sure that is true for some. We all have our favorite ways to learn.
Mutual helping groups are interesting but require work--dedication to a
purpose, self-disclosure, an eagerness to listen, learn, think, accept
and help others. Every person must be willing, after getting to know
each other well, to openly share his/her problems and positive or
negative feelings, to learn and use good communication skills, and so
on. In a good helping group, the payoffs are great: you learn from
others' lives, from their successes and failures. You gain useful skills.
You profit from the helpful ideas and honest feedback of 8-12 other
people. You also get the warm feelings and insights that come from
Be sure the rules of confidentiality adopted by the group are clear
and accepted by everyone. Insist on it. Be sure that everyone in the
group or class knows that they don't have to answer any question if
they don't want to. Accept your share of the responsibility for making
the group a meaningful experience; that usually means sharing your
experiences and your deepest concerns at the moment. Be gentle and
empathic with everyone in your group at all times, no matter what
they disclose. See the discussion in chapter 5 of self-help and support
groups for handling all kinds of stress and unwanted behaviors.
All these understandings are to prepare you for making maximum
use of this book and to introduce you to the ideas of self-help, mutual-
aid, and psycho-social education.
The Psycho-Social Educational Approach
Why haven't psychological techniques for managing and improving
our lives been more vigorously developed and taught to everyone? If
self-help is occurring in every life almost all the time, improving our
self-help ability and efforts seems like such a sensible idea. Strangely
enough, the methods of self-direction, self-control, and other forms of
self-help have never been organized and taught as a distinct part of
our family, educational, religious, informational, or social systems.
Let's consider for a moment why self-help knowledge might be
neglected. Why is self-help an orphan, apparently not wanted as a
whole, integrated discipline by any social institution? Why would
anyone or any group conspire to keep suffering people from getting
First of all, in spite of all our "fascination with people," we humans
have resisted studying ourselves psychologically and scientifically. As
Francis Bacon said, "Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be