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Self-Help Groups

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Self-Help Groups

Adam is recovering from the traumatic life he has lived the last ten years due to his alcohol addiction. He has received professional help but feels as if he needs something to hold himself accountable. His therapist suggests that he begin attending a twelve-step self-help group called Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). In AA, Adam realizes he is not alone; there are many others who have similar experiences.

By attending the self-help group, Adam celebrates 90 days clean, and becomes an advocate for others in need of help in their recovery.

  • What are self-help groups?
  • We'll look at what self-help groups can do for mental health.
  • We'll study some examples of self-help groups.
  • Then we'll consider the benefits of self-help groups.
  • Finally, we'll consider the differences between cooperatives and self-help groups.

Definition of Self-Help Groups

A self-help group is a small community of people who meet together on a regular basis to gain and provide support in overcoming a common issue or occurrence. Self-help groups can benefit people with a wide variety of struggles. Individuals with mental health concerns, substance abuse concerns, non-substance addictions, facing grief or loss, or a history of trauma, can usually find a self-help group for local support.

Self-help groups are often free or donation-based, giving people that do not have access to therapy or professional care a chance to heal and share experiences. It is important to note that self-help groups are not a replacement for professional guidance when struggling, but rather a tool to enhance one's well-being that can be used with or without therapy.

Self-help groups are extremely effective in giving people the opportunity to create connections with community members going through similar hardships. Often led by a peer who has experienced the same struggle as the group members, community members are offered a chance to share and listen to other people's stories. Sharing with each other in the group is voluntary and never required. Self-help groups have become widely available not only in person, but also online.

Self-help Groups, picture of person sharing in a group, StudySmarterSupport group, pixabay.com

Examples of Self-Help Group

Self-help groups are available for many different challenges that someone may face. Depending on the individual, they might choose or be advised to attend a twelve-step program, support group, or an online self-help group.

Twelve-Step Programs

Self-help groups revolving around addiction are usually part of the twelve-step program. The twelve-step program is used by individuals in recovery to achieve abstinence from addictive substances. Popular examples of the twelve-step programs include Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Other examples include Sexaholics Anonymous (SA), Overeaters Anonymous (OA), Emotions Anonymous (EA), and many more.

Twelve-step programs usually involve sharing stories amongst peers and having a sponsor who checks in with you frequently to ensure you are on the right track to recovery. Twelve-step programs focus on recovery and connecting with a higher power, which may be new to people who do not already practice a spiritual lifestyle.

Sponsor: A mentor who has been a part of the twelve-step program for a longer period of time, usually recovering from the same addiction as the person they are mentoring.

In this kind of self-help group, members remain anonymous. They give their first names when sharing and attending meetings. Twelve-step programs are often vigorous and sometimes push for daily attendance when first starting. By attending these meetings, members focus on overcoming obstacles to achieving abstinence and connecting with others for social support.

Support Groups

Traditional self-help groups are known as support groups. In these, there is a wider range of topics and struggles that can be addressed. These groups usually hold bi-weekly or monthly in-person meetings to create a sense of community. Mental health issues, addiction, and grieving the loss of loved ones are frequently addressed in support groups. These groups are usually led by a mental health professional rather than a peer.

Online Self-Help Groups

Online self-help groups are a great alternative for people seeking a place to hear and share stories. Online groups are great for those who cannot attend in-person groups due to time constraints, mobility issues, or busy schedules. Attendance for online self-help groups varies; some groups allow people to share anything at any time of the day, while some meet over a video chat or call at a specific time. These types of groups may feel more like a safe space for those who are anxious in group settings, or have suffered from severe traumatic experiences.

Benjamin suffers from extreme depression due to the loss of his wife and children. Benjamin had begun to consider attending a self-help group as well as continuing his professional treatment. In Benjamin's case, he is most likely to benefit from a traditional support group for grieving people. It might help him to begin attending a group online as a starting point to help motivate him to attend a group in person.

Self-help Group, clip art of a group of diverse people, StudySmarterGroup support, pixabay.com

Benefits of Self-Help Groups

Self-help groups have a wide range of benefits. Many people who take part in them often feel positively impacted. Most importantly, the biggest benefit of self-help groups is having support from a community that can empathize with your hardships.

Attending a group can improve someone's day and life by being able to talk openly and honestly, listen to others, and share feelings. Self-help groups are non-judgemental and completely voluntary, giving people the opportunity to share only when they feel comfortable. By sharing and creating connections, people can create deep, long-lasting friendships that are meaningful and impactful. Attending a self-help group may help to lower overall stress levels.

Self-Help Groups for Mental Health

Self-help groups can be a great mental health resource for someone who is struggling with a mental disorder rather than an addiction. Professionals might suggest self-help groups for those who have been diagnosed with a specific illness or disorder to gain support. Self-help groups for mental health do not always focus on recovery, as some mental health disorders are not able to be reversed. Rather, the group will focus on improvement and learning to live with and better understand the disorder.

Examples of self-help groups for mental health include general wellbeing, coping with stress, general anxiety, social anxiety, depression, coping with a terminal illness, grief and loss, and many more.

Difference between Cooperatives and Self-Help Groups

Self-help groups are often free or donation-based, which is appealing to those who cannot afford professional guidance or wish to have a free alternative. They are made up of many different people from different walks of life.

Cooperatives, on the other hand, are of a higher standard and usually have more up-to-date or in-depth resources, due to better funding. They are also business-based, meaning that the people who attend are usually part of the same company or institution. They can still be helpful, though, as they are often given funds to help people who are struggling financially.

Self-Help Groups - Key takeaways

  • A self-help group is a small community of people who meet together on a regular basis, to gain support for a common issue or occurrence.
    • Self-help groups are available for people struggling with mental health issues, substance abuse, addiction problems, grief and loss, etc.
    • Self-help groups are often free/donation-based and are peer-led
  • Twelve-step programs, support groups, and online self-help groups are all different forms of self-help groups.
  • Online groups are great for those who cannot attend in-person groups due to time restraints, mobility limitations, or busy schedules.
  • Examples of self-help groups for mental health include general wellbeing, coping with stress, general anxiety, social anxiety, depression, coping with a terminal illness, grief and loss, and many more.
  • Cooperatives are of a higher standard, and usually have more up-to-date or in-depth resources due to better funding.

Frequently Asked Questions about Self-Help Groups

A self-help group is a small community of people who meet together on a regular basis particularly to gain support in a common issue or occurrence.

Self-help groups are extremely effective in giving people the opportunity to create connections with community members going through similar hardships.

Examples of self-help groups include twelve-step programs, support groups, or online self-help groups.

Self-help groups work by community members meeting to share their experiences and stories with each other for general support.

Self-help groups are useful in making someone feel less alone and able to relate to others. Self-help groups provide personal accountability, as well as a community to share deeper feelings that outsiders may not understand.

Final Self-Help Groups Quiz

Question

Define "self-help group".

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Answer

A small community of people who meet together on a regular basis to gain support in a common issue or occurrence.

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Who are self-help groups good for?

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Individuals struggling with their mental health, substance abuse, addiction problems, grieving, etc.

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True or false? Self-help groups often require a yearly fee. 


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False

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Self-help groups are often ___ ___ giving community members the chance to share and listen to other people's stories that might relate to them.

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Answer

peer-led

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True or false? Sharing experiences in support groups is required. 

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False

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Question

What are the three main types of self-help groups?

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Answer

Twelve-step programs, support groups, and online self-help groups.

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Which type of self-help group can people remain anonymous in, by only revealing their first name?

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Answer

Twelve-step programs

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Question

A mentor who has been a part of the 12-step program for a longer period of time, usually recovering from the same addiction, is called a _______.

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Answer

Sponsor

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These groups usually hold bi-weekly or monthly in-person meetings to create a sense of community.

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Answer

Traditional support groups

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The biggest benefit of self-help groups is:

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Having support from a community that can empathize with a deeper understanding, due to the similarity in their hardships.

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True or false? Self-help groups are only appropriate for people struggling with addiction.

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False

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Self-help groups for people struggling with mental health can include:

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Groups to do with general wellbeing, coping with stress, general anxiety, social anxiety, depression, coping with a terminal illness, grievance, and many more.

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___________ are of a higher standard and usually have more up-to-date or in-depth resources due to better funding.


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Answer

 Cooperatives

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_____ ______ are great for those who cannot attend in-person groups due to time restraints or busy schedules.

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Answer

Online groups

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Question

What is a good type of self-help group for someone who struggles with social anxiety?


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Answer

Online self-help groups

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How does the price of self-help groups differentiate it from one-on-one therapy?

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Self-help groups are often free which allows people to have access to therapy who would not have been able to access it before

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Can self-help groups be done online?

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Answer

Yes

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What issue do self-help groups usually focus on?

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Answer

Trick question! They can cover a wide variety of issues such as mental health concerns, substance abuse concerns, non-substance addictions, facing grief or loss, or a history of trauma. 

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Question

What is not a twelve-step program?

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Answer

They are all twelve-step programs

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What might be offputting for some people about a twelve-step program?

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Answer

There is a focus on connecting with a higher power which some people might not relate with

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Which group usually meets more often, twelve-step programs or support groups?

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Answer

Twelve-step programs

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Which of these programs is led by a mental health professional?

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Answer

Twelve-step programs

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True or false? Online self-help groups have specific meeting times like in-person self-help groups. 

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Answer

True, but there are also online self-help groups where people can share at any time of the day

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What is a perk of self-help groups being inexpensive or free?

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Answer

Attendance is purely voluntary, which means the people who go truly want to be there and get help

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Question

Why don't all mental health disorder self-help groups focus on recovery?

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Answer

Not all mental health disorders are able to be fully recovered from

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What is not an example of a self-help group for someone struggling with their mental health?

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Answer

Social anxiety

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What is the difference in payment between self-help groups and cooperatives?

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Self-help groups are free and cooperatives are paid for by the company the people work for

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What is the difference in clientele between self-help groups and cooperatives?

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Self-help groups consist of strangers and cooperatives are all people who work for the same company

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What is the difference in resources between self-help groups and cooperatives?

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Since self-help groups are funded based on donations, they don't have access to the same resources as business-funded cooperatives do

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Are self-help groups effective?

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Answer

Self-help groups are extremely effective in giving people the opportunity to create connections with community members going through similar hardships.

Show question

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