Peer Groups Can Help Us to Overcome Many Of Life’s Problems

9508192115_33dc84cb7d_bHaving been a teacher and counselor in addiction/mental health for over 30 years, I know that most people love to learn about themselves. I realized that many of the labels used by counselors are unknown to all the people who never attend therapy. So, in 1990,  I took these labels and developed a short test that will teach anyone 10 of his/her labels.

As individuals, we sometimes choose paths that are harmful to us. To get off that path and onto a new path takes exploration and experimentation.

My test, the Changemaker Test, offers education for self-discovery as I believe that change within a person involves the courage to see (insight) and the courage to act (action). Therefore by using the labels to change themselves, the changemaker is the person who decides to learn and make the change happen.

The test of 25 personality traits include the categories of NLP (neurolinguistic programming), birth order, family roles, emotional energy, and MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator). By learning our personality traits, we can determine the positives about ourselves to enrich our self-image. The Changemaker Test is meant to be the starting point for self-discovery.

In compiling this test, the answers, and explanations, I know that people with a desire to help others can use these tools to help any who want to continue with self-discovery.This test and related materials are available free at Finding Our Passion.

Groups are the recognized best method for people to gain information and acceptance from others. One of the main underpinings of AA is that all members are peers. Anyone has the opportunity to share and to be heard.

Changemaker groups are grow groups as the members have a desire for self-discovery. The groups may be a group who never formally meet but instead are joined together in a  virtual site online. . They may choose to come together by some basic personality labels in common. They also may exchange email addresses, instant messaging addresses or meet in a chat room.

Through Changemaker Groups, we provide short-term specialized direction and solutions to help others to better understand themselves and ourselves.. With this direction and self-knowledge others will learn to implement techniques designed to lead to greater self-mastery.

In Changemaker groups, the group leader leads only by getting the group together. By caring for others, the group members can learn as well as teach self-discovery. The group leader/leaders may choose to charge or ask for donations to pay for the meeting room and materials.

I have a separate blog about creating small recovery peer-based recovery groups, How to Start and Grow a Recovery Peer Group Sharing Experience, Strength, and Hope.

Increasing Self-Esteem is the Foundation for Emotional Recovery

3765077472_55d913c1c2_z“My feelings are that a person is born with innate characteristics, such as a sense of self-worth. As the person grows, environmental factors such as society, family, teachers, or peers can help the person’s self worth either grow and develop fruitfully or be weakened.”

“Self esteem, like so many other characteristics, can be learned or unlearned. Yes, we are born with our personalities, but through time, growth and experience, these can be altered through learning, attitude, motivation and inspiration when external forces work on internal forces.”

“In the event of a person being born with a chemical imbalance, which predisposes him/her to anxiety or depression, we must make a shift in thinking. A person with an anxiety disorder or depression may have to work a bit harder to find happiness and a sense of self-worth, but these certainly are treatable conditions and the person can still live a wonderful life of high quality.” K.C. Kelley

Addictions are the bandage covering the wound of not feeling worthy. I just discovered in 2010, that my primary addiction was to my family of origin—the family I grew up in. I have a picture of myself at age 5 which is about when I started thinking that I was terribly unfit to be in this family. There was always fighting, drama and violence. We had our loving times, too. I believe that my parents did the best they could. When describing those years, I love what ACA says about The Problem: “This is a description, not an indictment.”

But until I began healing my painful self beliefs, my self-confidence was very fragile. As I allowed those beliefs to change and become my new foundation, I became a person unafraid of what harm anyone could do to me. After i learned to love all of me, I was able to accept the rejection of others. I saw that they were just like me–they were only rejecting themselves. All hatred is really self-hatred.

I love group therapy because I believe all mental health to be transitory. So someone in a group is well at any given time. It is like a football we pass around. Sometimes we are “it” and sometimes we’re in a crazy zone.

In the self-discovery model of group healing, everyone in the group is a student. The sharing of power in relationships defines the health of the relationship. No hierarchy is needed when people enter groups to help each other. The leadership of the group can be shared by all on a rotation basis.

The group members in the self-discovery group must agree to follow guidelines that the group chooses. The main goal of the group should be short-term with the idea of splitting up to form new groups. Some people may choose to recycle–repeat the same group–before branching out to their own group. After 2-3 times recycling, the other group members may help with the formation of new group to a group member who needs more support.

I have created a blog about creating peer groups. How to Start and Grow a Recovery Peer Group Sharing Experience, Strength, and Hope.

Photo credit.

Small Group Resources

Other sources for small group work:

The United States and the world are experiencing a revolution in the Protestant faiths. In many countries, the change is labeled as emergent.

Although the experiences are slightly different at all the different denominations, one characteristic is true of all of them. They are organized around the small group. The groups meet in each other homes and are founded on the need we have for community and honesty. Too often in the organized religions, everything is done according to plan with little time given to the reality of each of our lives.

Of course, I have a particular belief that sharing and community in small groups has been greatly influenced by the leader of the 12 step groups—AA. Founded in 1938, AA has been such a phenomenon that it is estimated that there are close to 200 different types of 12 step groups.

Jesus and His disciplines used small groups to spread the Gospel. One organized church of today, Unitarian Universalist, has a well organized website devoted to topics, ideas, suggestions, for their small group ministry. The site has extensive resources for small groups with links for Christian and secular small groups. One of the links listed there are for cell churches.

The International Cell Church Conference for 2006 is in Johannesburg, South Africa. It also fills 8 stadiums simultaneously in San Salvador. One in four people in San Salvadore are members of the Elim Church which is now the 2nd largest church in the world. It also has a lot of resources for ice-breakers for small groups, etc.

Cell is defined on this site as persons being in regular, intimate relationship with a small group of people. The group with this site has some worksheets available to measure spiritual growth. At Ginghamsburg, they state: “We understand that worship celebration on Saturday and Sunday is uplifting, a time to celebrate God, and an important growth but it will not bring about life transformation. It is in the cell community where life transformation occurs.”

They define a cell group as: “A small group made up of 2-12 people who come together to build relationships through encouragement, accountability, guidance, and prayer so that all members experience life transformation through Christ. Cell groups are not therapeutic support groups.” The site then lists support groups if someone is interested. It also teaches others how to start cell groups.

The secular resources for small groups from UU are (1) group dynamics: basic nature of groups and how they develop and (2) study circles.

Another source for small group topics is Building Church Leaders from Christianity Today. Some of the topics there are: reaching people, building a team, healthy small groups, knowing God, becoming outward-focused, growing small groups, unity in diversity, setting goals and measuring results.

Links for small groups:

http://www.managementhelp.org/grp_skll/theory/theory.htm

Training Themes

UU Small Group Ministry Network

THE HEALING CIRCLE ONLINE, a place for healing and being healed

Related UU, Christian & Secular Websites

Open Directory – Society Religion and Spirituality Unitarianism and Universalism Ministry

group therapy introduction techniques – Google Search

Group Dynamics Basic Nature of Groups and How They Develop

Photo credit.

How Christianity is Using Small Groups

Group@Nativity Church by hoyasmeg

The United States and the world are experiencing a revolution in the Protestant faiths. In many countries, the change is labeled as emergent.

Although the experiences are slightly different at all the different denominations, one characteristic is true of all of them. They are organized around the small group. The groups meet in each other homes and are founded on the need we have for community and honesty. Too often in the organized religions, everything is done according to plan with little time given to the reality of each of our lives.

Of course, I have a particular belief that sharing and community in small groups has been greatly influenced by the leader of the 12 step groups—AA. Founded in 1938, AA has been such a phenomenon that it is estimated that there are close to 200 different types of 12 step groups.

Jesus and His disciplines used small groups to spread the Gospel. One organized church of today, Unitarian Universalist, has a well organized website devoted to topics, ideas, suggestions, for their small group ministry. The site has extensive resources for small groups with links for Christian and secular small groups. All the links for small groups is here. The links include: The joys and challenges of covenant,publications,  and the complete guide to small group ministry.

How to begin a spiritual cell group is defined by Touch Outreach Ministries as “A spiritual cell group is very similar to a biological cell. Followers of Jesus Christ edify one another and increase the kingdom by sharing their lives with unbelievers. New leaders are raised up from within the group (with the support and training by their pastoral staff) to grow and expand the ministry to a hurting world. When the group multiplies, the process repeats itself.”

“Cell groups aren’t simply another name for a Bible study, fellowship group or Sunday School class. They are a group of believers who have banded together for a season in life to reach the lost, minister to the hurting and each other, and discover their leadership potential. Sure, cell groups study the Word, but they do so in order to live out what they read and use it effectively to penetrate a dark world with the light of Jesus Christ . . . which is quite different from studying a passage each week for general knowledge. Cell groups also have lots of fun together . . . but this fellowship is specialized in that it usually exposes unbelievers to a group of fun, Jesus-loving people. In other words, cell groups even use fellowship as an evangelistic tool! And last, it wouldn’t be right to call a Sunday morning classroom experience a cell group. A cell group should meet in a place and time that is comfortable for both the believers and unbelievers visiting, and provide enough time to share deep concerns and pray for one another. Rarely can either of these things be done within one hour at a church building, early on a Sunday morning.”

Other small groups links:

How Rick Warren built the Saddlebrook Church

Small groups, big ideas–the egalitarian workforce philosophy of W. L. Gore & Associates

Dawn Ministries whose goal is to raise 20,000 associates who will train 2 million church planters to plant 20 million churches by 2020.

Church Teams which is web-based group software to track ,map, and empower church small groups