Episode 218: The Power of the Group

In this episode, Angela and I talk about what makes a 12-Step group unique and effective. Our conversation is based on a chapter from the book, The Alternative Twelve Steps: A Secular Guide to Recoveryby Martha Cleveland, PhD., and Arlys G.

What we talked about

The uniqueness of 12-Step groups.
• Each person works a self-directed program. There is no facilitator or professional leader.
• Members of the group focus on the process of the Steps and their own recovery.
• The relationship among members is respectful, caring, and impartial.

A shared solution is more important than a shared problem. 
• Steps are the focus.

Guided by the Twelve Traditions.

A simple format and guidelines for talking and listening.
• Anyone can step into chairing a meeting.

The group process is how we talk and listen. 
• We try not to be good role models and not engage in the behaviors from which we are recovering.
• When a person shares in a meeting, they are responsible for themselves, not the group.
• We don’t need others to agree with us or understand us.
• Confusion and strong feelings are always welcomed.
• We listen to others without judgment or expressing our opinion.
• Any opinion we form is only applied to ourselves.
• We practice large listening or detached listening. It is detached from our personal emotions and judgments.
• Being heard and accepted without judgment is helpful as we can say what we want and work things out.

We each have different ways of working the program.
• Interpretations and ways of working the Steps vary widely.
• The only concern we have is how we understand the Steps and how we apply them to our lives.
• Members are in different phases of development and will focus on different issues. Helps us to learn from each other.

The look and feel of a supportive group.
• The group is open and newcomers are immediately welcomed.
• The group feels like a safe place. We feel an emotional comfort within the group.
• Emotions are genuine and natural.
• People are free to be as open or as private as they choose. Respect for privacy is crucial.
• The group makes good use of time.
• Everyone has equal status.
• There is a feeling of mutual respect. No competition among members.
• It is not apparent which members have social or other connections outside the group.
• When a member is having a hard time or making bad decisions, the group doesn’t interfere.
• Members work on an active program in the group. No presentations of a polished program.
• No feedback is given unless asked.
• The Twelve Traditions are honored.

When we keep coming back.
• Each of us is in charge of our own program. The group doesn’t direct us.
• We determine our own realities and our own directions.
• A healthy group supports us, no matter our point of view.
• We can support others with a wide range of different points of view.