Categories of self-help groups

There are several categories of self-help groups, according to the nature of the problem they are addressing. These categories, some of which overlap, are as follows :

  1. Firstly, there are all the groups for addicts or people suffering from compulsive behaviour. More specifically, Alcoholics Anonymous and the parallel groups for family or friends of alcoholics or teenagers affected by the behaviour of an alcoholic. There are also groups for over-eaters, compulsive gamblers, people with multiple addictions, etc.
  2. A second category includes groups oriented towards family problems. There are groups for parents of a child with a specific problem: learning disability, diabetes, autism, leukemia, etc. There are parent groups who want to promote a particular type of behaviour "vis-à-vis" their children, such as La Lèche League (breast feeding) and certain groups of parents of young children or teenagers who get together to find a more satisfactory way of communicating with their children. There are also self-help groups for single-parent families as well as a variety of groups for bereaved parents of a young child, for adoptive parents, violent parents, parents of twins, and more.
  3. A third category includes groups of people suffering from or who recently suffered from emotinal or psychological problems, such as groups for people living with depression, for people with mental illness and family and friends of the intellectually disabled or mentally ill.
  4. A fourth category targets people with a physical handicap or a particular chronic disease: amputees, hemophiliacs, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson`s disease, people with cancer, heart disease etc. In fact, there are self-help groups for almost every category in the international classification of diseases.
  5. A fifth category includes homosexual and lesbian groups, where they help themselves live comfortably with their situation and seek to divest themselves of the various psychocogical and social constraints associated with it.
  6. A sixth category addresses women who get together because of numerous forms of discrimination they suffer in present day society, often related to specific issues : war on rape, learning of self-defense, taking control of their health, mothers of young children who want to get out, etc.
  7. A seventh categoty includes groups oriented mainly towards specific social action : changing laws, lobbying to get research funds, creation of new services or improvement of existing services (tenant associations, injured workers, the unemployed, etc.).
  8. And finally, the last category is made up of groups of people who have just gone through a traumatic separation : widows and widowers, divorced people, for example.

CAP Santé Outaouais autorise the reproduction of this texte. We only want you to indicate the source : How-to manual for self-help groups, CAP Santé Outaouais, Internet edition,