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Copyright © 1998 Head Injury Hotline
Personal Safety Net
From The Ashes:
A Brain Injury Survivor's Guide

Building A Support System Of Peers
    The most useful members of your support system will be individuals who share the same problems you experience. Local 
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chapters of the Brain Injury Association sponsor support groups in many cities. In addition, support groups are provided by medical and rehabilitation centers that provide services for their brain injury clients. Many brain injury survivor groups have been established in recent years. They address a variety of issues and welcome new members. Many such organizations are listed in the Directory of Associations available in your local library. 

    Support groups attract brain injury survivors and their families who are seeking others with similar problems. Such groups periodically invite family members, and professionals to discuss and exchange feelings, experiences, and strategies for coping with the effects of traumatic brain injury. The group members provide support and friendship for one another. 

     The awareness that you share a common experience with others can provide essential reassurance and comfort. Support groups provide an opportunity to discuss similar problems and work out effective solutions. Support groups have proven to be very important adjuncts to successful self-management of brain injury impairments. 

     Your efforts toward self-management of the impairments caused by your head injury will be greatly aided by recruiting a support network of family and friends. The individuals on your support team should understand your problem, trust you to look after yourself, and stand ready to help you when, and if, the need arises. Likewise, you must be sensitive to their needs and problems too and help out where you can. 

Building A Support Network Of Family And Friends

     It is absolutely essential to the success of your efforts, to have a support network made up of people who share your belief in what you are doing. Unconditional, positive, loving, and continuing support from family members and close friends is invaluable. You must assist them in their support of you by providing up-to-date, rigorous, factual information. You must also be sensitive to their needs.

     The care and feeding of your support network is a frequently overlooked task of self-management. From time to time, the composition of your network will change. Such changes take place for any number of reasons including: lack of interest, incompatibility, conflicting commitments, and burn-out. You should be mindful of such facts and take steps to replace them as needed.

     Carefully identify the roles and activities of candidates for positions on your network. Choose individuals for each role who possess special training, interest or experience in the things you want them to do. Establish time lines regarding length of commitment and build flexibility into scheduling, always incorporate contingency plans into your plans. 

     The following Social Support Update and Network form will prepare you to identify your needs for social and personal support. The Recruitment, and volunteer Task form can be circulated among family and friends to help you identify tasks and recruit volunteers. 

    Once you know how much assistance you can count on from your family and friends; the next step would be to identify and fill gaps in your support network. You might want to look to religious, fraternal, social, employee and professional organizations to fill such gaps. Social Service and human resouces agencies can often provide other sources of help. The form below will help you design your Personal Safetynet

Personal Support Network
Safety Net Team Member  Phone Number 
1.  Identify individuals who you were able to talk to about things that were very personal and private.     
2. Identify individuals who you were able to depend on to lend or give you $50 or more if you needed it?     
3. Identify individuals from whom you were able to get important personal and/or business advice?     
4. Identify individuals who let you know they liked your ideas or things you do.     
5. Identify individuals who used their time and energy to help you take care of something that you needed to do, personal helpers - like driving you someplace, helping you with some work around the house, going to the store for you, things like that.     
6. Identify individuals with whom you were able to get together with to have fun or to relax.     
7. Identify three instances in which your needs for social support have gone unmet during the past year?     
8. Identify three instances in which your needs for social support have been well met during the past year?    
9. Identify individuals with whom you have had unpleasant disagreements with whom you depend on for help, or have felt angry or upset with them.    
10. Identify individuals with whom you have been satisfied with the balance of giving and receiving in your relationships this past year.     
11. Identify individuals with whom you have been dissatisfied with the balance of giving and receiving in your relationships this past year.     

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Copyright © 1998 Head Injury Hotline