Increasing vaccination rates and the reopening of many facilities give us hope that many, if not most, SMART Recovery in-person meetings can resume/restart over the coming months.
But before you forge ahead to resume in person and possibly abandon your local online meeting, please think through the following advice from local meeting facilitators who have already restarted their in-person meetings.
- Involve your group in the decision. If it’s decided to try in-person and your previous facility is not yet available, ask the group to help explore potential locations. They may come up with locations you hadn’t thought of (for example, a firehouse meeting room).
- Realize that all members of a group may not be comfortable returning to in-person. Make sure there’s an alternative plan for them, e.g., continue a weekly Zoom meeting at a time that works for you and them. Refer participants to another nearby local online meeting that’s going to continue. Or perhaps have a co-facilitator in your group that would like to continue to offer your online meeting.
- Consider an opt-in group communications tool (closed Facebook group, private Google Group) to keep people informed. Be clear that this list is used only for SMART group information, nothing else. Over-communicate what’s happening.
- Warmer weather will allow many groups to meet outside, but be sure you’ve got a rain option and a way to post any changes to the group.
- Follow local and facility safety guidelines and your own common sense in setting up your meeting. Maintain social distance and wear masks even if most everyone has been vaccinated. As long as community spread is occurring in your community, err on the safe side.
Don’t be discouraged if you have lower attendance after returning in-person. This will improve, but may be an indication that your whole group wasn’t entirely on board.