Natural allies: Twelve-step recovery and the Person-Centered Approach?


Westwood, David P.


Core underlying principles and concepts that are shared by the group process in twelve-step recovery meetings and the person-centered approach to therapy are examined. Although developed independently, both twelve-step recovery and person-centered therapy encourage change in adults and promote psychological development. Sharing from direct, personal experience is important in both practices, as is developing an awareness of feelings and needs.

As an example of sharing in a twelve-step meeting, an extended share on the topic of recovering sexual intimacy is included in an appendix. This example is intended to illustrate how sharing personal feelings and experiences with others, in a nonjudgmental and empathic setting, fosters self-acceptance and change.

Although the person-centered approach and twelve-step recovery have distinct features, both benefit from a felt quality of non-judgmental acceptance that is achieved by sharing feelings and personal experiences. Acceptance, which is the common ground in both models, helps individuals grow and differentiate while developing stronger connections with others.