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Beyond AA: Discover Six Support Groups You’ve Never Heard Of

Amanda Gregory, LCPC, EMDR Practitioner

Have you ever considered attending a support group? Many people find support groups to be helpful when they are facing a variety of issues, such as substance use, trauma, and mood regulation. These groups are usually led by volunteers and are often offered at no cost to participants. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotic Anonymous (NA) are examples of well-known support groups, but there are many more that you might not have heard of.

Here are a few peer support groups for people working through specific issues:

Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (ASCA) is a support group designed for adults who experienced neglect or physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse as children. This group uses a three-stage Recovery Framework with 21 steps. ASCA was created by The Norma J. Morris Center, which wrote a manual for participants that is available online, titled Survivor to Thriver. According to ASCA, meetings are designed to provide a safe place where participants can share their feelings and thoughts about their recovery.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) organizes groups for people who have been diagnosed with a mood disorder or who believe they might have a mood disorder, as well as their family members and friends. DBSA states that groups give participants the opportunity to reach out and benefit from the experience of others who have been there; motivate participants to follow their treatment plan; help participants to understand that a mood disorder does not define who they are; help participants to rediscover their own strengths and humor; and provide a forum for mutual acceptance, understanding, and self-discovery.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) provides support groups for individuals living in recovery with a mental health condition as well as their family and friends. These groups are facilitated by trained volunteers who have personal experience living with mental illness or have a family member living with mental illness. Some local chapters also have groups for parents of youths with mental illness.

Recovery International (RI) also provides groups for people experiencing mental health issues. RI was developed by Abraham Low, MD. RI reports that its groups are based on a cognitive behavioral training method that helps members learn to identify and manage negative thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and behaviors that can lead to emotional distress and related physical symptoms.

Adult Children of Alcoholics/Dysfunctional Families (ACA) is a group designed for adults who grew up in alcoholic or dysfunctional homes. Participants have experienced abuse, neglect, or other unhealthy behaviors in their childhood home, with or without the presence of alcohol or drugs. These groups follow a Twelve Step, Twelve Tradition program. ACA reports that participants are encouraged to discuss what’s happening in their lives and how they are dealing with these issues, build a personal support network, and practice recovery and personal boundaries by giving service.

Emotions Anonymous (EA) is a group program based on the 12 Steps of AA. This group is designed for anyone who is working toward recovery from any sort of emotional difficulty. EA states that the only requirement for membership is a desire to become well emotionally. These groups are volunteer-led and follow a specific format and use materials that have been approved by the EA Board of Trustees, such as the book titled Emotions Anonymous.

If any of these support groups sound like something you’d like to try, simply follow the links and contact your local chapter.

In addition to support groups, you might also benefit from participating in therapy. Symmetry Counseling provides individual, couples, and EMDR therapy, to name a few. Contact Symmetry Counseling today to schedule an appointment.

Amanda Gregory, LCPC, and Symmetry Counseling do not endorse any of the groups or organizations identified in this blog.

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