Support Group Paper: Alcoholics anonymous



Support Group Paper Instructions

After attending the support/self-help group meetings, you will describe your observations of group member and leader behaviors, group dynamics, content, and processes. You will reflect on how your experiences with the group compares to best practices and principles for group counseling and support groups that you have learned about in this course. Integrate relevant ideas from all required course texts (including the Corey et al. workbook) and 2 scholarly research articles about group counseling in your analysis. Your paper must demonstrate critical thinking and personal application.

The paper must be 7–8 pages or 2,500 words (a 10% deviation in either direction is acceptable), not counting the title page, abstract, and reference page. Although you may use first person in this paper, remember it must be in current APA format and include a title page, running head, abstract, and a reference page. Your paper must be well written, well organized, and free of grammar, spelling, or other writing errors.

After the main heading (paper title) on page 3, begin the body of your paper with an introductory paragraph in which you identify the group you attended and the number of participants at each meeting. Then, address the following topics using these subheadings as follows:

Content and Process

Give a concise description of the topic or theme of the meetings you attended and how the topic was presented/incorporated. Discuss the appropriateness of the content and the relative effectiveness of how it was processed. Include specific details and examples as needed. Provide specific examples from the meetings, but do not disclose confidential information about group members in such a way that they can be identified.

Group Dynamics and Participants

Describe the atmosphere and dynamics of the group, what developmental stage it was in, level of participation, and how you think members benefitted from this group. (You may find chapter 16 of the Forsyth text helpful for this section.)

Leadership Behaviors

Describe the leadership styles and skills that were used and discuss to what extent and in what ways you think they were appropriate and effective. Describe specific challenges you observed and how the leader(s) handled them.

Application and Conclusion

Reflect on your learning and the most significant takeaways from this experience. If you were leading this group, what would you do differently? How did the meetings promote or contradict a biblical view of persons? Were ethical guidelines for group counseling adhered to or violated? End your paper with a concluding thought.

















In counseling, support groups are a common phenomenon. Individuals undergoing similar issues come together to undergo group therapy and enable them to cope, address their issues, and empower them to lead better lives. Alcoholics Anonymous is a support group where members suffering from alcohol and substance addiction come together to encourage one another and receive the support needed to assist them in staying sober. The process involves a group of recovering addicts adhering to a 12-step recovery program and 12-traditions to beat addiction and improve their wellness.  The AA support group primarily promotes sobriety and wellness of its members and carries the message to other alcoholics who suffer. The therapy entails members sharing their personal stories, experience with alcohol and recovery journey. The support group is dynamic, drawing its diverse participants from willing alcoholics seeking recovery. The group is under the leadership of the two main leaders, but each member has a sponsor within the group to ensure accountability.

Keywords: Group therapy, Alcoholic Anonymous, Support Group, Alcohol addiction, Sobriety, Sponsor and Group dynamic.








Support Group Paper: Alcoholics Anonymous


In my household, alcohol was a common beverage served during meals or at social gatherings during my upbringing. Adults normalized drinking, especially while watching games, family events, and meals, that it took me a while to realize some of them were addicts. I was about 12 years when I realized that alcohol and substance addiction was an issue after observing how some family members were negatively affected by alcoholism. The desire to assist these loved ones sparked an interest that led me to pursue a degree in Human Service Counseling. During my course, I understood more about alcohol and substance addiction and the concept of group therapy/counseling. Previously, I visited other support groups such as ‘Still a mum’ for mothers who lost their children through miscarriages, stillbirth, or deaths. However, my interest in alcohol addiction compelled me to visit a support group referred to a particular Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The group had 22 participants, both males and females, with ages ranging from 19 years to 71 years. However, the attendance stretches to 30 during some sessions.

Content and Process

When I shared my intent to visit a support group, my friend Erin directed me to the AA support group. My friend’s dad, Mr Bell, was one of its beneficiaries before his passing, and always attributed it playing a crucial role in his recovery journey and a second chance in life. After being an alcoholic for 14years, Mr Bell sought help at a rehabilitation clinic, where he was introduced by one of the counselors to the AA group. After his release from the clinic, he attended an AA session with the support group, loved it, and continued attending for the next 19 years. He became rooted, committed, and rediscovered his purpose. He found a job through a connection from the support group, reconciled with his family, and lived a better life after getting over the addiction. He stayed sober and committed to the group until his passing due to heart failure. Mr Bell often attributed his second chance to his life to the love, support, and sponsorship he found in this AA group. When my friend narrated this story, I was moved and curious to attend an AA support group session to understand the dynamics of the group therapy. With my friend’s assistance, I reached out to one of the group leaders, Mr X and a friend of the late Mr Bell. I explained my predicament and objective of attending the support group because it was a part of my course work. Mr X gave me a positive response to attend five sessions after discussing with the group members, who allowed me to attend for learning purposes. This is how I got to attend sessions of AA support groups and had an unforgettable learning experience.

The support group meets at an apartment building located in XXXXX. The building has hosted various members for the last 25 years. The members are drawn from all walks of life, regardless of their gender, race, age, and occupation. Normally, members meet in the evening from 6 pm daily for five days a week. The group brings together individuals addicted to drug and substance abuse seeking to maintain their sobriety. The group members sit in a circular format, creating an intimate set-up and sharing of personal stories. They have two leaders of the group, an older woman in her late sixties, Mrs Y, deputized by Mr Y.

Alcoholism is a disease, and alcoholic addiction refers to individuals who are unable to manage their drinking and depend on it to for proper functioning of their emotions, minds, and body. The support group based their therapy on the twelve-step recovery model, which focusses mainly on the recovery and welfare of the alcoholics to enable them to beat the addiction, stay sober, and lead meaningful lives (Galanter, 2014). Both the leadership and members of this group are committed to the 12 traditions and internalized these 12 steps as a lifestyle practicing them daily. The 12-step journey is not just a recovery process but inspires its users to live a productive life and accountable for their actions. The mantra of the group is to support and encourage each other to maintain the sobriety and carry the recovery message to other alcoholics. It is an open group, but most members have been in attending it for years, creating a community of close-knit sense of family. The session runs for 90 minutes, or more depending on the stories being shared. Afterwards, members can leave at will. The sessions are well organized and conducted with minimal disruptions. Members are allowed to share and accorded each ample time, although they were still considerate with time. The leaders maintain order, encourage members to share, and welcome new members homely. The flow of the sessions was rhythmic with members participating voluntarily. They shared their personal stories from alcohol addictions, the journey of recovery, personal struggles, and life events (Vaillant, 2014). Members shared both good and devastating narrations about their lives. I understood the intensity of addiction and the cost of alcoholism as members shared how the disease took a toll on them. Some of the stories on the recovery journey shared were emotional but enabled me to understand the suffering of my affected family members.

Group Dynamics and Participants

A group setting is a significant determinant in the participation of its members. Often, people seek safe spaces that will be accommodative to allow them to be vulnerable enough to seek assistance (Corey, 2015). Most addicts have often faced judgment and stigma from the community, hence are in search of a sense of belonging and acceptance. When I attended sessions with this group, it was evident that it exuded a deep and close-knit sense of community, with a high level of confidentiality. The group privacy allowed members to share their journeys freely. The group was well-established because of how it was run. Some members have been part of the group for the last fifteen years, which was impressive because it demonstrated their commitment to the process. Some of these members indicated that the group kept them rooted, gave them a community, and felt at home. The atmosphere was serene, given the level of participation that occurred during the sessions. Most members shared detailed and intimate experiences during the meeting, which was an indication of how well the group was established. I recall new members who were hesitant to open up during their first sessions, and the leader handled them with ease and told them they would only share once they are comfortable.

The group dynamic was well represented with old, young, male, female, rich, and low-income earners. After the meeting, tea and snacks were offered to the members. During this time, members interacted with one another, and you could tell everyone is friendly, especially in their efforts to make a new member comfortable. Financially able members voluntarily catered for the food, which assists needy members and homeless. In my interaction, I met three women, three generations as a mother, her daughter, and granddaughter, who were all in attendance. This was a testament of how inclusive the group was to its members. I realized members are guarded and protect those vulnerable, because people only shared their own stories, not of others.

The members I spoke to revealed the several ways the group has been highly beneficial to its members. The primary goal was to attain and maintain sobriety and get their life on track. This AA group has been instrumental in ensuring the wellness of its members (Vaillant, 2014). They are often there for one another outside the parameters of the group, like when one is bereaved, ill, or jobless, they would show up and offer help such as food and accommodation. The group has birthed friendships, and some able members have employed members in their businesses and companies to help set them on a sustainable path.

Leadership Behaviors

The leadership aspect of this group was very impressive. For the sessions I attended, there was one leader of the entire group, a  kind-hearted lady, who is deputized by a gentleman in his fifties. It was easy to understand why members respected them because they were natural leaders who often handled situations with much grace to diffuse any tension (Corey, 2015). Apart from the two leaders, members have sponsors, and the sponsor also had another sponsor. The sponsorship idea was interesting as it sets a chain of authority. The new members pair up willingly with sponsors of their choice, who are usually those who have been sober for a long time. It is a way to ensure accountability and offer mentorship to new members. The members can drop their sponsors should they become uncomfortable. The group has become a community truly serving the needs of one another.

The success of this AA group is pegged on its leadership, commitment, and passion for the course. It was interesting to find that some people drove for hours to the meeting as they lived out of town. Some of them lived around town before relocating, while others heard of the group and love its representation; hence, they choose to drive to it from the outskirts.  It demonstrates that they have faith in its leadership and membership as the main driver of their recovery.

The leadership style I experienced at the AA meeting was both autonomous and collaborative. In certain incidences, the leader made authoritative decisions, while in some instances, they were democratic and inclusive in their decision-making (Carey, Mansell, & Tai, 2015). I recall tension and intense argument between two members that almost escalated into a physical fight. One of the members had relapsed, lied, and caused an accident while driving a car of the other member. The disagreement spilled over to the session as the member was sharing about the relapse. The two leaders sprang into action to diffuse the tension, and firmly reminded the members of the acceptable code of conduct. After the meeting, I saw them call the members aside and talked to them. The conflict resolution, presiding, communication, and listening skills were admirable. Before I was allowed to attend the meetings, I talked to one of the leaders, who had to seek the consent of other members and explain to them about my assignment. It is his persuasion skills that allowed members to accommodate me, as they all voted in favor. The leadership styles and skills employed were appropriate and effective in varied situations. In my case, members were comfortable with me because their leaders talked to them and acted as an assurance that I did not intend to interfere with their proceedings.

Application and Conclusion

Alcohol addiction is a disease that grapples several households in the world, causing them pain and even deaths. It has a ripple effect because it either affects people directly or indirectly, causing insurmountable grief and pain to families and loved ones. Understanding the journey of those members of the AA support group offered an insight into how humane these recovering addicts are and their pursuit to better their lives. I enjoyed my experience because it gave me an awakening at how difficult the road to recovery is, yet these people remain relentless and consistent to ensure they remain sober. The sobriety process and ongoing idea of a recovering addict promote the biblical view of man as flawed and in need of a savior. Just like in the AA group, man is never really perfected (recovered) in their journey but continues to strive for perfection. A biblical perspective views man as sinful, and in need of a savior to help him survive the daily fleshly desires, and AA borrows this principle as it is focused on God to help them in their daily recovery journey (Galanter, 2014). Oddly, I think the world would be a better place if we all embraced some aspects of the 12-step recovery model. There was love, acceptance, and understanding in that AA support group because they understand that they are all on a journey and need to support one another to make it.

If I was leading this group, I would embrace the already existing leadership style and framework. The only difference would be that once in a while, I would invite a professional counselor to join in the sessions of the group to offer a professional perspective and expertise. I was amazed at how much I learned from that group in the few sessions I attended. The group adhered to the ethical guidelines for group counseling. There were encouragement, empathy, inquiry, and personal warmth (Carey, Mansell, & Tai, 2015). The leaders in the meeting wore several hats to assist their members to make progress.

Concisely, the concept of AA has always been an interesting one because it demonstrates how powerful a person’s will to transform their wellbeing from addiction. Its success is linked to the approach of living a day at a time, surrendering to a higher power to continue recovering, which culminates to several years of sobriety. So many lessons can be drawn from the support group even without one being an addict because they apply to our daily life. People battle internally with different things that we may never fully fathom. A living person is never too far gone, and still worthy of redemption given a chance.










Carey, T. A., Mansell, W., & Tai, S. (2015). Principles-Based Counselling and Psychotherapy: A Method of Levels approach. Routledge.

Corey, G. (2015). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy. Nelson Education.

Galanter, M. (2014). Understanding Alcoholics Anonymous as a spiritual fellowship: From individual to social structure. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 32(2-3), 111-119.

Vaillant, G. E. (2014). Positive emotions and the success of Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 32(2-3), 214-224.

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