, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 47-53

The self-help group: The mental health professional's role

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The self-help group has become an increasingly important vehicle for providing mental health services for populations that have been otherwise therapeutically disenfranchised. The article discusses the role of the mental health professional in organizing self-help groups and in facilitating their fulfilling their goals. Transference, countertransference, and group dynamic issues are discussed in detail. These issues are illustrated with particular reference to a self-help group for the parents of cult members.

The author would like to extend his appreciation and thanks to the Division of Group Psychotherapy of the Department of Psychiatry of the Mount Sinai Hospital, where this paper was first presented. He would also like to express his appreciation to Arnold Markowitz, A.C.S.W., of the Cult Hotline and Clinic of the Jewish Board of Family and Community Services for his help and to the staff of Westchester Jewish Community Services for their support.