Self-help groups

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Self-help groups

Many people are members of self-help groups. They deal with issues that can affect anybody. They help and support each other and work together on various activities.

People join self-help groups for numerous reasons:

  • because they want to COMMUNICATE with other people
  • because they want to MEET people who have similar experiences
  • because they are looking for INFORMATION
  • because they want to SHARE THEIR EXPERIENCES
  • because together they want to DRAW ATTENTION to their problem
  • because they want to CAMPAIGN with others for change
  • because SHARED PROBLEMS are smaller problems
  • because they want to JOIN others outside their own family
  • because they want to get together outside the group meetings to SUPPORT one another


Self-help groups meet regularly. Each group decides for itself exactly what they want to do. Some groups focus on discussions. Others meet for various activities or they lobby publicly for their interests.

When I join in a self-help group, first of all I can see if I feel comfortable there. I decide what I want to say about myself and which activities I want to participate in.

Respect and mutual trust are very  important for a self-help group. Personal information given in the group must be kept confidential.

Self-help groups are not a substitute for medical or social services, but they can complement them very well.

Self-help groups are not led by professional helpers (e.g. doctors or psychologists). Nevertheless, they are an important form of support for many people because here the members can try out new ways of understanding their problems and coping with them.


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