Rational group psychotherapy. Twelve-step program

Rational group psychotherapy. Twelve-step program

The group psychotherapy provides sessions for a certain group of patients (the group should consist of no more, than 10 patients), united by common psychological and social problems. The group therapy helps to create emotional bonds between its participants, a feeling of mutual confidence and membership of a special group. All the patients are united by the problem of alcohol dependence. Within the group alcoholics start discussing personal difficulties and questions, and here they have the possibility to look at themselves from the outside.

Discussing various questions together, the patients can look at themselves in a different way, estimate their own behavior. The atmosphere of mutual respect and confidence let alcoholics create a certain lifestyle, with different (sober) attitudes and intentions; it let them believe in themselves and their own abilities.

One of the variants of group therapy is a twelve-step method.

In the year 1935, during the time of National Prohibition Act and the Great Depression, two men met with each other. For many years both of them had been suffering from alcoholism and tried to stop drinking, but without success. They began to meet with each other and communicate regularly, having used a ten-step program, created two centuries ago (at the end of 18th century in Oxford, England) by the group of philosophers- theologians, and based on Christian ethic principles. This spiritual discipline helped people to improve quickly their personal qualities. The meetings were so productive that made the two healthy. Later some other drunkards, wishing to get rid of alcoholism, joined their group. Thus the famous society called Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) came into existence. Later the program was changed so, that people of various views and traditions can use it, it was called a twelve-step program. AA is a community, which unites men and women, who share their experience, power and hopes with each other; their goal is to help themselves and the others to stop drinking. The only condition of membership is a strong desire for giving up drinking.

A twelve-step program includes the general topics, which must be clear for its members:

Step 1. We admitted that we were helpless over alcohol, and our lives had become uncontrolled.

Step 2. We came to believe - a power, which is greater than ourselves, could restore us to sanity.

Step 3. We decided to turn our will and lives over to the care of God, the way we understood Him.

Step 4. We made a searching and courageous moral inventory of ourselves.

Step 5. We admitted the exact nature of our wrongs to God, ourselves, and other humans.

Step 6. We were completely ready to let God remove all the shortcomings of our character.

Step 7. We meekly asked Him to remove our weaknesses and defects.

Step 8. We created a list of all people we had harmed, and became willing to ask for their forgiveness and to repair all the damage done to them all.

Step 9. We made direct amends to these people as far as possible, except the cases, when to do so would do harm to them or to some others.

Step 10. We continued to take personal inventory, and if we were mistaken, admitted it at once.

Step 11. We strive through prayer and meditation for improving our conscious connection with God, as we understood Him, and pray for knowledge of His will for us and the power to perform it.

Step 12. We have had a spiritual awakening in the result of these twelve steps, and we tried to give this message to alcoholics and practice the given principles in all our affairs.

The twelve-step program is considered to be a powerful tool, helping alcoholics stay sober. The general principles of Alcoholics Anonymous had proved to be so effective, that beginning from 1953 they helped also drug users, and from 1957 – gamblers. Million people all over the world have found a new way of life and got rid of drug and alcohol dependence thanks to this program. Nowadays the twelve-step program is one of the most effective methods of treatment for narcomania and alcoholism.

The AA activity is based on groups of self-care. For the person, who faced the problem of alcoholism for the first time, it is hard to find the way out by himself. Besides, people, suffering from alcoholism or narcomania, often hide their problems and therefore they are very lonely. Attending the group, they can see the same people, as themselves and sincerely share their worries. When hundreds of people unite their experiences, they get collected and can help lots of alcoholics. Working in the group with the twelve-step program, the person starts to realize, that he is living in the world, where he can ask for help, if needed. The help of people, Church and God.

According to AA tradition, group can be formed of two and more alcoholics (or drug addicts), on condition that they provide themselves without additional help from without.

AA members support each other on weekly meetings, provide individual assistance and twenty-four-hour assistance by the phone.

There are two types of group meetings: closed (for alcoholics only) and open (for any willing person). Closed meetings let their participants be more honest when talking about their feelings and worries, often painful. However many open meetings imply discussions, the majority of groups have a strict procedure for the conduct: usually they consist of speeches of the AA members, who share their own experience in struggling against alcohol abuse and their own experience of recovery.

AA meetings are characterized by confidential tone, honesty and openness. Reservedness and insincerity are usually displayed only by those, who haven’t yet confessed to their dependence on alcohol. Friendly atmosphere helps the participants feel again the almost lost self-respect and hope for finding of long-awaited sobriety.

The majority of AA members have found out, that regular attending of the meetings is of great help in their recovery. Usually they support newbies and offer them to attend meetings as often as possible.

The principles, providing survival and growth of self-help groups, are called Traditions. Twelve AA traditions mean for the community’s life as much as the twelve steps for each alcoholic, who is the member of AA.

Here they are:

  1. Our common welfare must be on the first place; as personal recovery depends on AA unity.
  2. For the purpose of our group there is the only ultimate authority - a loving God, who may express Himself in the conscience of the group. Our leaders are just servants, whom we trust; they do not command.
  3. The only requirement for becoming AA member is a strong wish to stop drinking.
  4. Every single group should be independent except in cases, which affect other groups or AA society as a whole.
  5. Each group has the only main purpose - to carry its message to those alcoholics, who are still suffering.
  6. An AA group should never support, finance, or lend the AA name to any related or outside company, for the questions of money, property, and prestige, which may distract us from our main purpose.
  7. Each AA group should be entirely self-supporting, declining outside assistance.
  8. Alcoholics Anonymous should always remain non-professional community, but our service centers are allowed to employ some qualified specialists.
  9. AA should never be carefully organized; but we may create service centers or committees, which are directly responsible to those, whom they serve.
  10. Alcoholics Anonymous doesn’t have an opinion on outside questions; therefore the name of AA must never be drawn into any public discussions.
  11. Our policy of public relations is based on attraction of our ideas, but not on their promotion; we always need to maintain the personal anonymity in our contacts with press, radio and TV.
  12. Anonymity is the spiritual basis for all our traditions, always reminding us, that principles must stay before personalities.

On the individual level anonymity guarantees, that nothing will be known about alcoholics outside the room, where the meetings take place, what is especially important for newcomers. Although in private relations the members of AA may talk about themselves as of recovering alcoholics. The principle of anonymity has a great spiritual meaning. It reminds, that the participants must prefer principles, but not personalities; they must follow the principle of true humbleness in real life. It is necessary, as all the good they have - will never spoil them, and they should always think of Him, standing above all of us, with gratitude.

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