The groups that he used to attend he can not afford to go anymore, but we just have to keep plodding on sad people can see a brain injury so it does not excise

I am a LABI, a survivor. I would encourage my loved one too. People saying that "people like him should not do certain things" is disparaging and hurtful. I would hold strong, shed tears and continue to encourage him. It is true, brain injury no longer being a disability, is difficulty and is difficult staying energetic, enjoy life, and stay healthy....it leaves one scrambling for resources that are still available. Resources and Support Groups for LABI, Life after Brain Injury is scarce too. Survive, and be well friend.