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).
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)
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
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