What is a Self-Help Group?

The International Network For Mutual Help Centres has developed this working definition:

Self-help or mutual support is a process wherein people who share common experiences, situations or problems can offer each other a unique perspective that is not available from those who have not shared these experiences.

    • Self-help groups are run by and for group members. Professional providers may participate in the self-help process at the request and sanction of the group and remain in an ancillary, or consultant role.
    • Activities focus on social support through discussion and sharing of information and experiences but may extend to other activities and ways of interacting.
    • Self-help groups are open to people who share a common concern.
    • Self-help groups meet face-to-face, by conference call and online on a regular basis.
    • Self-help groups are voluntary and open to new members.
    • There is no charge to participate in a self-help group, although a nominal donation to cover expenses is sometimes requested, but not required.

The Difference Between a Peer-Led Self-Help Group (also referred to as a support group) and a Professionally-Led Support Group.

Peer-Led vs Professionally-Led