While members are free to share whatever they need to, experience shows that we promote the greatest good for the greatest number if we share on the topic so that all may benefit from the meeting. We allow members who may be in pain to share with the group regardless of the topic. Generally speaking, however, detailed discussion of problems and issues usually takes place with sponsors or in personal conversations between individuals before and after the meeting, and on the phone between meetings. During the meetings we suggest sharing in generalities instead of specifics. We do this in order to maintain a safe environment for all our members.
Some groups try to strike a balance by devoting one portion of the meeting to discussion of a topic or study of one of the Twelve Steps or Twelve Traditions and another portion to the sharing. Most groups find that sharing is most helpful when it centers on the experience, strength, and hope of the S-Anon program and the elements that have proven most useful to the members—focusing on the solution rather than the problem.
Regardless of meeting type, we concentrate on listening rather than responding. We recognize that each person must feel safe to share their feelings without having to explain or justify them. We avoid crosstalk by sharing with the group as a whole, rather than addressing comments or questions to individual members. We also refrain from gossip and criticism of one another or the sexaholic. We limit our sharing so everyone present has a chance to share. Some types of meetings that S-Anon members have found helpful are discussed below.
Most groups begin the Step Study portion of the meeting by reading Conference Approved material pertaining to a particular Step. A group member then gives a short “lead,” sharing their experience with working the Step or telling how they have applied the principles embodied in the Step to further their recovery. The meeting is then opened for sharing from other group members.
Tradition or Concept of Study
Some groups have found it very helpful to plan meetings where Conference Approved Literature from S-Anon, Al-Anon, or AA pertaining to the Twelve Traditions or Twelve Concepts is studied in the same way as the Twelve Steps. That is, material pertaining to a particular Tradition or Concept is read, a group member gives a short lead, and the meeting is opened for sharing from other members.
Meeting topics can be found in S-Anon Conference Approved Literature and S-Anews articles. The leader of the meeting may choose a topic in advance or ask if one of the group members would like to suggest a topic. The leader or group member may share on the subject chosen and then open the meeting for sharing by the other members. A “writing meeting” format may be used, during which a member leads with a topic, the members spend a specified amount of time writing on the topic, and then members who wish to, may share what they have written with the group. Writing meetings allow members to practice the vital recovery tool of “writing,” and the material created can be submitted to the WSO for use in S-Anon literature under development.
A member of the group or an S-Anon member from another group might be asked to tell the story of their S-Anon recovery or to speak on a particular topic for a certain length of time. The meeting can then be opened for sharing.
Newcomer’s Meeting (Welcome Meeting)
We welcome all those who have been affected by another’s person’s sexual behavior. Groups that attract and retain newcomers tend to thrive, as we need newcomers for the growth of S-Anon. Remembering what is was like for us at our very first meeting reminds us of the importance of welcoming newcomers. One of the best ways to welcome a new person is to introduce yourself.
Newcomers are often welcomed at a special meeting, i.e., either one meeting or a series of three to six meetings held prior to, or during the regular meeting. One or more experienced S-Anon members lead the Welcome Meetings. They explain sexaholism as a disease, introduce the Twelve Steps and Traditions, and acquaint newcomers with our literature and how our meetings are conducted. Other groups have adopted an abridged version of Newcomer Meetings. If a newcomer arrives at a meeting without any prior S-Anon experience, an experienced member may meet privately with the newcomer for a short time, making sure that the person is seeking help for themselves (Tradition Three) and explaining some of the principles of the S-Anon program. Newcomer meetings also offer a forum for newcomers to ask questions about S-Anon and for experienced members to more fully explain concepts such as anonymity and share some of their own story to help the newcomer feel more at home. Newcomers can be given group phone lists or phone numbers of individuals willing to receive calls. If the group finances allow it, some groups also give each newcomer a copy of the S-Anon Checklist and/or a Newcomer’s Booklet.
After sharing what is called a “First-Step Inventory” with a Sponsor, members may choose to share their First Step with other members of their home group. A First Step is not the same as a Fourth Step Inventory or a Fifth Step with a sponsor or spiritual advisor; it is not about our character defects. In a First Step meeting we share at a deep level the events of our lives related to sexaholism that created our powerlessness and unmanageability and that caused us anger, shame, and pain. Then we commit ourselves to ending the self-destructive behavior that this inventory has revealed. The usual guidelines for sharing should be observed at a First Step meeting; that is, if the person sharing their First Step wishes to receive feedback, it should be shared after the meeting, one to one.
Group Conscience/Business Meeting
Groups usually hold regularly scheduled meetings to discuss matters that pertain to how the group operates. The meetings are typically short and are usually held either before or after the regular meeting. All members of the group are welcome and encouraged to attend and express their opinions and feelings. The section entitled “Group Decision-Making” includes guidelines for Group Conscience Business Meetings, and there is Service Literature titled “S-Anon Business Meetings and the Group Conscience Process” #L20 available for purchase and download from www.sanon.org.
Last Updated December 2017