Home What are support groups?
What is a support group?

The joining of a group of people who have common needs or problems, whose purpose is to draw upon the support, caring, resources and skills of all group members for the benefit of all.

They provide an opportunity for information sharing, increased understanding and peer support. They allow people to discuss and share their lived experience and emotions and to develop new strategies in a safe and supportive environment. Support groups aim to break the isolation, fear and stigma attached to a particular issue by offering support and understanding. It is different in many senses to a therapy group, information group or developmental group.

Support groups are open, unstructured in format and agenda and reactive to group needs.

EDV Support groups do not provide professional advice, medical advice, nutritional advice, counselling, crisis management or case management.

Who runs the groups?

All EDV support groups are run by trained volunteers with knowledge and/or experience relevant to running groups and/or a personal experience with eating disorders. We also aim to have a visiting health professional at some Combined groups.

The involvement of these professionals provides participants with the opportunity to ask more specific questions about particular aspects of eating disorders and gain a deeper understanding and awareness about the eating disorder. The role of the volunteer facilitators is to:

  • Facilitate the sharing of peer support and information and ensure the smooth running of the EDV support groups.
  • To facilitate, drawing out the resources of the group and encouraging the exchange of ideas and feelings in a constructive and positive environment.
  • To facilitate the sharing between members, to identify commonalities in experience, and to protect the safety and continuity of the group.
  • To guide group discussion, prevent conflicts from developing and intervene in the case of a crisis.
  • To ensure the EDV guidelines are being upheld at all times and to intervene as required.


The convenor is not expected to know all the answers or to be able to fix the problem. It is the role of the convenor to manage group processes and direct the group (and individual) communications in a positive ways to achieve the above aims, and to provide information or strategies for finding information when appropriate. EDV Support groups are support focused not information focused.

Is there a cost?

A contribution of $3 to cover costs is gratefully appreciated.

Are there any restrictions?

We aim to be non-discriminatory and as inclusive as possible at all meetings however some guidelines and eligibility criteria apply. 

  • An EDV Support Group is for peer support only. It is not a treatment or crisis support service.
  • The Recovery Support Group is for people with an eating disorder 18 years and over who are taking steps towards, or need support in, maintaining recovery.
  • The Recovery Support Group is not suitable for current hospital in-patients, people whose physical health is severely compromised due to their eating disorders, or persons equally medically or emotionally unwell. Active participation is recommended but is optional.
  • The Family and Friends Support Group is only for people supporting a person with an eating disorder. Carers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
  • The Combined Support Group is for people over the age of 18 who either have an eating disorder and/or their carers. Participants can attend alone or bring their support/recovering person with them.
  • In all cases, group participants should not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. For their own safety and for the wellbeing of all participants, these people will not be admitted to meetings.
  • Group participants that self-harm must cover up all evidence of self-harm when attending a support group.
  • Participants are expected to be emotionally and mentally well enough to travel to and from meetings without support and sit through an entire support group.
  • All groups are open to both males and females.


Where can I find a support group?

Eating Disorders Victoria provides a number of support groups across Victoria for people with an eating disorder and their families, partners and friends. To view support group locations and dates click here.

Subscribe to EDV eNews
Email address