Peer Groups Can Be Anything a Group Decides to Make It

“In our lives we are faced with a set of core issues that resurface again and again in different settings, with different people, at different times. These issues involve our relationship with the world, with ourselves, with our Higher Power. These are our life lessons.”    Stephanie Covington and Liana Beckett

Groups are the recognized best method for people to gain information and acceptance from others. One of the main underpinnings of AA is that all members are peers. Anyone has the opportunity to share and to be heard.

I believe the main factor in self-discovery in groups is cross-talk. I love cross-talk but 12 step groups hate it. My theory of why there is no cross-talk in 12 step groups is so no one has to hear anything he/she doesn’t like.

Self-discovery is all about finding out the personality traits that we each need to work on to gain better emotional sobriety. So I love cross-talk.

In the self-discovery model of group healing, everyone in the group is a student. The sharing of power in relationships defines the health of the relationship. No hierarchy is needed when people enter groups to help each other. The leadership of the group can be shared by all on a rotation basis.

The group members in the self-discovery group may decide to choose a rotation schedule. The main goal of the group may be short-term with the idea of splitting up to form new groups. Some people may choose to recycle–repeat the same group–before branching out to their own group.

After 2-3 times recycling, the other group members may help with the formation of new group to a group member who wants to continue in her/his first group.

Although there are common group techniques to be learned, anyone who has compassion for others can help them to better understand themselves. The information about themselves is very personal and should always be given from a positive point-of-view.

Denial isn’t about lying; it is about not telling the truth because the truth is an unknown. Addictions provide us with escapes from reality. Giving up an addiction means giving up the world the addict has created and learning about the world that is unfolding around each of us.

Holding on to an addiction is extremely time-consuming so in order to help others we have to help them to discover themselves: the hobbies, pastimes, desires that may have been given up long ago.

So in order to help others, the mentor gives first the solution by helping the addict to discover him/herself. This is a direct reversal of the medical/AA model of stripping a person bare in order to rebuild him/her. The self-discovery method helps a person to grow with dignity.

In learning new areas of self-discovery, when the addict finds many other pastimes and talents, the addiction will become less and less needed. The mentor has to remember that the addict is in a circular pattern of responding to life and the circle of negative thinking must be interrupted. 

Photo credit.