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Article   |    
A Conceptual Framework for Understanding Self-Help Groups
Lloyd E. Rootes; David L. Aanes
Psychiatric Services 1992; doi:
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Fergus Falls Regional Treatment Center, Box 157, Fergus Falls, Minnesota 56538

1992 by the American Psychiatric Association

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Although self-help groups are recognized as an important part of the continuum of services in the mental health system, confusion about what constitutes a self-help group remains. The authors outline seven criteria for defining the self-help group and differentiating it from other types of groups, such as advocacy or support groups. Self-help groups are distinguished by their supportive and educational aims, focus on a single life-disrupting event, primary purpose of supporting personal change, anonymous and confidential nature, voluntary membership, member leadership, and absence of a profit orientation. Eight basic principles underlying successful self-help groups are discussed, including the shared experience of members, their acceptance of responsibility for themselves, and their commitment to personal change.

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