Encyclopedia of Gerontology and Population Aging

Living Edition
| Editors: Danan Gu, Matthew E. Dupre

Mutual Support Groups

  • Fabio FolgheraiterEmail author
  • Francesca Corradini
  • Giulia Avancini
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-69892-2_500-1



Mutual support groups are small groups formed on a voluntary basis by people who share the same life difficulty and help each other improve their well-being. A mutual support group is a peer-led one, with a structure expressly devoted to developing and enhancing reciprocity (Steinberg 2014). In these groups, through sharing and dialogue, experiential knowledge and expertise emerge from participants; are spelled out in words, compared, and provided with some structure; and thus become useful for all participants (Borkman 1976).


Having originated in the United States in the 1950s particularly for people with alcohol addiction, these groups quickly spread all over the world to help participants cope with a wide range of life problems.

Mutual support groups differ from other groups proposed by social workers and psychologists because of the following characteristics:
  • A common...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fabio Folgheraiter
    • 1
    Email author
  • Francesca Corradini
    • 1
  • Giulia Avancini
    • 1
  1. 1.SociologyCatholic University of MilanMilanItaly

Section editors and affiliations

  • Joonmo Son
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore