Alcoholics Anonymous Support Group (AA) Location: Wesley Church on Barstow The support group I attended was on October 19th, 2012 at 12pm at Wesley Church located on Barstow Avenue. It was in the Winterburg Education Building in room 3. A gentleman by the name of Andy was leading the group. He first said a prayer and then asked if there were any new members. There were none so he asked if there were visitors. I introduced myself and said I was a Fresno State nursing student. He then said today they were going to talk about Step 12, which was about service.
Service was about introducing AA to people that could benefit from the program. Before you were expected to complete step 12, they wanted you to complete steps 1-11 first. The first person that spoke about his past was the leader, Andy. He shared with everyone that he had had three divorces and at one point his children didn’t talk to him. Alcoholism destroyed his life in his early years. He’s now twenty years sober. His last wife never came back to him but his children have since come back into his life. He leads AA meetings now because he expressed how AA helped him get his life back into order.
Next to speak was a gentleman by the name of Rich. He was 257 days sober. He said that he is nowhere near step 12 but was hoping down the road he will make it there. He talked about having depression, diabetes type 2 and alcoholism. Alcoholism runs in his family. A year ago he almost died from diabetic ketoacidosis. That’s when he decided to turn his life around. He felt that he was given a second chance at life and wanted to do positive things. He said that drinking doesn’t produce anything positive and he wanted to make the most of the rest of his life. A lady by the name of Carmen spoke next. She was three months sober.
She talked about how her brother doesn’t believe this will be long term. She always falls back into drinking. Carmen wants to prove to not only her brother, but herself, that she will remain sober for the rest of her life. She said that this time different because she has recruited God’s strength and that will help her get through it. The other two people at the meeting declined to speak. They said they just wanted to listen. During the rest of the meeting, Andy spoke more about Step 12 and how to get to that step. Next was another prayer while everyone joined hands. The meeting ended at 1:10pm.
I observed the following Yalom’s Curative Factors during the AA meeting: 1. Instillation of Hope – faith that the treatment mode can and will be effective. All the members felt that with God’s strength they can overcome the impossible. 2. Universality – demonstration that we are not alone in our misery or our “problems”. By attending the AA meetings, the members knew that they were not alone and there are others struggling with the same issue. 3. Imparting of information – didactic instruction about mental health, mental illness, psychodynamics or whatever else might be the focal problem of the group. Ex. OCOA, Alanon; learning about the disease process itself). It’s important for members to get facts about their condition through formal teaching. 4. Altruism – opportunity to rise out of oneself and help somebody else; the feeling of usefulness.
Altruism was discussed in Step 12. 5. Corrective recapitulation of primary family group – experiencing transference relationships growing out of primary family experiences providing the opportunity to relearn and clarify distortions. Members learned that they could resolve issues from the past with their family members that stemmed from alcoholism. . Development of socializing techniques – social learning or development of interpersonal skills. When the AA members shared their experiences and received feedback from them they were developing new social skills. 7. Imitative behavior – taking on the manner of group members who function more adequately. The members learned from Andy’s experience who has recovered. 8. Catharsis – opportunity for expression of strong affect. The AA members felt safe during the meeting to talk about their innermost feelings. 9.
Existential factors – recognition of the basic features of existence through sharing with others (e. g. ultimate aloneness, ultimate death, ultimate responsibility for our own actions). The AA group helped the individuals take some direction in their life. 10. Group Cohesiveness: The members of the AA group felt like they can accomplish anything together as a team. 11. Interpersonal learning – receiving feedback from others and experimenting with new ways of relating. The AA members gained insight regarding how one perceives and is being perceived by others.
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