Understanding Self-help/mutual Aid

Understanding Self-help/mutual Aid

Experiential Learning in the Commons

eBook - 1999
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Rutgers University Press

Self-help groups have encountered fierce criticism as places where individuals join to share personal problems and to engage in therapeutic intervention without the aid of skilled professionals. These groups have flourished since the 1970s and continue to serve more people than professional therapy.

Yet these groups have been criticized as fostering a culture of whiners and victims, and not using professional help as needed. Thomasina Jo Borkman debunks this commonly held assessment, and also examines the reasons for these groups’ enduring popularity since the 1960s—more people attend these meetings (word?) than see professional therapists. What accounts for their success and popularity?

Understanding Self-Help / Mutual-Aid Groups is the first book to describe three stages of individual and group evolution that is part of this organization’s very structure; it also reconceptualizes participants’ interactions with professionals. The group as a whole, Borkman posits, draws on the life experiences of its membes to foster nurturing, support, and transformation through a “circle of sharing.” Groups create more positive and less stigmatizing “meaning perspectives” of the members’ problems than is available from professionals or lay folk culture.


Self-help groups have encountered fierce criticism as places where individuals join to share personal problems and to engage in therapeutic intervention without the aid of skilled professionals. These groups have flourished since the 1970s and continue to serve more people than professional therapy.

Yet these groups have been criticized as fostering a culture of whiners and victims, and not using professional help as needed. Thomasina Jo Borkman debunks this commonly held assessment, and also examines the reasons for these groups’ enduring popularity since the 1960s—more people attend these meetings (word?) than see professional therapists. What accounts for their success and popularity?

Understanding Self-Help / Mutual-Aid Groups is the first book to describe three stages of individual and group evolution that is part of this organization’s very structure; it also reconceptualizes participants’ interactions with professionals. The group as a whole, Borkman posits, draws on the life experiences of its membes to foster nurturing, support, and transformation through a “circle of sharing.” Groups create more positive and less stigmatizing “meaning perspectives” of the members’ problems than is available from professionals or lay folk culture.



Publisher: New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers University Press, ©1999
ISBN: 9780585325606
058532560X
Characteristics: 1 online resource (xiv, 257 pages) : illustrations

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