bservation to Theory to Practice
My wife, Mary Ann, chaired a group for members’ wives and partners. Mental health professionals, addiction counselors, and pastors who valued this organizational template referred their clients, patients, parishioners, and friends.
These support groups began five years before the APA recognized IAD as a viable disorder
An advisory committee was formed comprised of mental health professionals and an addiction specialist.
One of my primary motivations for beginning peer-led groups was my need for a therapeutic community. This stemmed from my observation that without active involvement in one's own life-long process of growth, we self-sabotage.
Far from seeing myself then, or now, as having it all together, this relational construct was a safe place to peel off deeper layers of the proverbial onion. As addictive behavior was addressed, many group members were already aware, and others discovered, that these numbing agents of choice were masking latent mental health concerns.
The outgrowths of these conversations encouraged several attendees, including myself, to eventually seek professional help to include childhood trauma as well. Over the group’s 14 active years, many members utilized their stories to “carry the message”. To this day, many have either started support groups of their own, become meaningful participants in other groups, or taken a role in mentoring others.