Is Online Support Effective for Persons with Psoriasis?
The physical symptoms of psoriasis are often very plain to see. What most persons cannot see are the emotional struggles someone with psoriasis faces.
The National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) lists loneliness and feelings of isolation as two of the emotional effects of psoriasis. In order to cope, many persons have begun reaching out to online support groups. But, can someone with psoriasis really benefit from being a part of one of these groups and, if so, how?
In this article, we will explore the effectiveness of online psoriasis support by taking an in-depth look at the benefits members to derive from them. Let’s kick things off, however, by examining why any kind of social support group is so vitally important to us.
The Importance of Social Interactions
“Man is by nature a social animal.” – Aristotle, Ancient Greek Philosopher
Seeking out the company of others and forming social groups are innate human traits. Social interactions serve as a means of survival. They also help us thrive by leading more satisfying and productive lives.
An August 2016 article from the National Institutes of Health explains that the quality of our social interactions helps to determine our quality of life at different stages of development. The more positive relationships we have, the better off we are emotionally, mentally, and physically.
Persons with whom we have consistent healthy interactions make up our support system. We lean on them and draw strength from them as we face life’s challenges, such as in times of crises or when coping with a chronic illness like psoriasis. We are reassured knowing that there are people who care for us, who will offer encouragement, and who will always have our backs.
Benefits of Joining a Psoriasis Support Group
The following eight “therapeutic factors” of group therapy identified by American existential psychiatrist Dr Irvin D. Yalom also serve as benefits to be gained from being in a psoriasis support group.
Universality – Members come to realize that there are other people facing the same issues they are.
Installation of hope – Members begin to view their situation with greater positivity and optimism.
Imparting of information – Members gain knowledge about their particular situation, giving them a feeling of empowerment from the knowledge.
Socializing techniques – Members develop their basic social skills through interactions within the group.
Interpersonal learning – Members develop the skills needed to build supportive relationships as they learn and share about relationships and intimacy.
Imitative learning/modeling – Members learn coping strategies and more effective ways of handling challenges by mirroring the behaviors of other members.
Altruism – Members gain an increased sense of self-worth by being supportive of others in the group.
Group cohesiveness – Members feel a sense of security, empowerment, and acceptance from being part of a nurturing group.
Here are some other psoriasis support group benefits.
Members share information and resources about treatment options.
Members can vent about their frustrations with their psoriasis in a nonjudgmental environment.
Members experience lower levels of depression, anxiety, stress, and distress in relation to their condition.
Benefits of Joining an Online Psoriasis Support Group
Along with the benefits mentioned above, online psoriasis support, such as that facilitated by 7chairs.org, carries unique benefits not usually offered in face-to-face settings. These include:
1. You can reach out for support 24/7. Depending on the mode through which the group communicates, support can be accessed instantly instead of having to wait until the next meeting. For example, members of a psoriasis support group that operates as a discussion forum can always post a question or reach out for support during a stressful incident, knowing someone will always be available to help.
2. They provide anonymity. Not everyone wishes to share their problems in a face-to-face setting. Someone with social anxiety, for example, may find in-person meetings far too stressful and would prefer the emotional security offered by being able to remain anonymous in an online setting.
3. They can be accessed from remote locations. Face-to-face meetings tend to only be viable in areas where there are large populations of persons dealing with the same issue. With online options, even if you are the only one in your area seeking psoriasis support, you can still find plenty of groups online to select from.
4. They are convenient for persons who cannot make it to face-to-face meetings. Quite often, at-home responsibilities, a hectic work schedule or a disability make it difficult for a psoriasis patient to attend face-to-face sessions. Online support can be accessed in the comfort of your own home or anywhere else that is convenient for you.
5. it is much easier to share information digitally than in person. This is because there is no need for hard copies of information and whatever is shared can always be accessed again and again through whatever medium the group communicates.
6. They are delivered in several different modes. Psoriasis sufferers can choose from a variety of online delivery options. These include broadcast email, bulletin boards, message boards, video chats or video conferencing, and group chat rooms.
We were never meant to go it alone. The many benefits of online support for persons with psoriasis serve as an indication of its effectiveness.