Jewish Family Services offers online support

Jewish Family Services of Greenwich (JFS) plans to become the first Jewish social services agency in the U.S. to widen its therapeutic reach via its pioneering Online Support Group Project (OSGP).

In a typical support group, people gather in a variety of settings to share their concerns, under the guidance of a licensed social worker; Jewish Family Services of Greenwich has been running these groups for many years but unfortunately, many potential clients have been left frustrated because they can’t visit the JFS office for the recommended counseling. Some don’t drive, while others are unable to leave the house due to advanced age, illness, or depression. Often, caregivers can’t easily leave the house because there’s no one to watch the kids or look after a family member with chronic illness or dementia.

“Individuals can now gain sustenance and strength through support-group counseling while remaining in their homes,” JFS director Lisa-Loraine Smith, LCSW said. “Support groups help people feel less lonely, isolated, and judged. It’s especially empowering for people who can’t get out of the house to connect and engage with others and see other people’s faces, even online.”

The first pilot group, for those battling chronic illness, launched in March.Ms. Smith explains that “the chronically ill get tired of not feeling well, but are frustrated when trying to explain their limitations to others.”

After just a few sessions, one participant said: “Thank goodness this online option allows me to connect with others. I usually I feel so isolated because I am unable to get out due to my illness.”

“I was nervous about the technology but it was easy and stress-free. It isn’t quite the same as being in the same room, but darn close,” another participant added.

Based on the positive response to the first group, a second one for caregivers, is happening now. Participants can join in from anywhere, via a computer, tablet, or smart phone, as long as they have Internet access. Fees are modest and sliding scale fees always apply. Each group will include a maximum of eight participants and be professionally facilitated by licensed, experienced JFS social workers.

For more information regarding scheduling and service fees, contact Ms. Smith, LCSW, at 203-622-1881 or [email protected] For more information on Jewish Family Services of Greenwich, visit JFSGreenwich.org.

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