What is a Self-Help Group?

By Kate S. Ahmadi

Support and Information Groups

Another type of self-help group focuses on medical diseases or problems. Examples of such groups that help families include AFTER AIDS (for people who have lost a loved one to AIDS), Candlelighters (for parents of young children with cancer), Make Today Count (for persons with cancer and their families), Mended Hearts, Inc. (for persons recovering from heart surgery, and their family and friends), the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (for families and friends of persons with serious mental illness), National Federation of the Blind (for blind persons and their families), and National Society for Children and Adults with Autism (for children with autism and their families).

The Compassionate Friends (for bereaved parents), Parents Without Partners (for single parents and their children), and Tough Love (providing support and mutual problem solving for parents troubled by teenage behavior) are examples of other types of family-oriented groups.

Many of these organizations have other services in addition to self-help groups, such as information and referral, advocacy and lobbying, grant funding, research support, and practical assistance (e.g., providing hospital beds for home care).

Conclusion

Leonard D. Borman (1992, p. xxv) has written that “the underlying mechanism” of the self-help group is love, “a selfless caring.” However, dangers that the self-help “movement” must guard against include dependence, victim-blaming, antiprofessionalism, further medicalization, and co-optation by the medical system.

Nevertheless, Victor W. Sidel and Ruth Sidel (1976, p. 67) have called self-help groups “the grassroots answer to our hierarchical, professionalized society,” to its alienation and depersonalization.

(See also: Codependency; Dysfunctional Family; Social Networks; Substance Abuse)

BIBLIOGRAPHY

“According to a Gallup Poll.” (1992). The Self-Help Reporter (Summer):1.

Al-Anon. (1981). This is Al-Anon: Al-Anon Family Groups. New York: Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters.

Alcoholics Anonymous. ([1939] 1976). Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism. New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Service.

Bartalos, M. K. (1992). “Illness, Professional Caregivers, and Self-Helpers.” In Self-Help: Concepts and Applications, ed. A. H. Katz, H. L. Hedrick, D. H. Isenberg, L. M. Thompson, T. Goodrich, and A. H. Kutscher. Philadelphia: Charles Press.

Borman, L. D. (1979). “Characteristics of Development and Growth.” In Self-Help Groups for Coping with Crisis, ed. M. A. Lieberman and L. D. Borman. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Borman, L. D. (1992). “Introduction: Self-Help/Mutual Aid Groups in Strategies for Health.” In Self-Help: Concepts and Applications, ed. A. H. Katz, H. L. Hedrick, D. H. Isenberg, L. M. Thompson, T. Goodrich, and A. H. Kutscher. Philadelphia: Charles Press.

Gartner, A., and Riessman, F., eds. (1977). Self-Help in the Human Services. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Gottlieb, B. H., ed. (1983). Social Networks and Social Support. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

Kasl, C. D. (1992). Many Roads, One Journey: Moving Beyond the Twelve Steps. New York: HarperCollins.

Katz, A. H. (1979). “Self-Help Health Groups: Some Clarifications.” Social Science and Medicine 13A:491–494.

Katz, A. H. (1993). Self-Help in America: A Social Movement Perspective. New York: Twayne.

Katz, A. H.; Hedrick, H. L.; Isenberg, D. H.; Thompson, L. M.; Goodrich, T.; and Kutscher, A. H. (1992). Self-Help: Concepts and Applications. Philadelphia: Charles Press.

Mullan, F. (1992). “Rewriting the Social Contract in Health.” In Self-Help: Concepts and Applications, ed. A. H. Katz, H. L. Hedrick, D. H. Isenberg, L. M. Thompson, T. Goodrich, and A. H. Kutscher. Philadelphia: Charles Press.

Parents Anonymous. (1993). Hope for Our Future. Los Angeles: Author.

Riessman, F. (1965). “The ‘Helper’ Therapy Principle.” Social Work 10:27–32.

“Sharing Solutions: A Lighthouse Conference.” (1992). The Self-Help Reporter (Summer):4.

Sidel, V. W., and Sidel, R. (1976). “Beyond Coping.” Social Policy 7:67–69.

Silverman, P. R. (1992). “Critical Aspects of the Mutual Help Experience.” In Self-Help: Concepts and Applications, ed. A. H. Katz, H. L. Hedrick, D. H. Isenberg, L. M. Thompson, T. Goodrich, and A. H. Kutscher. Philadelphia: Charles Press.

Stewart, M. J. (1990). “Professional Interface with Mutual-Aid Self-Help Groups: A Review.” Social Science and Medicine 31:1143–1158.

 

APA Reference
Ahmadi, K. (2007). What is a Self-Help Group?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-a-self-help-group/0001280
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    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
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