Q. What are the different types of online groups I can join?

A.

Just like support groups that meet face-to-face, there are several different kinds of support groups that “meet” in cyberspace:

Chat Group – In online chat, the conversation takes place in real-time, which means that when you type in a message, the other members of the group see it instantly and can respond. A chat group is usually held at a specific time and day.

Listserv – This kind of group allows its members to email each other with questions and comments. Because emails are automatically sent to everyone on the list, the number of messages you receive each day can sometimes be high.

Message board – CancerCare offers this type of support group, which features a specific online website, accessible only to members, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, where people can write comments and questions, and read and respond to others members. A message board is more flexible, as members can post whenever it’s most convenient for them.

Because participating in an online group is anonymous, some people find it a bit impersonal and prefer meeting face-to-face. Other people may prefer the anonymity and feel more at ease sharing with others.