Should we have ground rules? What are the benefits?

We recently had a question from a member who visited a group and noticed some were displayed on the resource table - they were wondering how they helped and how should we develop them.

We asked Adele Meader (our support group manager) for her ideas.


  • Hi everyone,

    Good question! A friendly, accepting atmosphere is so vital to members’ wellbeing - the group needs to be a haven for members. Having ground rules on display each session can help give a feeling of safety and respect. Ground rules are usually most effective if you develop them with the group.

    Here are some examples of some ground rules you and your members might consider:
    • Confidentiality – what is said in the group stays in the group
    • Share feelings and experiences
    • Advise wisely! Listen to one another
    • Give time to speak
    • Respect one another and remain sensitive to emotional needs
    • Refrain from using offensive language
    • We are non-judgemental!
    • Please make new members feel welcome!

    Of course, you can always add to the list. Rules serve as a gentle reminder of how to behave towards one another. They can get you out of sticky situations too - for example, if one person dominates the group or swears a lot! It’s also a good idea to have simple policies to support your group’s aim and purpose and ground rules. A couple of policies well worth having for your members to be made aware of are a code of conduct and a safeguarding policy from the NSPCC website (this is only needed if children attend your group).

    We are currently on the lookout for a good ‘code of conduct’ policy to share. Has anyone got a good policy they can recommend?

    Thank you!

  • Hello,

    I help to run a lovely group called Little Miracles Fenland in Cambridgeshire. There are a few Little Miracles branches in the area. We provide support for families of children with additional needs, disabilities and life limiting conditions. We have a list of do's and don'ts for families that come to a play session.... But have never thought about rules for parents at support group. X

  • @Emelielittlemiracles thank you for your contribution to the discussion! Good to hear about your work at Little Miracles Fenland and thanks for sharing your experience. I guess ground rules are another word for ‘dos and don’ts', but maybe do’s and don’ts is a gentler way to put it.
    @Adele_SGroupsManager thought you might be interested in Emilie's comment here.
    Thanks Alex

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