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The key word today is self-help. Though self-help means the act or an instance of helping or improving oneself without assistance from others, it is mostly applicable to psychological or psychotherapeutic situations. In law and the anthropology of law, self-help refers to legal remedies that can be initiated by the aggrieved individual without filing a lawsuit or obtaining an order from a judge. Though popular, self-help books and programs have been criticized for offering “easy answers” to difficult personal problems. One can find self-help programs and books that offer helpful advice on all kinds of topics, from cooking to hypnosis to exercising to personal development.

Today there are self-help groups for almost any and every issue—health, social or personal. In such groups, people who share common experiences offer each other a unique perspective which is not available from others. Such groups focus on social support through discussion and sharing of information and experiences but may extend to other activities and ways of interacting. These groups are open to people who share a common concern and have regular meetings. Membership is voluntary and usually free.

The benefits of self-help groups and programs are many. It empowers individuals and increases social support. It has a unique problem-solving approach and increased self-esteem is often a result of belonging to a group. Motivation increases due to group intervention and helps to relieve anxiety of the unknown through learning. Shared experiences bring a sense of unity and strength and new information is often available faster because of the combined efforts of the group.

It is not essential that you go to a regular self-help group. If anonymity is what you desire you can even opt for online self-help groups. The members of such groups generally have group chats somewhat similar to regular groups, the only difference being you can’t put a face to any of the members-only a screen name. Some studies also show that these online groups can prove more effective at times since participants tend to feel they are on equal terms with other members, which may not always be the case in real groups.

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