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What the Best Recovery Group Leaders Know

What the Best Recovery Group Leaders Know

Ten principles for successful recovery groups.

Mark Whelchel  |  posted 12/12/1998

Note: This article has been excerpted from the training tool called Recovery Ministries.

Recovery groups share moments of fulfillment and frustration, exhilaration and exhaustion, growth and groaning. But the overall experience will be positive when the leader remembers these principles.

  • Allow time for personal healing. Most recovery-group leaders were once recovery-group members, but that transition from member to leader takes time, usually 18 to 24 months. Don't rush anyone into a position of leadership.
  • Expect different personal experiences. God doesn't work the same way with every individual. Some principles and steps will apply across the board, but be prepared for God to do wondrously different things in the lives of each member.
  • Learn, learn, learn. Be on the lookout for books, materials, and conferences that provide opportunities for personal and leadership growth.
  • Build teamwork. A co-leader gives you an extra pair of eyes and another mind to evaluate the group process.
  • Create a safe environment. This means a safe location, a safe phone number, and a safe time frame. You don't want someone to have to call the church secretary to sign up for a pornography recovery group, nor do you want to meet in a room adjacent to the main church lobby on Sunday mornings.
  • Clarify group rules and structure. Group members need to know the group's boundaries and expectations. this, too, lends a sense of safety.
  • Emphasize confidentiality. Reiterate the importance of this every time you meet.
  • Model transparency and depth. If the leader shares at a deep level and models a willingness to risk intimacy, group members are likely to do the same. The result will be group cohesion and a growth-producing environment.
  • Grow through critical feedback. It's only realistic to expect criticism. Guard against feeling threatened. Invite feedback from group members, knowing it provides an avenue for growth.
  • Develop a referral network. Keep a list of mental health professionals whose help and guidance you trust. They can be a valuable resource for you as leader and for your group members who might need help beyond the scope of the group.

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