Characteristics of a self-help relationship

  • In a self-help group, the members provide mutual enrichment
  • Our perception of ourselves and others is positive
  • We are on an equal footing with each other
  • Our relationship is human

Each person remains autonomous and responsible for him or herself. Individuals assume the positive and negative consequences of their actions.


  • We don’t go there to cry in our soup and look for pity.
  • Putting one’s problem on the table, getting it out, is to look at it from a different perspective.
  • We can see more clearly through others’ problems than through our own.
  • But in listening to others we discover certain things that help us develop a new awareness.
  • We can’t change what we don’t know.
  • Lost memories come to the surface listening to the stories of others. It can help us to see the relationship between our past experiences and those of the present.
  • To reduce the shame and guilt, we can talk about it, say it, express it and break the code of silence, let the skeletons out of the closet.
  • It is in seeing that beauty of others that we being to see our own. Self-esteem improves, is enhances.
  • It is also by being loved, welcomed, accepted and listened to that we learn to love ourselves, to welcome ourselves, to accept ourselves and to listen to ourselves.
  • We can recognize ourselves in common characteristics and behaviors.
  • Individual therapy, immersion weekends, conferences, reading suggestions, etc. are just some of the richness brought to the group by each of the members.


What self-help enables on a an emotional level

  • Support to overcome difficult situations or hesitation when faced with a decision.
  • Helps develop an understanding of the feelings experienced and to find a constructive way to deal with them.
  • Self-help enables us to see the positive side of things when we are going through troubling ties; fear, anxiety, stress, suicidal tendencies, etc.
  • Self-help enables us to feel constructive emotions such as love, joy…
  • Self-help builds confidence and self-esteem.
  • Self-help helps us deal with the unknown, cope with the stress of situations that are out of the ordinary.

What self-help enables on an intellectual level

  • Self-help enables the sharing of information and knowledge.
  • Self-help enables us to find solutions to personal and social problems;

What self-help enables on a decisional level

  • Self-help enables people to make more enlightened decisions.
  • Self-help enables us to see ourselves as we are.


Being part of a self-help group does not mean we are receiving individual therapy or group therapy. Rather, we are coming to meet people who have been through an experience similar to ours and to express certain things and discuss effective way of taking charge. In fact, these meeting can serve to express certain things and discuss effective ways of taking charge. In fact, these meetings can serve to complement an individual therapeutic intervention.

Another limitation of the self-help group is that its members must be able to handle themselves. The group must support its members but it could not be realistic to expect that it could take the place of a professional in the life of the person.


The group is not simply gathering of people in one place. In fact, the group has its own identity. It has a special strength and energy that plays on each member. And each member has the right to expect the group to support him when necessary, to the extent that he participates himself in the support given.

In the self-help group, no one is obliged to speak. A person can be content to listen and find that the group brings a lot to him. Each person must decide for himself if he wants to speak or not.

Moreover, the members of a self-help group take part in the meetings for as long as they deem it useful. Here too, it is up to each individual to decide for himself.

However, for the group to achieve its objectives, the members have to follow certain precise rules.

  • Discretion
    Each member agrees to keep secret what is said or done in the group.
  • Punctuality
    It is preferable to arrive on time and, to the extent possible, to stay until the meeting ends
  • Freedom
    No one is obliged to speak in group (see above).
  • Non-judgment
    There is no good or bad emotions or questions. Everything that is shared is acceptable, as long as a person talks about him or herself and not about others.
  • Sharing
    Time is allocated in such a way that those who wish to speak may.

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,