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What kind of support do YOU need?

Interpersonal relationships and the support we receive from the people in our lives determine our health and well-being.

Various studies have shown that social support is a protective factor against stressors. So much so that the mere perception of having social support has been found to affect our well-being positively [1].

Despite this and the fact that we know how important social support is, we do not always talk about it and very rarely know that there is more than one type of social support. For this reason, below, I present the three types of support that exist [2]:

> Emotional.

This type of support can be found in behaviours and words that help people feel understood, supported or cared for. An example of this would be:

  • Giving a word of encouragement.

  • Listening to someone.

  • Being with a person that's going through a rough moment.

> Informational.

Informational support consists of providing advice, information or suggestions on how to deal with a particular situation. A simple example would be to direct people to specific sources of information and help, such as recommending a type of treatment, a professional, or an institution.

> Practical.

Practical support are concrete actions such as accompanying someone to an appointment or helping repair an object. Also, within this support, we include lending objects/tools or providing resources such as money.

Recognising the different types of support and identifying who can provide us with this support within our support network is crucial to avoid getting frustrated when asking people for help they cannot/are not willing to provide.

That is why I want to present the following chart (and adaptation of the one provided by Gruenewald & Seeman, 2010) to help you visually organize your support network according to the types of support they can provide. The idea is that you locate the people closest to you within the inner circle. Those who are not that close should appear in the outer ring.

Let me know in the comments if you were aware of the different types of support and what you discover when working on your social support diagram.

Sweet dreams!



  1. Gruenewald, T.L. & Seeman, T.E. (2010). Social Support and Physical Health: Links and Mechanisms. In A. Steptoe (Eds) Handbook of Behavioral Medicine: Methods and Applications (pp. 225 – 236). Springer.

  2. Satterfield, J.M. (2008). A Cognitive-Behavioral Approach to the Beginning of the End of Life, Minding the Body: Facilitator Guide. Oxford University Press.

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