, Gloucester, MA


March 8, 2013

The healing power of support groups

Whether you’re struggling to recover from a broken marriage, conquer an addiction, manage anxiety, or cope with another devastating trauma, you might benefit by gathering with others who are currently coping with, or who have survived similar struggles.

Support groups exist in many venues relative to many issues, offering empathy, hope and coping strategies for many human challenges. Their most obvious advantage in the healing process is the powerful evidence of their members, that you are not alone. Whatever the source of your pain and fear, someone else has been there, and suffered similarly. Group members voluntarily share experiences and information. They risk revealing their own vulnerabilities to help others like themselves.

Above all, the groups provide support in a non-threatening, safe setting, encouraging uncensored expression of feelings and fears. In most groups, members pledge not to reveal what they hear, learn to listen compassionately, and respond honestly, kindly, and with unconditional acceptance.

The oldest organized support group, one of the most successful, and certainly the most copied, is Alcoholics Anonymous’s Twelve Step Program. It has been adapted for use by groups treating just about every addiction or emotional problem in the human catalog. Its unique secret may be its focus on members’ achieving personal growth, maturity and integrity through some sort of spiritual awakening.

Much AA language, which other groups often borrow, sounds traditionally religious and can put some people off. However, “spiritual awakening” does not always mean a “born again” religious conversion. It refers to a growth in knowledge and understanding of oneself and others, and life as people live it, day by day. It refers to a newfound ability to let go of resentment and anger, or the need to control others. It signifies a willingness to change, to take responsibility for healing oneself, to replace old habits of blame and shame with generous empathy or loving detachment.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

Your news, your way
Pictures of the Week
Comments Tracker
AP Entertainment Videos
Adam Levine Launches Clothing Line for Women Paul Wesley Sinks His Teeth Into Directing Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant Josh Thompson Streams Album to Hook New Fans Franco Leads Star-studded Broadway Cast ShowBiz Minute: Singer, Young, Poehler Sparks Fly With Derulo and Jordin on New Album Nas Movie Opens Tribeca Film Festival Zooey Deschanel Adds Designing to Her Repertoire Miley Cyrus Still in Hospital, Cancels 2nd Show 'Half of a Yellow Sun' Hits the Big Screen Diaz Gets Physical for New Comedy Swift's Bus Drives Into Country Hall of Fame ShowBiz Minute: Cyrus, Walker, Combs Pedro Pascal Plays 'Game of Thrones'' Red Viper Deeley Shows Acting Chops in Hulu's 'Deadbeat' Ora Strips Efron at MTV Awards ShowBiz Minute: MTV Awards, Lopez, Royals Stars Hit Red Carpet for MTV Movie Awards Conan Backs Colbert, Hosts MTV Movie Awards