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Self Help Groups


Self help groups are groups of people who have a similar situation, problem or experience who come together to support each other, share their emotions and learn practical information.

Self help groups are run by members, not by professionals. If professionals are involved, it is as support to the group, not as as leader. (Groups led by professionals are known as "Support Groups").

There are generally no fees for belonging to a self help group. If there are fees, they are usually minimal. (Health insurance may cover fees).

You can find a self help group the same way you locate a support group through any of the following pathways:

  • Your doctor or nurse.
  • A social worker.(You can call a hospital near you and ask to speak with a social worker).
  • A local disease specific nonprofit organization.
  • A hospital or institution which treats people with your diganosis. 
  • American Self-Help Group Clearinghouse has an online database you can search through at: offsite link.
  • If you have a type of cancer, see: offsite link - look for Survivors and Advocates, then for a self help gorup.
  • Self-Help Group Sourcebook Online offsite link
  • Self Help Group Locator offsite link

For information about starting a self help group in your community or on line, see: offsite link

For more information about self help groups, including the pros and cons of joining one, see the information in the Survivorship A to Z document about Support Groups. As you review the information, keep in mind that since a self help group is not run by a professional, there is no one assigned to help keep the discussion positive, to watch for misinformation or for your individual needs.  Verify all information before acting on it.

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