Self Help and Improvement
Nobody’s perfect. Reflecting that premise are the numerous self help and improvement guides found everywhere. They focus on subjects geared to advance one economically, intellectually, or emotionally and most have a psychological base. Self-help often utilizes publicly available information or support groups where people with like problems join together.
Support groups became popular because they provide attributes often lacking with singular professional assistance such as friendship,emotional support, personal identity and a sense of belonging. Groups with health conditions may consist of patients and caregivers while other self-help groups can be considered more as peer-to-peer support.
The term "self-help" began appearing in the 1800s, but was meant mostly in a legal context, referring to parties in a dispute having the right to use legal action on their own initiative. But, by the beginning of the 21st century, "the self-improvement industry” was claimed to have an annual worth of over a two billion dollars.
A popular tool for many support groups is the 12-step approach. This method uses a set of guiding principles accepted by group members as having a spiritual foundation and outlines a course of action for recovery from addictions, compulsions, or other problems. Recovery is focused mainly on several areas: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is credited with being the first to use it as a method of recovery from alcoholism.
Where other twelve-step groups have used AA’s steps principles, they are usually altered to emphasize specific aims to those particular fellowships. AA isthe largest twelve-step program, followed by Narcotics Anonymous and Al-Anon. Al-Anon assists family members and friends of people with problems.
The majority however, concentrate on illnesses other than addiction. Only about 20% of twelve-step programs are for addiction. The rest tackle problems ranging from debt to depression.
There are some who believe support group themselves can be addictive because some members attend weekly meetings for years following their success. However there are no studies to confirm this accusation and experts view it as extremely unlikely.