Facilitator guide

Our guide for people leading groups.


The aim of the meeting is for everyone to feel welcomed, celebrated, motivated and connected. Those who are struggling should feel supported, challenged, unstuck, leave better than when they came.

Meeting particulars

Groups ideally meet every 2 weeks, at least once monthly. 

General structure of meetings

  1. Introduction
  2. Check in with all returning members
  3. Introduce new members 
  4. Zoom in on 1-2 struggling moments
  5. Close
  6. Optional social

It’s important to note that there is no obligation for anyone to talk. They are free to just listen. During check-in and introductions, listen for struggling moment cues. Ask the member if they are willing for the group to help solve.

1. Introduction

Welcome the group, explain what will happen so new and returning members are oriented and expectant. Welcome new members by name to the group. Reiterate the house rules, principles and that if anyone is in crisis then signpost.

2. Check-in with returning members

Go around the room, asking each returning member:

  • How are you feeling?
  • What’s been going well since last time?
  • What’s not going well? / Anything you need help with from the group?
  • What are you hoping to try before we next meet?

Take a note of struggling moments for later.

3. Introduce new members

Reiterate that there is no obligation to speak today or to say more than they are comfortable saying. Only work your way down as much as the member is comfortable.

  • Please feel free to say hello to us and what brings you here today
  • What are your goals with your social anxiety?
  • What are the situations that make you feel most anxious?
  • What do you do to try to cope with your anxiety in these situations?
  • What are the things that you would like to be able to do in these situations that you are currently unable to do?
  • How is your social anxiety affecting your life?
  • What are the things that you are willing to do to improve your social anxiety?

4. Zoom in on struggling moments

As you go around the room, listen out for cues that someone is struggling – either they say they are or they use phrases such as those below. Use the questions that are most appropriate to what they said.

Identifying negative thoughts

The member specifies a particular situation in the past or future or says something that might indicate a cognitive distortion:

All-or-nothing thinking: This involves seeing things in black and white terms, with no shades of grey. For example, someone with SAD might think, “If I make one mistake, everyone will think I’m a failure.”

Overgeneralisation: This involves making sweeping conclusions based on a single event or piece of evidence. For example, someone with SAD might have one bad social interaction and then conclude, “I’m terrible at socialising. I’ll never be able to make friends.”

Mental filtering: This involves focusing on the negative aspects of a situation and ignoring the positive aspects. For example, someone with SAD might give a presentation that goes well, but they might only focus on the one mistake they made.

Disqualifying the positive: This involves dismissing positive experiences or compliments as being insignificant or due to external factors. For example, someone with SAD might be told by a friend that they are a great listener, but they might think, “They’re just being nice.”

Jumping to conclusions: This involves making assumptions without having all the facts. For example, someone with SAD might see someone else looking at them and assume that they are being judged.

Mind reading: This involves believing that you know what other people are thinking, even when you don’t have any evidence to support this belief. For example, someone with SAD might think, “Everyone can tell that I’m nervous.”

Fortune telling: This involves predicting that negative events will happen in the future, even when there is no evidence to support this prediction. For example, someone with SAD might think, “I’m going to mess up this presentation and everyone will laugh at me.”

Catastrophising: This involves making the worst possible assumptions about the consequences of a situation. For example, someone with SAD might think, “If I make a mistake in this job interview, I’ll never get another job and I’ll end up living on the streets.”

Challenging biases and negative thoughts

  • What is the one thing you are most afraid of happening in this situation?
  • If that thing happened, would it be the end of the world?
  • What is the most likely thing to happen in this situation?
  • What evidence do you have to support your fear?
  • What evidence do you have to contradict your fear?
  • What would you say to a friend who was thinking the same thing?
  • Are you (insert cognitive distortion, eg jumping to conclusions)?
  • What would a more realistic and helpful thought to have in this situation?
  • What are the benefits of facing your fear?
  • What are the costs of avoiding your fear?
  • What is the worst thing that could happen if you don’t face your fear?
  • What safety behaviours are you using in this situation?
  • How are these safety behaviours helping you?
  • How are these safety behaviours hurting you?
  • What would happen if you didn’t use these safety behaviours?

Challenging negative self-beliefs

If a member is displaying feelings of being generally low and in a slump, these questions are suited to help them think more constructively about their negative self-beliefs. 

  • If someone else felt like you do, would you judge them so harshly?
  • What would you say to a friend who held this belief about themselves?
  • Are you being kind to yourself?
  • Are you beating yourself up over something that happened once?
  • Is it realistic to expect yourself to be perfect?
  • Are you focusing on your strengths or your weaknesses?
  • Are you falling into a thought trap?
  • Are you judging yourself based on your past experiences?
  • Are you letting other people define you?

Shared principles are the glue that binds groups.

Confidence: anonymity creates a safe space.

Respect: we don’t judge.

Mutual aid: we lift others when we’re up and know others will do the same when we’re down. 

Hope: we never give up looking for it.

Self-care: we practice it and encourage others to do the same.

WalkTheTalk is not a crisis service, but we might well encounter people who are in a crisis. Here are organisations and links to provide people who might need help.