Support group for teens with type 1 diabetes


Quick summary: Research has shown that support groups for teens with type one diabetes are extremely beneficial to the participants overall well-being. In fact, people who have diabetes tend to have lower incidences of mental health concerns as compared to the general population – this is thought to be because of the amount of familial, social and individual supports that are made available. I am starting a support group (May 2010) in both Longmont and Denver Colorado… as I have already done quite a bit of research I thought that I might offer my group template to any psychotherapist that might want to start such a group in their own area. If you know some one who might be interested in this group (or other therapy services) – please send them to my web page – – for more information. To clarify this is a support group and not a psycho education group – this means that the therapist will be there to support you, to link themes, to create a feeling of safety, and to offer topics… the therapist is not necessarily there to teach you in a directive fashion.

The group:

 Greetings you are invited to the teenager support group for teens with type 1 diabetes

 This group is designed to put you into contact with other teens that may be having similar experiences as you. The nature of this group is to share, to support, to learn, to grow, to resolve and to arrive at a place of greater comfort and acceptance. 

The group will be run by one or two psychotherapists – their job will be to ensure that the group runs smoothly so that everyone feels comfortable, safe, and supported while the group members are sharing about their life with diabetes. They will also offer weekly topics to help facilitate meaningful conversations. 

This is not an educational group per say – the education will come from you all sharing your life experiences (again the therapist are there to make this easier than it sounds); the therapists will be there to support you, to link themes, to create a feeling of safety, and they are not necessarily there to teach you (no extra homework or reading). 

The goals of the group will be individually defined by all the members in the group. We would also hope that the group helps people to feel more supported, to feel understood, to have a place to talk openly, to help the group members relationships with significant others, to feel more hopeful, to come up with solutions, and to create a meaningful and fulfilling view of life.

There will be eight groups and the topics will be as follows: (note the therapists will ask for suggested group topics from the group so the format may change if there is limited interest for one topic and considerable interest for another topic.)

Group 1

Introductions and getting to know each other


The medical component – interacting with people in the helping field 

  • People in the helping or medical field – how do you feel about them?
  • Appointments and trainings – are they helpful?
  • The available options and their positives and negatives – (ex. pump or no pump)

What are the most and the least effective ways of managing your diabetes?

What could the medical field and the other helping fields do better?

Group 2

How do you communicate about diabetes with the general public? 

  • explaining diabetes itself
  • food or nutrition needs
  • privacy needs
  • Different treatment needs – leaving class, being excused from certain activities, doctor appointments etc.

 How do you deal with people who are less respectful or who get in the way of your managing your diabetes correctly?

What are your thoughts and emotions concerning this process of communicating to the public?

What is helpful and what is not helpful?

What would make this easier?

How does this relate to your privacy needs?

Group 3

What are some of the affects that having diabetes has on your relationships with family and friends?

How do you communicate with family or other close supports? 

What is helpful?

  • Emotionally
  • In relation to diabetes management
  • In general

What is not so helpful?

  • Emotionally
  • In relation to diabetes management
  • In general

What needs do you have that are not yet being met?

What are some solutions that have made things better?

  • How did you get a need met?
  • How was a relationship improved?

Would you like feedback from the group?

Group 4

Common reactions to learning about having diabetes

  • Denial
  • Isolation
  • Bargaining
  • Depression and/or hopelessness
  • Acceptance
  • Individual meaning  

Which have you experienced?

Where do your believe your are now… what is your predominate feeling?

Group 5  

Creating your identity and becoming independent 

What is important to you?

What do you still want some help with?

Can you really be independent or is everyone mostly dependant?

How does diabetes relate to all of this? 

What is your choice and what is not your choice?

Group 6

Teen specific themes

  • dating
  • appearance
  • overnights
  • curfew
  • sleeping in
  • money
  • availability of snacks and insulin
  • your friends and peers


Group 7

 The difficulties of teenage social life

  • bullying
  • teasing
  • prejudice
  • fitting in 

Peer pressure

  • coping with the added risk of alcohol and tobacco commonly at social events 

How have you been successful?

What is most challenging to you?

Group 8

The added pressure of increased responsibility

  • driving
  • academics
  • athletics
  • social clubs or hobbies
  • social responsibilities
  • management of diabetes
  • college or future work prep
  • part time work

How do you deal with stress?

Ending the group – processing the experience – what do you need now?

What did you gain from this experience?

William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.
William Hambleton Bishop
William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.

2 thoughts on “Support group for teens with type 1 diabetes

  1. I know this isn’t exactly on topic, but i have a website using the identical program as nicely and i am getting troubles with my comments displaying. is there a setting i’m lacking? it’s attainable you might help me out? thanx.

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