Benefits of Herpes Support Group

Benefits of joining a Herpes Support Group – run by a therapist at Sex Therapy in Philadelphia

So you just learned that you are living with the herpes simplex virus and you are trying to figure out what to do? Consider joining a herpes support group.  Developing a support network is key.  You don’t have to go through this alone. Help is available.

The initial discovery of having contracted the herpes virus can be overwhelming, scary, confusing, and so many other descriptive words. While there are many different ways to react to finding out you have herpes, it’s common to feel alone, angry, and ashamed.

There are many common first steps to take when receiving this news: talking to your doctor or a healthcare professional, disclosing to your lover or a friend, as well as reading self-help books. These are all common responses to dealing with a herpes diagnosis. If you’re reading this article on the benefits of a herpes support group, you are probably still struggling with feeling isolated and alone.

The most common reasons for people to join a herpes support group include:

  • To express fears, guilt, shame, embarrassment, anger, frustration, sadness and anxiety.
  • Build confident.
  • To answer the simple questions: “Will I ever have sex again? Can sex ever be carefree? Even if I can find a partner willing to have sex with me, will I ever be able to let go of the fear that I might infect my partner? And if I do infect my partner, how can I live with the guilt?”
  • To Find a way to break the isolation.
  • To meet others who have experienced similar situations living with the herpes virus, and learn from their stories, as well as share your own.
  • To develop strategies for dating or being in a long term relationship.
  • To know that you are not alone, and not the only one living with herpes.
  • To make friends, develop a support system.
  • To learn effective coping skills to balance life while managing a virus.
  • To share the emotional impact of living with herpes with others that can empathize and relate.
  • Most importantly, many individuals looking for a herpes support group are looking for hope. Hope for  a happy future, potential love, sex, dating, etc.

While there is one commonality between group members, everyone is different; a support group provides the opportunity to share and receive various perspectives on the daily aspects of living with the virus. A support group provides a safe and structured place for individuals to share their stories, connect, and gain support from others who can relate to living with the virus. Everyone has their own unique and individual needs, some people may prefer being in the giving role as a support group member, while others may prefer the receiving role. For some people just knowing there’s a group like this that exits is enough. A support group provides the opportunity to share daily aspects of living with the virus.

Support group participants are what truly make a support group what it is; without the honest feedback, emotional support, and questions/comments from the members, the group is not as beneficial or interesting. However, the facilitator provides the structure to help ensure the group continues to move onto other topics, and allows all members to share their thoughts. An added benefit to a support group facilitator is to provide accurate information, correcting and addressing any misinformation brought into the group. Each support group session allows members to recap on the previous session, check-in on certain problems or struggles, and to address a new aspect of living with herpes each session. From exploring issues with disclosure, to recognizing your complicated feelings about becoming  a person who is now living with herpes, to incorporating your new set of circumstances into your sense of self to addressing your anger about contracting herpes, to relocating your confidence to date again post-diagnosis, are just a few of the topics to be discussed. Other core/important issues that get addressed include medical knowledge of the disease and current treatment, sexual techniques, self-esteem/confidence, and your new new vision of your future. As a hint: if you’re looking for a local herpes support group in your area, depending on what your particular issues are, you may want to ask about how the above issues are addressed.

A herpes support group in Philadelphia gives you a safe place to explore your thoughts, ideas, and emotions around contracting the virus. This is a place to share your experiences, hopes, and fears about living with herpes. Support groups are confidential, just like you have in a doctor’s office, or in individual therapy; support groups allow you to express yourself in a safe and secure space. This is a place where sharing experiences about herpes and fears are encouraged. The consistency and regularity of a support group is a nurturing environment that helps hold yourself accountable as you make sense of your diagnosis.