COPE Healing Tip of the Month

From COPE Clinical Director Amy Olshever, PhD, LCSW

Healing Tip: September 2015

Everyday thousands of people participate in grief support online. This might be in a forum, a message board or on a Facebook page. This support can be great, especially when it is used together with some form of face to face support, like a group or individual therapy session. But it’s important to recognize that all websites are not equal.

How do you know that the site you find is safe, reliable, and offers accurate information? Here are some precautions you can take before deciding to join any online grief forum or message board:

  • Investigate before you participate. Does that have a sponsor? What are they selling?
  • Is the site moderated? Read about the moderators to learn about their background, education, training, licensure and certification. Make sure they have experience in facilitating groups and knowledge about the normal grief process. Read some posts written by the moderators to get a sense of their approach to grieving people.
  • Make certain that the group or forum you select is made up of mourners with whom you can identify. Read some of the posts in a given forum to decide if you can relate to the people gathered there.
  • Look for a statement of the group’s purpose and its “ground rules.” These should appear on the site’s main (or “home”) page.
  • Look for an option that enables you to report to the moderator(s) any post that you find objectionable.
  • Use your own good judgment and common sense. If something doesn’t feel right, if you don’t feel safe, accepted or understood, trust your instincts, leave immediately and find another group.