Become a Peer Support Group Leader
Thank you for your interest in becoming an ANAD Peer Support Group Leader!
ANAD’s free, eating disorder support groups offer weekly peer support and are open to anyone with lived experience with an eating disorder. Our groups are facilitated by trained volunteers who have walked the difficult road to recovery from their eating disorder and have been recovered for at least 2 years. ANAD Support Group Leaders are recovered individuals with lived experience of an eating disorder, and/or those who are passionate about eating disorder recovery. As a volunteer, you will receive comprehensive training that will empower you, expand your knowledge of eating disorders and body image concerns, and provide an incredible learning opportunity.
Volunteer Position Overview
ANAD support group leaders provide a safe, warm, and friendly space in which participants can feel free to share their feelings. ANAD trains and supervises volunteers so that they have help every step of the way. All ANAD support group leaders must complete required ANAD volunteer training. Volunteers commit to 6 months of service at a time.
Support group leaders have the following responsibilities:
- Facilitate 75 minute support groups approximately 3 times/month (support groups are offered weekly through a rotating set of leaders)
- Document calls using provided form
- Attend monthly supervision calls; participate in online discussions
- Sign the Agreement
- Get assigned to a support group with 1-2 other support group leaders
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, all support groups are offered through Zoom video conferencing that can be accessed from any computer. At this time we are not offering in-person support groups.
People attending our support groups are struggling with disordered eating. They can attend at any stage of recovery. Each week, a trained support group leader provides ground rules for communicating, leads the group in intros and check-ins, and then encourages open discussion among as many participants as possible.
You will lead a 60-75 minute support at least 2-3 times per month. A schedule will be provided. Each group will have 15-20 participants.
Support group leaders ensure ground rules and intros have been covered, encourage conversation, summarize, reflect on, relate to, and provide encouragement for whatever is said by group participants.
ANAD currently launches volunteers into service in February and August of each year. Depending on when you apply, it may be several weeks before you begin training and then launch into service. It will be worth the wait!
Training is offered 1 month prior to beginning volunteer service. Most of the training is self paced reading and activities, and can be completed in about 5-7 hours. Upon completion of the training and activities, there is a required live session on Zoom, with a chance to ask questions, practice, etc. This session is 1.5 hours.
Each support group leader is assigned to one group that meets weekly, and through a rotation of 2-3 volunteers, will lead group 2-3 times per month.
ANAD provides ongoing support to all volunteers through our trained volunteer team leaders. These are experienced volunteers who will be available to you for crisis situations, monthly supervision calls and discussions on Slack (our volunteer engagement platform). Additionally, the Programs team will be available as needed.
Yes, many professionals who have had eating disorders decide to help others by becoming support group leaders. The role of a support group leader is non-clinical so it is important that professionals have a clear understanding of one’s role as a peer support person. This can be addressed during training.
See What is Recovery. You are recovered enough if you have the ability to maintain or work towards a healthy weight, control over eating disorder thoughts and behaviors, ability to identify situations of personal risk, and have self-care strategies in place to manage your own well-being. Self-care strategies include seeing a therapist, participating in a support group, as well as other personal practices.
- Recovery is not linear – there are lapses and that is expected. No one expects perfection. The key is to recognize issues, get back on target and ask for help.
- ANAD requires that there be 2 years of recovery before volunteering to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
Here is a checklist we suggest (Adapted from Caswell & Logie, Reaching Out for Hope republished NEDC Stories from Experience Module 8, 2015):
- Can I talk about my experience of eating difficulties and the struggles I have been through without being distressed? Can I reflect on difficult times and still be available and present for other people?
- Is my physical health stable at the moment?
- Have I learned from my experience of illness and can I speak about the process of recovery and why it was worth it? Am I open to learning new skills like how to effectively facilitate a group and work in a safe way?
- Do I have the time, energy and availability to participate in training, group sessions and debriefing?
- Do I have a support network and self-care strategies in place? Have I demonstrated in the past that I will use these when I need them?
- Do I know my own indicators of risk? Am I able to ask for help or withdraw from the group when I am at risk?
- Am I comfortable with the fact that there is no ‘one size fits all’ way to recover from an eating disorder and that everyone needs to change at their own pace and in their own way? Can I avoid comparisons of ED experiences? Am I comfortable with the idea that recovery is always possible while still acknowledging that the process is often difficult and distressing?
- Am I committed to taking care of myself?
Your support makes a difference.
ANAD is a donation-based recovery community. We believe eating disorder support should be affordable and accessible to all. To continue offering our services for free to those who need it, we rely on donations from those who can afford them. Please consider supporting our mission.