Recovery Groups: Healing for Your Mind and Soul

If you have been following this blog, you have noticed that I write about my personal experiences in developing wellness and health. I’ve been pretty open about many of the activities and practices that I have embraced on my journey.

Yet, I have been rather shy about sharing the most important aspect of my healing. I have been attending a Christian-based recovery group called Celebrate Recovery. First of all, I find it uncomfortable to talk about faith-based programs. There are many negative preconceived notions associated with organized religion. Second, it has always been difficult for me to talk about my private challenges in my life to family and friends. It’s much more difficult to do so on a blog.

What I found at this group was true unconditional love and acceptance despite my flaws. I found my “forever family” who love me as I am and without any condemnation about my past. I have learned about many tools that I need to live a successful recovery. What I have experienced here is too important to not share.

Celebrate Recovery is a faith-based 12 step program that provides a safe place to overcome hurts, hang-ups and habits. These are described as follows:

  • Hurts: love, relational, physical, emotional, sexual abuse
  • Hang-ups: codependency, anger, self-harm
  • Habits: food, chemical, alcohol, gambling, sexual addiction

This recovery program started in 1991 at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. At that time, the church was meeting at a high school gym. There are now 35,000 churches that offer Celebrate Recovery to the public around the world.

It is also growing beyond churches. There are programs worldwide in recovery houses, rescue missions, universities, and prisons. New Mexico was the first state to adopt Celebrate Recovery into its state prison system. It now has Celebrate Recovery pods in all its state prisons. In August 2004, Celebrate Recovery became California’s state-approved substance abuse program for prisons.

I look forward to my weekly meetings. It’s a safe opportunity to connect with other people that may be facing similar problems. The format of the meetings is the same regardless of location. During the first hour, everybody sits together for music, prayer, testimonials and lessons. During the second hour, everybody breaks into small groups which focus on specific issues.

It’s in the small groups that I have had some profound experiences. Each person in the group gets the same amount of time to talk uninterrupted. Also, all discussions are to remain confidential. There are some guidelines provided, but you can generally talk about whatever you want as long as you don’t trigger any of the other group members. You are expected to listen without offering comments, judgements, advice or referrals to books or programs.

The whole organization is run by volunteers who have gone through recovery themselves. I have met many brave people who have decided to go on a journey of healing, self-acceptance, forgiveness and peace.

In doing research for this post, I also discovered other recovery programs that are not faith-based:

In my experience, It has been very important to be able to meet with other people facing similar issues. There is something powerful about being able to express my feelings without interruptions. It’s also a safe environment to share because full confidentiality is a rule. It’s also amazing to fully listen to others and discover issues that I need to reflect on in my own life.

If you know of any other great recovery groups, please share the details in the comments.

I would also love to hear about anybody else’s experience with recovery and 12-step groups. Please share!


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