Friday, December 1, 2017

Virtually Mad Cafe - Fridays 8-9:30 PM EST (Group Format)

Hi there!  Glad you found us!  Our group call format is in transition.  If you need peer support, want to offer it, or want to learn more about either or both, please contact us:

Our basic approach to people helping people ('peer support') is summarized below, as well as a flavor of what we've offered in the past:

Virtually Mad Cafe

Welcome to the Virtually Mad Cafe. We meet Fridays from 8-9:30 PM Eastern Standard Time.

We are a community that shares a love of mad people and our experiences, ideas and culture.  We get together on Friday nights for the same reasons that a lot of other people do:

  • To mark the end of a long week
  • To meet new people
  • To connect with others who share similar experiences and values
  • To share what's going on for us - the good, the bad, the lovely and the ugly
  • To keep up other callers we come to care about
  • To hear the latest political gossip
  • To shake our heads over the state of the world 
  • To get exposed to information and perspectives that are new to us.    
There are probably a lot of other reasons, but these are some of the common ones.

Not Therapy or Treatment

We are not a therapy or treatment group. We think of ourselves as a community rather than a support group. We don't relate to each other as sick or ill. Our goal is not to make each other better or well. Rather our primary purpose is to connect with others who own madness as their personal  experience and to create conversations that everyone present can participate in and enjoy.

Shared Values

1. No Pros, No cops, No 911. Above all else, we agree not to police each other, therapize each other, or take over each other's emergencies.

2. Share from the heart & make space for others to do the same

3. Hold each other’s truths with dignity, respect, interest and willingness to learn

4. Maintain a heavy dose of humility for the things we don't yet know or understand

5. Respect each person’s conscience and right to decide for themselves

6. Create a community, rather than a support group

7. Change the world in ways that make it liveable for all human beings

8. Support each other’s human rights, including the right to be left alone

Helpful hints

  1. Getting Started: Calls are member-run. Anyone can use this format and get the call started.
  2. Share the Work: Each of these hints is a role that can be filled by someone on the call. This is a way to share power and responsibility and gives everyone a chance to help out. We all learn together about how the call works. We each play an active role in creating a call culture that we enjoy and believe in. 
  3. Warm Welcome: At the beginning, we welcome each other to the call. There's a bell that (usually) lets you know when someone joins or leaves. You can also see this on the internet console:
  4. Introductions: We usually go around and do introductions near the beginning of the call. We ask everyone to say a name (even a fake one) - but beyond that it's fine if you just want to listen. Alternatively, you can type a name on the console if you are joining us online. 
  5. New Arrivals: If there's an ongoing conversation, keep a look out for new arrivals. Say 'hello,' and invite them to introduce themselves and join in as they feel ready. 
  6. Create Community: It's a community - not a support group or therapy session. Share the air. Hold space for each other. Invite participation, topics, check-ins, feedback and reflection. 
  7. Respect Diversity: Speak for yourself, not for others. Tell your story, listen to others. Work on your own issues, not on other people. Share your own struggles instead of judging or giving advice.
  8. Build a Conversation: Be kind to your audience. Conversations are interesting when a variety of people talk and no one person talks too often or for too long. Generally, 3-5 minutes is a good time to shift to a new speaker. If you're the quiet type, this is your time to step in. If you're more talkative, remember that you can always come back and share more after others have been heard.
  9. Broaden Participation: Be mindful of 'two-somes.' It can be easy to forget that there are several people on the call. If you find yourself saying something after every person talks, it might be time to step back or ask others to join in.
  10. Ask for Help: Sometimes strong feelings come up on these calls. Not everyone agrees with each other. It's ok to ask the group for space or help to work it out. It's also fine to hang up if you need to. But, we hope you'll tell us sooner than later what's going on. You're probably picking up on something that isn't working for others too. (It's not just you 😏) 
  11. Make Time for Feedback: Its great to make time for feedback about 10 minutes before the end of the call. It helps to know what worked for you. Just as important, it helps to know what didn't work so well for you - and how you'd like the group to help you get what you need next time. This is how we learn. 
  12. End the Call - sort of: We end the call at the stated time. However, people are welcome to keep talking after the call for as long as they like - or until there's another scheduled call. 

Suggested reading:

Reverse Psychology: Why We Say "No Pros, No Cops, No 911",

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