Hi, my name is Shirley Sela Venter, I’m the head of Support services in 7Chairs, and a group facilitator. I’m a clinical social worker and psychotherapist, and I facilitate groups of psoriasis fighters, cancer patients, chronically ill patients, groups of medical staff, and divorcees. In my private practice, I work in the field of psycho-oncology and psychotherapy for mental illnesses, and I am a strong believer in the great power of groups.
The experience I have had as a facilitator for 7Chairs has been phenomenal. People from all over the world can get together and have a cross-continental and cross-cultural meeting for people with common ground. Other professionals ask me how is it possible to successfully facilitate a support group without meeting people face to face, without seeing their body language, how can this work?
I explain to them that having meetings on the 7Chairs platform, where everything is shared in the digital space, with just text and no voice or video (initially), enables people to open up so much more easily. People who are introverted, those who suffer social phobias, those who are embarrassed due to body disfigurement, illness, or handicap, chemotherapy due to cancer, etc, they all tend to feel much more comfortable sharing their most intimate details. As facilitators, we make sure that the group atmosphere is safe, comfortable, and all are aware of the rules of respectful conversation.
Again and again I find it amazing how quickly people open up and dare bringing their own self, with no masks, no inhibitions. They are just being clear and direct, daring to share so many private matters of their lives. People who have kept secrets from others for many years, are revealing them in a first/second meeting of a group. It’s just fascinating.
I share with my colleagues how with 7Chairs group support platform I can pick up through my training as a professional the text and subtext, the conscious and the subconscious. Members can even sense when someone is crying or hurt. I even use guided imagery techniques to help relax the group members and enable them to enter a deeper world within themselves.
7Chairs for me is a miracle!!! I know it sounds odd, but when a group meeting ends, I’m the happiest person in the whole world, you know why? Because I felt that magic, I felt that connection of a real heart to heart conversation with no barriers. A dialogue between wandering souls in the world, who are lucky enough to meet, share, think, feel, and be together all in the same boat, finally feeling understood, and not alone.
7Chairs support groups last for several months, during which people can go through changes, improving their quality of life as they devote themselves to their emotional coping, treating themselves in a holistic manner, using others in the group to mirror their dilemmas and challenges, and gain knowledge and understanding for better coping.
Shirley Sela Venter
Head of Support Services
7chairs Support Groups