Group Format/Agreements

1. Nature of Group

The group is primarily a support group, though it may also provide therapeutic benefits. We are mainly here to support each other, offer constructive feedback, and to assist each other in personal growth. We may also consider arranging group activities outside of regular meeting times, but these are secondary and optional to weekly meetings.

A prerequisite for EBMN membership is the capacity to balance giving and receiving feedback. This is not a therapy group. If a facilitator or screener finds a prospective member unable to make the necessary connection with others he will let him know as soon as possible. He will then refer him to professionals with the psychological expertise to give him the attention and care he deserves.

2. Scope of meetings

Since one function of a support group is to allow members to stay abreast of each other’s lives, a basic review of events has its place in check-ins. In general, however, members should focus on feeling states from outside and inside the group. When checking in members should avoid repetition, and tangential stories, which do relate to immediate and pressing concerns.

3. Conflict

Members will try to deal at meetings with disagreements or personality clashes. The tone should be open, tolerant and non-abusive. As much as possible it is best to level with each other with areas of like and dislike while remaining compassionate and not blaming. All group members are responsible for paying attention to how members treat each other during meetings, and for speaking up if a disagreement is getting out of hand. It is a shared responsibility to resolve conflicts and antagonisms directly rather than leave them to fester in denial and fear.

4.Confidentiality

Members will keep the best interests of other members in mind when they repeat things that they have learned at meetings. In no case will they use the name of another member when relating information to non-members, unless the member in question has given them permission to do so.

Will every man agree to respect each other’s privacy?

5. Meeting places

Members will make their homes available on a rotating basis for group meetings. At times a group may decide to meet at a central location.

Will every man agree to host a meeting rotation?

6. Absences

Members are expected to demonstrate their commitment to the group by attending meetings regularly. We realize that sometimes work and family conflicts are sometimes unavoidable excuses. If someone has to miss a meeting, he should inform the host or another member before the meetings. If the host can not make the meeting himself, it is his responsibility to arrange another meeting place and inform the rest of the group. If a man misses meetings regularly or frequently without communicating with other members, the group will discuss the impact of his absence. If the impact is too great, the group may need to ask the absentee member to leave.

7. Punctuality

Members are expected to be on time. Check-ins will begin within 15 minutes of the scheduled starting time. Latecomers will go to the rear of the line for check-ins. If a member constantly comes late or leaves early, the group will address it.

Will every man agree to arrive on time?

8. Leaving the group

Members who decide to drop out of the group are expected to meet one last time with the group, both to say goodbye and to explain why they are leaving. This allows the group to assess their own impact in the process. It is also an act of respect and courtesy to the group allow their own closure.

9. Criticism

In offering criticism, members should aim for kindness not harshness, remembering that the purpose in being in men’s group is to help, not hurt others. In particular, one should avoid accusations and attacks. Do this by giving personal feelings (“I” statements) rather than blaming others (“You” statements.)

10. Decision-making Our goal in reaching decisions affecting the group is consensus. This means hearing diverse opinions and reaching conclusions in that is at least tolerable to everyone.

11. Format

Check-in. Meetings will begin with brief check-in of 5 minutes or less per member during which members may ask for more time later All members will honor this need for brevity. The host for the evening will act as facilitator and check in first. He may choose to change the order of the format elements.

Additional time. If someone takes additional time he should let others know if he want problem solving or just to be listened to by other members. He needs to let others know how much time he needs so as to stay focused.

Held issues. The host will ask if there are unresolved issues between members within the group itself. Other members will act as mediators.

Group Process. If time permits, the host can lead discussion around a theme from check-in or an exercise from our repository.

Check out. This is a brief verbal closure on reactions to one’s self and each other during the evening’s activities.

Group Hug or another ritual closing.