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"Although the world
is full of suffering...
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overcoming it."
-- Helen Keller

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Self-Help Group Sourcebook OnLine
Sponsored By CenterSite, LLC

Frequently Asked Questions
A list of frequently asked questions readers have sent us
about The Self-Help Sourcebook.
Last updated on January 26th, 2007

What is the Self-Help Sourcebook Online?

The Self-Help Sourcebook Online is a database that includes information on well over 1,200 national, online, and demonstrational model self-help support groups, information on starting groups, opportunities to register and link with others to develop needed new national and international groups.

 Can I buy a regular copy of this book?

Yes, the Self-Help Sourcebook Online is the free, updated, electronic version of the 448-page Self-Help Group Sourcebook. You may purchase the softcover edition of the book directly from the American Self-Help Group Clearinghouse at a substantial Internet discount. Your purchase ensures that the Clearinghouse can update and publish future editions of the book and continue to make this resource available online at no cost.


What is a Self-Help Group?

Self-Help groups can be more appropriately called "mutual help" groups. Essentially there are four characteristics that make them what they are:


  • Mutual help - This is the primary dynamic process that takes place within the group -- it's people helping one another and helping themselves in the process. Experiences are shared, knowledge is pooled, options are multipled, hopes are reinforced, and efforts are joined as members strive to help one another.


  • Member-Run - Member run and "owned". Providing a sense of belonging and reflecting members'felt needs. They are not professionally run groups. If professionals are involved (and in many cases they are) they serve in ancillary supportive roles, i.e., they are "on tap, not on top" as some groups describe it.


  • Composed of Peers - members share the same problem/experience, providing a powerful "you are not alone" sense of understanding, which can often lead to an almost instant sense of community at the first meeting.


  • Voluntary Non-Profit organization - volunteer-run, no fees; dues if any are minimal. They are, as described by A. Tofler in his 1980 book, The Third Wave, as "prosumers," rather than "consumers.


Why Are "Model Groups" Groups Included in the Sourcebook?

The most exciting and important capability of self-help support groups is that ordinary people, in joining with others, start these groups in their local communities when none exist, and then they often become an extraordinary resource to others. They don't need a grant, an agency, or even a office - just the inspiration and a few other people who share their experience and common sense. When there is no national organization, what significantly helps is simply knowing that there indeed is a group that has already started somewhere, that shows such groups can be developed and can provide information so that others don't have to re-invent the wheel. When there is a national group, a model group can also show how such a group might be run differently. But in either case, it greatly encourages others to take those steps. That is why we publish the Sourcebook and list model groups.


Who is responsible for the Self-Help Sourcebook Online?

It is a cooperative project which (in the best traditions of self-help groups) is involving more and more people every day. The core team of the effort, however, consists of the following people:
    • Edward J. Madara, M.S., Director, American Self-Help Clearinghouse, Northwest Covenant Medical Center, Denville NJ. Ed and his staff are responsible for ongoing maintenance and upkeep of the database.
    • Barbara J. White, American Self-Help Clearinghouse, Northwest Covenant Medical Center, Denville NJ, who transferred the Clearinghouse's current database into the Web-accessible one with a lot of hard work and late nights.
    • Mark Dombeck, Ph.D., an online Clinical Psychologist and Director of Mental Help Net who coordinates the online presence of this sourcebook for CenterSite, LLC.

    Additional thanks to:

    • Ellen F. MacGarrigle, Doctoral Student, and former doctoral student Dr. Jim Murray, Department of Engineering Management, George Washington University, Washington DC, put together the initial draft version of the Sourcebook Online and was an invaluable member in the development team. Additional technical advice and support that made this possible was provided by Dr. Linda Harris, Center for Health Policy Research, GWU.


How can I access the Self-Help Sourcebook OnLine?

You're here! The Sourcebook Online is a simple database which is accessibly exclusively through Mental Help Net by a search engine engineered to provide easy-to-use and fast results. The Sourcebook OnLine's Web address is:


How do I know if my question is a FAQ?

Is it here? If you have a question that isn't here, send it to us (using the "Comments" icon below) and we will send you a response and maybe even update this page.
Copyright American Self-Help Clearinghouse, 1993-2007
Published by Mental Help Net, a service of CenterSite, LLC