If you run support groups or provide group education, GPS may be right for your population!
For those in need, there are many challenges to accessing quality mental health care and impactful psycho-social education. Individual barriers of stigma, fear and shame keep many isolated. The lack of knowledgeable, culturally appropriate and community-based mental health care can also make it very difficult to get the critical care needed during vulnerable times.
Specialized support groups led by trained professionals and peer leaders in the community can provide effective group treatment for individuals with unique challenges. Support groups are effective in diminishing isolation; both a cause and symptom of depression and anxiety, providing supportive psycho-education and empowering people to develop strategies for improved functioning and recovery. High quality support groups fill necessary gaps in mental health services and provide non-stigmatizing care in community-based settings, therefore supporting, not only individuals, but providers as well.
GPS is Impactful
GPS is an approach that can make any group treatment more impactful. GPS is a trauma-responsive group model and integrates evidence-based therapeutic modalities. It is both a replicable model, ensuring a consistent experience for both participants and facilitators, as well as being culturally adaptable in order to meet the specific needs of the community it serves. It has been successfully implemented across the U.S. in programs that serve parents including mothers struggling with PMADs (Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders), opioid dependency and recovery, bereavement, teen mothers, and parents engaged with Early Intervention, Head Start and Child Protective Services. It is being used in medical and mental health settings, as well as community-based programs, educational settings, faith-based communities and in the languages of the people being served.
Evidence-informed & Strength-based
GPS for Parents is an accessible, replicable and adaptable evidence-informed group model that draws on a variety of successful and evidence-based therapeutic and support group modalities including Cognitive Behavioral and Interpersonal Therapies, Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction, Motivational Interviewing and Psycho-social Education for greatest outcomes for parents. GPS is a strength-based group model informed by the knowledge that group treatment is an effective modality in overcoming barriers to care such as stigma, shame, and isolation, as well as addressing issues of inadequate population-specific community-based mental health resources. Early indications show that GPS Support Groups significantly impact maternal depression scores and increase social support.
GPS is grounded in a strong trauma-informed methodology which is incorporated into each aspect of the group rationale and implementation, from preparation to closing. There is a strong emphasis on cultural competency and intersectionality of poverty, race, gender and cultural messaging and a specialized focus on at-risk populations including teen parents, parents with substance use disorder and/or in recovery, and parents engaged with child protective services.
GPS provides the map for rapid implementation and employs best practices so that both seasoned professionals and peer leaders can use and adapt it with success. GPS is specifically designed so that you can bring GPS to your community, implement it immediately after attending the GPS Facilitator Training and directly incorporate it into new or existing programming. GPS wraps around existing curriculums with ease and can also be implemented as is. Through engagement with GPS Facilitator Training and Certification, you can bring GPS to your community with confidence, ensuring fidelity and competence, and move towards training your community to more fully integrate GPS into the pathway of care for diverse populations.
Culturally Co-created for Diverse Populations
GPS is intentionally developed to be culturally specific for unique communities by utilizing a standardized approach that can be infused with the qualities, beliefs, strengths, challenges and beauty of specific people who are being served. No two communities are exactly the same and we believe that GPS should be centered around the unique community utilizing the model. The model is specifically designed to encourage flexibility and allow for the full integration of unique perspectives, cultural refinement and inclusion. All people deserve to be supported by a model that remembers and values who they are and is built to address their unique struggles and highlight their profound strengths. GPS places special attention on the intersection of identify and the lived experience of racism and other forms of systematic mistreatment of people. GPS has been used with many unique populations including, Muslim, Jewish and Christian faith communities, BIPOC communities, refugees including Ukrainian, Afghan, Somalian and others, people who are houseless or currently struggling with homelessness, people who are currently or formerly incarcerated, parents of all gender identities and experiences including perinatal and more. GPS has been brought to address specific health struggles including mental and physical health complications, illnesses, death and dying, and care givers. GPS has been impactful in supporting workers who are experiencing workplace stress including the COVID pandemic.
Flexible Implementation: Your Curriculum or GPS Curriculum
While there are many evidence-based curriculums available to serve diverse populations there are few models that ensure that the group experience for participants is itself trauma and evidence informed. When the group experience is not intentionally therapeutic by design, the impact of even evidence-based curriculums can be less than optimal. GPS Group Peer Support provides a clear structure with integrated evidence-based modalities in a consistent format. GPS can be utilized with existing curriculums or specifically designed GPS Curriculums.
Peer and Professional Led
GPS groups are equally effective when led by peer specialists and those with lived experience as well as professionals including mental health, medical health and other licensed care specialists. Training peers in GPS has proven to be an effective way to provide confidence and competence to critical members of the care team who may not have received clinical training.
Because GPS is easy to replicate, bring to scale, and train diverse team members who have different levels of experience, it is more cost effective than other treatment modalities that utilize one-on-one dyadic models and other intensive approaches. One trained GPS leader can provide consistent, evidence-based support to more people in the same amount of time, enhance the benefit of community support and provide equal benefit to one-on-one models.
Benefits to participants
GPS groups provide benefits to those seeking social support and mental health care by normalizing their lived experience, diminishing stigma, reducing isolation, identifying strengths and enhancing the opportunity for group members to identify with the strengths they see in each other and in the facilitators. Groups members consistently leave GPS groups saying, “I don’t feel alone anymore,” and “Now I think I can do it.”
Benefits to facilitators
GPS groups have been shown to reduce conflict between participants as well as challenges to facilitator leadership, while increasing participation and group member satisfaction. Facilitators report greater ease and satisfaction in facilitating groups, and a diminishment of stress and burnout. Supervisors report that it is easier to supervise team members utilizing GPS and that employees are happier and pleased with the impact that they are having using the GPS model.
Mental health support for communities that are underserved
Many communities are underserved and do not receive access to mental health support that is necessary to address the level of trauma, injury and hurt that is being experienced. This is for many reasons including limitations in providing language and culturally appropriate services, inadequate reimbursement structures and insufficient services where there is need. In addition, historical and current factors such as racism in medical and mental health care make it difficult for people to feel safe and comfortable accessing traditional mental health care. GPS runs counter to all of this. Because of the focus on community, the training given to facilitators and the commitment to refining curriculums to meet the needs, experiences and strengths of unique communities, GPS is able to provide mental health care to communities that otherwise would not receive it.