Self help groups, also known as support groups, are meetings of people who are struggling with common issues. Their problems may be related to grief, addiction or other emotional distress. It's important to pick a self help group that you can identify with and that has people in similar situations. Here are some of the terms applied for various self help groups:
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) - A nationwide system of support groups that provide therapy and tools for recovery from alcohol addiction. The group's intention is to provide a sober environment where alcoholics are encouraged to stay sober. AA focuses on the principles of its founders, who developed 12 steps designed to help the mind overcome addiction.
Twelve Step - Groups based on the principles of recovery from addiction, which originated in Alcoholics Anonymous. These groups, which function similarly to AA, including Narcotics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous and many others.
Divorce Support - Self help groups composed of members struggling from a recent or current divorce. Group members counsel one another and develop ways of coping with their situations.
Grief Support - Counseling groups for people who are struggling with the death of a loved one. With support from other, sufferers of grief can form a new mindset through their struggle.
Mental Health Support - Groups composed of members with emotional or other mental disorders such as depression, obsessive compulsion and anxiety. These groups may meet in a professional psychiatric setting, such as a mental hospital or a therapy office. Or, they may be free of professional psychiatric presence altogether.
Self help groups are also called support groups. They consist of people who are suffering from the same condition or situation working together for mutual assistance.
Group therapy commonly takes place under the leadership of a psychiatrist, but self help groups often work independently. In most cases, they are recommended as an adjunct to counseling, not a substitute. Some groups are also designed, rather than to address a specific problem, to improve self esteem and develop the mind. Most consist of people recovering from a mental health problem or an addiction.
Alcoholics in particular benefit from self help groups. Programs also exist for individuals in drug rehabilitation and for those with emotional disorder. In addition to treating problems of the mind, self help groups may exist to provide counseling and support for life problems. Divorce groups are common, as are bereavement groups. Grief is a problem that often benefits from group support. In addition, groups exist for victims and survivors of diseases, especially cancer. Many groups are gender specific, given the different problems faced by men and women. Survivors of sexual abuse in particular often prefer same sex environments. Depression and anxiety support groups are also common.
Support groups provide a caring environment. They help their members develop coping and empowerment techniques. They are sometimes formal, attached to hospitals and clinics, or informal. In many cases, they are entirely organized by their members.
They are an important part of preserving and improving the mental health of individuals in difficult situations. In addition, they are proven to be useful in treating addiction.