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Self-help groups and starting a CODA group

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Some introductory remarks about self-help groups and a Coda self-help group in particular.

In past posts I have described codependency and how it affects the lives of many. My personal experience is that one of the most powerful ways codas are helped is by becoming an active member of a Coda self-help group. In this post I want to provide some information about self-help groups in general in the hope that it will lead some of the readers of this blog to form a coda self-help group.

What are the defining characteristics of self-help groups?

Codagroup The Oxford dictionary of English defines self-help as “the use of one's own efforts and resources to achieve things without relying on others”. One of the defining characteristics of self-help groups is that they rely on the healing interaction of group members. Reliance is on the collective, experiential knowledge possessed by group members and not on outside professionals. The absence of professional fees and the “no profit” feature of self-help groups make them available to all who can physically attend. Members do voluntarily make small donations to cover rent etc. so that the group is self-supporting.

Another feature of self-help groups is that members share a common problem or concern which may be codependency or a wide variety of other problems e.g. adult ADHD, substance abuse, arthritis, or cancer to name but a few. That members have a common concern is extremely important to a self-help group because it binds the group members together as nothing else can. This homogeneity of problem enhances empathy and identification between members which in turn tends to reduce shame. The result is that members of a self-help group feel comfortable sharing deeply personal feelings. Oneness of purpose is essential for a self-help group to survive.

A final feature of self-help groups is that they are self-governing, and democratic without any “leader” or “boss”. This creates an atmosphere which fosters self empowerment and leads to an increase in the member’s feelings of competency and ability to solve their personal problems.

The format of self-help groups varies greatly from completely free or unstructured to highly structured involving the use of a written format e.g. the Twelve Steps and Traditions of Alcoholics anonymous which is the oldest and most successful self-help group.

Starting a coda self-help group in Singapore

In the U.S. , Canada, and many parts of Europe, there are coda groups. If you are interested in helping create a coda group here in Singapore please make add a comment to this blog with your contact email and we can together start a group. No special leadership skills or knowledge is required, only that you have a problem with codependency. It only takes two or three people to get a group started.

P.S. I have experience in helping setting up self-help groups and would be happy to do so if you have another kind of self-help group in mind.


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