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- Best for survivors of rape, sexual abuse, and sexual assault: After Silence
- Best for CPTSD support: CPTSD Community Safe Group
- Best for those seeking a large peer community: r/PTSD
- Best for survivors and their loved ones: MyPTSD
- Best for support on a mobile app: 7 Cups
A traumatic event can last a few minutes, but can last for years.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can involve a range of deeply distressing symptoms, including nightmares and flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, feelings of guilt, and avoidance, just to name a few.
Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) is linked to repeated trauma and involves similar symptoms plus a few additional ones. These can include difficulty regulating emotions, episodes of dissociation, and trouble maintaining healthy relationships. While it’s not yet a formally recognized diagnosis, an increasing number of mental health professionals are becoming aware of it.
People often associate PTSD with military combat, and it does affect a significant number of veterans. Still, PTSD can develop after any type of trauma. Regardless of the cause, it can have major consequences for day-to-day life and personal relationships.
Peer support can help people living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is possible to feel less alone and have less feelings of shame and guilt by connecting with others who have faced similar traumas.
Not sure if you want to attend a support group in person? The best online support groups for post-traumatic stress disorder.
It is important to understand that support groups are not the same as professional treatment.
Group therapy is run by a mental health professional. Support groups may not be run by a professional.
You can share your trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder experiences in therapy with a mental health professional.
A support group will often be made up of people with the same condition. These members come together to share their stories and ask questions.
“While you might sign an agreement or agree to some privacy guidelines when joining a group, they aren’t bound by the same confidentiality requirements as therapy.”
Virtual meetings that take place over video are not the most popular online options for support groups.
These groups have some drawbacks.
- Anyone can join. This is a good thing, but it also means that some people might not be there for the right reasons.
- “Professionals don’t usually participate in these groups.”
- Most members are aware of the importance of privacy, but others might be less attentive.
We considered the following to find the best online support groups.
- Accessibility. We chose support groups with easy-to-use, established websites. We also checked to make sure these groups had a fairly straightforward signup process.
- Cost. We only included free or low cost support groups.
- Rules and moderation. We considered guidelines used to prevent trolling, personal attacks, and other harmful and abusive behavior.
- Privacy. Online support groups generally have open membership, though you’ll sometimes need an account in order to access all message boards. One upside of internet support? You have complete anonymity and can create a username and email address specifically for the group.
- Number of members. Unlike support groups that take place in person, cyberspace doesn’t get crowded. Online, greater member participation can make it more likely someone will offer the words of support you need. Plus, a larger number of members also implies that many people find the group helpful.
- Ongoing member participation. We also searched for groups with regular and prompt activity. After all, you won’t get much from sharing in a group where your post goes unanswered for days.
Best for survivors of rape, sexual abuse, and sexual assault
- Where it’s available: website
- Price: free
This forum aims to validate, empower, and support survivors of all types of sexual violence through protected and moderated message boards and online chat.
After Silence emphasizes that all survivors of any type of sexual violence are welcome, regardless of religion, gender, ethnicity, race, or sexual orientation.
The site offers a few public forums, including rules and guidelines and a welcome section, but you’ll need to make an account before chatting or viewing other message boards.
You can access more than 30 private forums on a range of recovery-related topics, including anxiety, self-harm, depression, and more. Dedicated forums for male and LGBTQIA+ survivors are also found.
Recovery information and resources are provided on the site.
- You can get support from wherever you are.
- You can observe and participate at your own pace.
- helpful resources for local support
- Not the most user friendly site.
Best for CPTSD support
- Where it’s available: membership website
- Price: $5/month
The CPTSD Foundation operates and moderates this private support group on Circle.co. Registration is required.
The CPTSD Community Safe Group is a place to connect with other people who also have CPTSD.
You can share your experiences and get guidance. Group administrators and moderators address inappropriate posts.
- Private support group of people.
- There are resources available to help manage CPTSD.
- The administrators handle inappropriate content to create a positive environment.
- A small fee to join.
Best for a large peer community
- Where it’s available: public website forum
- Price: free
Reddit’s PTSD subreddit, active since 2008, has more than 75,000 members. This community exists to help people living with PTSD, along with their loved ones, connect with other survivors.
You can use this subreddit to share your story, ask questions, find resources for recovery and self-care, and get judgment-free support. Just keep in mind that asking for medical advice goes against the community guidelines.
This forum is easy to navigate if you have used Reddit before. You can choose to filter posts by advice, resources, discussion, and support. If you are new to the site, joining and posting are easy.
The right sidebar of each subreddit has a few important rules to follow, and the moderators try to make sure everyone follows those rules.
- There is a huge membership base for support.
- Many members share, so giving and receiving support is easy to receive.
- Anyone can view and post in the public group.
Best for survivors and their loved ones
- Where it’s available: website (with membership)
- Price: free
The MyPTSD forum helps connect survivors and their supporters with PTSD news, information, and community support.
There are separate threads for sleep, avoidance, relationships, and hypervigilance for CPTSD.
“You can access forums discussing function in day-to-day life, treatment, and post-traumatic stress disorder news and research. Supporters can connect with each other in a separate group, but they can’t read the threads.”
The option to report inappropriate or abusive posts and content is available to you, and the admins try to make sure that all members follow the rules.
- There are lots of supports and resources for people with post traumatic stress disorder.
- Specific topics to get support.
- Social community.
- It can be a bit difficult to navigate.
Best if you prefer an app
- Where it’s available: website, app
- Price: free chat support, $150/month for therapy
Text-based therapy is offered for a monthly fee of $150, but it also provides free chats and support from what they call “Listeners.”
You can access a dedicated Trauma Support forum, review frequently asked questions about trauma and PTSD, or connect with a trained Listener to talk about PTSD, or any other emotional concerns, including work issues, relationship conflict, anxiety, and depression.
“The community is active so you will be able to find people to connect with. App reviews point out that some people aren’t always helpful. Many people recommend looking at profiles and reaching out to Listeners with positive user reviews and good ratings, rather than waiting to connect with whoever is available.”
- The community is active.
- Different therapy options.
- Some of the people who listen have been helpful.
Support groups are an important part of recovery from Post Traumatic Stress.
Peer support can provide a sense of connection, safety, and comfort. Learning about the experiences of others living with PTSD can help ease feelings of isolation and loneliness. Joining a support group can also help you realize that recovery is possible, since some members may already be further along in their healing journey.
You will get other benefits with an online support group.
- Anonymity. You don’t have to use your real name or even your main email address. You can even log in from a public computer if you prefer.
- Around-the-clock support. You can log in to the message board or chat room at any time, from wherever you are in the world.
It is natural that you may be unsure which support group is best for you. To get you on the right track, here are a few things to consider.
- Format of support provided. You’ll want to consider whether you’re looking for scheduled group therapy sessions, peer-to-peer support, or a public forum.
- Affiliations. Some may be connected with reputable groups, organizations, or programs.
- Privacy. Research the measures taken to protect member confidentiality and moderate content and discussions.
- Reviews. If you’re able, check out the general experiences of current members.
- Cost. Some support groups are available for free online, while others require a membership and a monthly fee.
There are a few final details about online support groups.
Are online support groups effective?
Peer support groups can have a lot of benefits.
Research from 2015 suggests many veterans find peer support groups helpful for:
- Hope and a sense of purpose are provided.
- The symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder are normalized.
- connecting members with other people
- Improving function on a daily basis.
- Increasing trust and relationship skills.
Older research also supports the benefits of peer support for veterans. In a study of 128 male veterans living with PTSD, other veterans made up an important part of their social network. Veterans mostly found these relationships supportive — and free of the tensions they experienced in their romantic relationships.
According to a 2020 review, peer-led support groups for survivors of sexual assault and abuse seemed to help improve participants’ mental and emotional well-being. The review authors noted that while some survivors might find participation somewhat difficult, connecting with others to navigate distressing memories and painful emotions could actually promote healing.
Online groups can make support more accessible.
Is a PTSD support group right for me?
PTSD support groups offer a safe place to find anonymous support for PTSD symptoms and guidance as you work toward healing. They don’t replace therapy, though, and recovering from PTSD symptoms without professional treatment may prove difficult.
Some online groups have limited abilities to moderate. Many groups have administrators who try to make sure participants are respected.
There is a chance that some people will not follow the rules. You might also find written details of traumatic events.
“These things don’t make support groups bad, but it’s always a good idea to consider these factors before starting.”
It can be easier to share painful experiences on message boards and chat rooms. It might be easier to type out distressing memories in person than it is to say them aloud.
Do online PTSD support groups cost money?
You have options for free support if you choose to join a online support group.
Are online support groups facilitated by mental health professionals?
A therapist or mental health professional might lead certain support groups. But for the most part, online support groups don’t have any designated leaders or facilitators.
It’s typically best to avoid seeking any type of medical advice or guidance from a support group — many groups even note this in their rules. Someone might make a helpful recommendation along the lines of, “I personally found EMDR really helpful,” but it’s important to remember that not all treatments work for everyone.
Group therapy, on the other hand, is a great option for therapist-led peer support. In group therapy, you’ll attend sessions with other participants seeking help for similar symptoms.
How do I know if I should see a professional?
It is always recommended that a mental health professional supports you.
A therapist who has detailed knowledge of your situation and symptoms can help you explore techniques to address negative thoughts and teach mindfulness strategies or grounding exercises, all of which can go a long way toward improving your symptoms.
Therapists can recommend new treatment approaches and refer you to a psychiatrist if you’d like to try medication for severe symptoms.
Are PTSD support groups for spouses?
There are support groups for spouses of people with post-traumatic stress disorder. These groups may help your partner feel more supported.
MyPTSD is a great option for those looking to best support their partner or spouse.
It is possible to connect with others living with a mental illness. Support groups are usually the most beneficial when combined with professional treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.
Crystal Raypole is a writer for Healthline. Her interests include Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health. She is committed to helping decrease stigma around mental health issues. She lives in Washington with her son and cat.