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Autonomous groups of individuals who share a common problem or concern, either directly or through their partners and families, who meet together on a voluntary basis, either in-person, by telephone or via the Internet, to fulfill a need, overcome a disability or cope with a crisis. Members of mutual support groups share their experiences, strengths and hopes and rely on one another for emotional support, information and resources. Included are professionally-facilitated groups, faith-based and secular 12-step models with or without professional participation, groups that use a set of guidelines prepared by a national organization or headquarters, and groups that have no professional participation and/or no specifically-structured format.
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Programs that provide guidance and support in resolving personal, social or psychological problems through an interactive process that encourages patients to make maximum use of their assets, strengthen effective existing defenses while eliminating those that are maladaptive, gain insight into conscious or unconscious conflicts, modify their goals and make other decisions that will help them improve their personal and interpersonal functioning and deal effectively with troubling situations in their lives.
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The above terms and definitions are part of the Taxonomy of Human Services, used here by permission of INFO LINE of Los Angeles.