Contents and Use of the Toolkit


This toolkit in no way can be used to diagnose or suggest specific treatment for any medical or psychological problem associated with the menopause, perimenopause or PMS.

It is essential that those running these groups refer people to their doctor if they have questions or problems that are of a medical nature.

 To the best of my knowledge all the information in the toolkit is accurate as it goes to press - and I have given details of professional organisations for leaders of new groups to contact before running the groups - to ensure there is no change in advice on the use of HRT or other medical treatments for menopause in the future.

See ‘Helpful Resources and Websites’ p205

I cannot take responsibility for any group leader giving any detailed advice of a medical nature to a group member.

The advice is clear throughout the toolkit - the group member must go and see their GP if they have any concerns about medical or psychological problems in the menopause years.



The Preface explains the rationale behind this toolkit and introduces the model of group workshops that has proved effective for me over the last 20 years in numerous different community and health settings.


The Introduction looks at why women may need help with the menopause, what help is needed and who can give the help – comparing a Medical approach with a Group approach. It shows how the toolkit can be useful, and includes advice on working with women who have different learning needs and come from different cultures and backgrounds. 

It also gives some suggestions for targeting groups of women and looks at others who need to know about how the menopause might affect the women in their organisations.


Guidelines for running menopause groups that can be fun and successful deals with all you need to know for preparing and running these groups, though it is always useful if facilitators have done some specific training in group work. It’s really important for facilitators to read the material well before the group and make it clear that they are not menopause specialists but refer women with problems on to the GP.
The toolkit has also been used successfully by Self-help groups, where women take it in turns to prepare and run each session. It’s a very helpful tool for professionals too.


The toolkit is divided into eight 2 hour sessions  – six of which are focused on the menopause and later life.

Session 5 and 6 deal with “Living with Hormone swings” - Session 5 PMS and Session 6 Perimenopause. This term, while strictly meaning “time around the menopause”, is usually used for the time leading up to the menopause - which can often be more troublesome than menopause itself!


All session plans follow a Session Template - which should ensure you arrive at the group with everything you need - and don’t forget anything important during the session.  Refreshment time is not included in the session plan.

Session Template
Introductions                                            If Appropriate
Name stickers and felt pens                         “          “
Icebreaker                                                  “          “
Groundrules and confidentiality – Remind group and pin up paper from previous                                                                                  session if agreed already
Refreshments – at start or half way through - time not included in 2 hour session
Aim of the session
Introduction to the session
Running the session
Activity A,B, C
Worksheets or activity materials
Answer and discussion points sheet
Pens, paper
Flipchart or A3 pad for feedback
Post-it notes for Thorns and Roses evaluation
Main points to be learned in each activity or session -  use to summarise the session
Other issues that might come up
Other services or agencies that might be relevant
Handouts and/or leaflets from other relevant agencies
“What other women shared ...” sheets to read out or give out at end
For next time
Remind re date and time
Any thoughts or things for people to bring to the next session
Evaluation – If appropriate
Time for 1-to-1 chats if needed

At the end of each session plan there will be :-

All sessions are interactive – with multicultural photos, activities and handouts.


In order to understand the activities properly it’s useful to do the activities yourself while preparing the session, and before reading the answer and discussion points sheet.

This will also allow you to check the timings that you feel will be appropriate for your group and adjust the session plan accordingly.

It is possible to take longer over the sessions if you have an ongoing group or are working with people with learning or language difficulties.


If you feel there is too much sitting and writing in a session for your particular group change the format by writing the quiz questions on big sheets of paper and get the group to move round the room in small groups contributing their answers to the big sheets with big coloured felt pens.

They can be given the answer sheets to go through themselves if you like - and wind up the session with a brief feedback and summary.


It is also possible to combine activities from several sessions into an evening, a half day, day or weekend – bearing in mind the time that each activity is likely to take. See Appendix 3.

It’s always better to discuss the whole menopause experience and self help for symptoms before the information on treatments, as self help will last a life-time, whereas treatments will have to be stopped at some point - maybe with distressing results.


The Session plans and answer sheets have been written so you can read them directly to the group or you can use your own words.


Aim of the session
This gives a brief overview of the main aim or aims of each session. It can just be used for the facilitators information - or it can be read to the group at the start of the session and then discussed at the end to ensure that the session has dealt with the topic/s adequately.


Main points to be learned from each activity or session

These are given on the session plans and can be used to check that each idea has been dealt with at some point during the activity or session.
A selection from them could be read out, or put into your own words, as a way of reminding people of the most important points and rounding off the session.
Include as well any points the group has made which are not in the notes and which you know to be relevant and accurate.


Use of the photos
If you are working from a PDF download, DVD or CD try and make sure the photos for session 1 are printed well - preferably on photo paper.

If you have access to a laminating machine it will prolong the life of the photos if you can have them laminated.


Going with the flow

I find that thorough preparation combined with “going with the flow” in the session allows me to respond to the mood and needs of the group – and the handouts should reinforce the session’s messages and contain any information you may have left out.

I always forget at least one thing I wanted to say to the group!


Session Plans

  • 1) Experiencing the “Change of Life”.

Using Photos from “Rollercoasting through the Menopause Years” photo exhibition as triggers for discussion of women’s experiences at this stage of life

  • 2) Menopause Symptoms and Self-Help Solutions

Focusing on symptoms, lifestyle and self help options

  • 3) Medical treatments for Menopause and osteoporosis

HRT and Medical alternatives to HRT, Osteoporosis

  • 4) Introduction to Complementary Therapies

and visit from a Complementary Therapist.   Looking at different approaches to health care and seeing which therapies are known to help with Menopause

  • 5) Living with Hormone Swings - 1 PMS

Self -help and treatment options

  • 6) Living with Hormone Swings - 2 Perimenopause

Self -help and treatment options

  • 7) Managing stress in our lives

Facing the realities of our stress - and finding options for coping better

  • 8) Women growing older - with fun & meaning in their lives

Who are our older women role models?   How do we get in touch with our “real” self and live a fulfilling life?


Visual and spoken instructions for group activities

If the group is not using a written worksheet it’s useful to write the instructions for the activity on the flip chart and leave them visible during the activity as some people need to see things visually to take them in fully and won’t necessarily remember spoken instructions.

If you can’t get hold of a flip chart easily a hard-backed A3 drawing pad will work fine in a small group setting.


Timings are offered for each activity as it can be very frustrating for you and the group not to have time to finish a session properly.

If you’re not good at time-keeping get your colleague to do it or set a quiet alarm for each activity.


Permission to photocopy the handouts and give them out at the end of each session is inherent in the pack - on the understanding that they are used intact and not altered in any way.

Useful contacts and references can be found at the end of the pack for background reading or in order to answer questions from the group for which you may not know the answer.

Any such answers can be given at the next session – or the woman should be referred to their GP, Practice Nurse or local Menopause clinic if it’s a personal medical question.
When you have read the pack through and before running the sessions - contact one of the professional organisations (see Useful contacts and references section) to check if there are any recent updates or changes in advice about HRT, other medical treatments or osteoporosis management.