Analysis of a Support Group for Young Spinal Cord-Injured Males


  • Joan E. Bowers EdD RN,

    Associate Professor, Corresponding authorSearch for more papers by this author
  • John P. Clark-Mahoney RN,

  • Terri Forshee MSN RN,

  • Kimi A. Reiner RN,

  • Jan E. Schilling RN,

  • Betty S. Snyder RN

Department of Psychosocial Nursing, SC-76, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195.


This article analyzes the development of a support group for young male spinal cord-injured (SCI) clients. Both Goffman's theoretic framework of spoiled identity and Erikson's developmental model are used to guide this analysis. The most useful structure of a support group for young SCI male clients seems to be one that focuses on active mastery of various obstacles that need to be overcome. The topics that emerged in working with this support group over a period of 24 months focused on the broad categories of developing independence, role transitions, communication and self-expression, and the rehabilitation team. Clients who choose not to participate in support groups may need additional individual counseling in order to facilitate their later participation. Inclusion of the support group in the rehabilitation process appeared to reduce the amount of client “acting-out” both on and off the unit; this observation merits investigation through outcome research. Additional research questions are also proposed.