Recovery Groups: Panacea or Pandemonium?

How is a Christian supposed to approach recovery groups?

Jenny approached her first meeting of the incest survivors' group with anxiety. She and her counselor had concluded that she had been sexually abused as a child. Her world seemed to spin as she grappled with what that meant. She needed help. She had heard of a 12-step support group for survivors sponsored by her church's Recovery Ministries.

Only a handful of women attended the meeting. The facilitator seemed to be very much "in charge" as the meeting began. She read the rules of the meeting. Then someone read a teaching from the Serenity Bible, someone else read the Scripture for the day. The facilitator opened the floor, and one by one the women began sharing. When each was finished, someone else shared. When anyone attempted to respond to the speaker, the facilitator cut her off with the words, "No cross talk." After everyone had spoken, the facilitator closed in prayer and everyone left. Jenny felt abandoned, discounted, and confused.

No one had seemed to connect with anyone else. She had sought help, but felt she had hit a blank wall. They might as well have spoken to an empty room. Where was the Christian love and concern she had expected to help her through the next phase of her healing journey? Although she attended several more meetings, nothing changed.

Later, she found an art therapy group for survivors that allows thoughtful feedback. She began to heal as the women in the group ministered to one another. She says, "I know the 12-step programs work for many people, but that one just left me feeling confused and scattered. I feel more affirmed in the art group, even though it isn't Christian."

Joe has attended a small Alcoholics Anonymous meeting near his home daily for the past three years. He is proud of his 27 ...

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