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Circle of Friends

Circle of Friends® was Developed by scholars/practitioners at the Central Union for the Welfare of the Aged at Helsinki University in the early 2000s. It is a group rehabilitation model for older people, who experience loneliness from time to time or perhaps every day. The aim is to alleviate and prevent loneliness.

The group of 8 meets 12 times in 3 months and the purpose of the group is for the participants to:

  • Make new friends

  • Feel less lonely

  • Share the feelings of loneliness

  • Do and experience meaningful things together with other group members

  • Help the groups to become self-supportive and encourage them to continue meeting on their own.

  •  A group-based, goal-oriented intervention in which participants are allowed to influence the content of the meetings.

Evidence that Circle of Friends Works

Evidence that Circle of Friends® works:

  • Randomized control trial of 235 older adults 75+ years at 2 years post-intervention (Pitkäla et al., 2009; 2011):
    • 97% survival (90% for Adult Day Services control group) Increased subjective health, decreased health care costs and hospitalizations

    • 2.5% drop-out rate

    • 6 of 15 original groups continued meeting

    • Improved cognition

  • 117 community-dwelling persons 75+ (Routasalo et al., 2008; 2009; Savikko et al., 2009):
    • 95% reported no more loneliness

    • 45% - 85% made new friends

    • 40% continued meeting

    • Increased feelings of being needed (meaningful activities and meaning to life) and psychological well-being

    • Improved cognition (even at 1-year post-intervention)—comparable to anticholinergic inhibitor


Available Groups in St. Louis, Missouri

Saint Louis University’s Center for Counseling and Family Therapy (CCFT) is starting a new group geared towards seniors (Age 65+) in need of more social support and connection in their community. The group will be initially structured on a 12-week, once a week basis, facilitated online with two facilitators. After 12 weeks, the group  members will have the option to continue meeting online or have facilitated sessions. Group members are welcome to invite other individuals who may benefit from the group. Call us at 314-977-9759 or email for any questions you have.

Facilitator Training Available

We are offering an asynchronous webinar presented which addresses loneliness in older people and interventions to help them cope. 

View Webinars

After viewing the webinar please complete the evaluation.

Complete the Evaluation

If you have any questions for the presenters please email them to and their response will be emailed back to you. If you would like to have a Certificate of Completion, please send a request to and a certificate will be emailed within 30 days.

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number U1QHP28716 Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program for $750,000. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government.