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by Nancy B. Smith

(This is a very helpful article on Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) and Fibromyalgia (FM) support groups and how they can meet the needs of patients and their families. Anyone in a support group, looking for a group, or support group leaders will benefit from reading Nancy's thoughtful article.Ed.)

There are many reasons support groups exist. They also have different styles and formats.

Support groups exist so that people can reach out to each other and not feel so isolated. They are there to exchange medical and support information, and to keep patients active and encouraged.

What many patients have not had is the luxury of thinking about the purpose, for­mat and leadership style of the group, and whether these factors are suited to them.

Many leaders are gradually recruited into the role or inherit the role from a previous leader. They too, have to ask themselves important questions to help the group thrive and to thrive themselves.