The power of this group was the commonality of cancer and their age. There were similar experiences with treatment, feelings and fears throughout each session, successfully showing that a closed short commitment support group is an effective way to provide a positive intervention for young adults with cancer. For a setting like MGH where there are a lot of additional multidisciplinary supports as well as an abundance of social work individual counseling, a closed group is a great option. It seemed like an appropriate commitment for young adults. By adding the initial intake, it provided more of a connection to the facilitator and the group atmosphere while ensuring commitment. It would also be beneficial to have a written survey that they could share experiences not willing to share through verbal conununication. The survey could serve as a foundation of research. It could also be used to get them used to filling out a survey at each session so their voices are heard for evaluation. Explaining that their input is important in structuring the group as well as education professionals on the needs of young adults with cancer. This gives them a sense of ptupose and a way to give back from their experience.
A key component to add would be to incorporate an evaluation. Implementing a written format that is effective would provide the facilitator a foundation for improvement from session to session as well as empower the young adults with a purpose of helping both themselves and others. In addition, this pilot highlighted the need for more in-depth coverage of topics; thus, it would be recommended to have more time and less themes.
Some considerations that might develop from this pilot:
- • Ongoing short-term young adult groups that focus on condensed themes. It gives the young adults the option to go to sessions that are most relevant to them.
- • Provide a short evaluation to be able to improve on sessions. It also gives the young adults pride in helping others (both other cancer survivors and clinicians).
- • Have each session be longer than an hour and a half. Lots of discussion occurs, especially when there is an activity prior to the discussion.
- • When social workers refer their patients, ask what they feel the most relevant needs/themes should be addressed in order to provide the most effective sessions.
- • Incorporate group feedback to the sessions.
- • Consider follow-up half-day sessions on popular topics. For example, conference for young adults on fertility, relationships or self-image. Providing a follow-up to a closed group ensures the continued community once the sessions are complete.
- • Since the initial group years ago, young adult’s dependence on social media has vastly increased. Incorporating a closed social media to provide updates and encourage the community feel within the young adult’s participants.
- • Biing in new social work clinicians—this is the most productive way to gain experience as a group facilitator. It allows for a manageable transition and experience for new clinicians.
- • A closed group is very appealing to young adults since they have so much going on. The interventions will reach more young adults since it’s less of a commitment.
- • Facilitating a group is a really beneficial for interns to learn about the themes and issues for young adults with cancer. A great learning setting for interns from all disciplines.
- • Think of the group as community building for them, creating a connecting support in their lives within group as well as outside of group.
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