Finding Strength and Empowerment with Self-Help Groups
While many mental health professionals encourage you to turn to others for the specific help you need, an entire industry has evolved based on the premise that the solutions and answers you’re seeking can all be found within a single source: your “self.” Fueled by the belief that all lasting, substantial changes stem from within, self-help groups have sprung up to assist people suffering from a host of problems, ranging from the serious to the more mundane. Self-help groups and self-help books and meetings have become enormously popular for a number of different reasons:
- Self-help groups embrace the specific needs of the individual with the strength in numbers of people facing similar struggles.
- Self-help strategies embrace “simple” concepts that can have a profound impact on problems of every magnitude.
- Self-help solutions strengthen the individual to take ownership of the issues and seek resolution through action, not reaction.
Self-Help Groups: Strength in Numbers
While the various self-help options available make it possible to achieve significant breakthroughs all by yourself, some people prefer to find their personal freedom in self-help groups. Although less times is invested dealing with each particular individual, the collective membership will often work together to brainstorm creative and unique strategies, to obtain fresh perspectives on old issues and to increase the accountability factor. While a “Lone Ranger” can fall off the wagon without anyone knowing or caring, in a self-help group, there are others waiting to lift you up when or if you fall. Self-help groups include the traditional “12 Step Programs” that aid in battling addictions of all sorts, as well as support groups for individuals suffering from illnesses or other issues relevant to health.
Furthermore, self-help groups have grown beyond dealing with health “problems” to those that address and assist those with common concerns or circumstances, like women who have decided to breast-feed, those who are single and even parenting groups. Finally, there are family self-help groups that can help the loves ones and relatives of those dealing with serious issues like alcoholism, drug addiction, those dealing with long-term or terminal illnesses, etc.
Not only do self-help groups offer strength in numbers, they have also increasingly come to offer greater convenience than previously imagined. Today, not only do attendees have the option of face-to-face meetings and group events, but some also hold meetings online or over the phone to address the needs of those with busy schedules, those who are virtually bed-ridden, or those who are “shut ins.”
The Benefits of Self-Help Group Meetings
In addition to offering convenience, the other attractive feature of self-help groups and meetings is that they are much more affordable than private counseling or therapies. Some are totally free and others are offered for nominal fees that just about anyone can afford to pay. Many of the most popular self-help programs that are available are so popular that even small, more rural communities offer multiple meetings in various locations all throughout the week and month. Plus, with the advent of online self-help groups, there is even greater anonymity and the relief of other concerns like discrimination, etc. that might arise in traditional face-to-face encounters.
In addition to convenience and cost, other benefits of self-help group situations are that you are imbued with a greater sense of belonging and community. Since many of the maladies that lead people to find help in a self-help group are issues that make you feel isolated and alone, this sense of community can go to great lengths towards helping individuals find freedom and recovery.
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