A Comparison of Espoused Theories of Self- and Mutual Help: Implications for Mental Health Professionals

Lisa McFadden, Edward Seidman, Julian Rappaport

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Nonprofessional helping organizations, known as self- or mutual-help groups, are viewed as homogeneous, varying primarily in the problem addressed. However, there is great diversity in their methods, even among groups addressing similar problems, which has important implications for referring clinicians. Results of this study, which is a content analysis of the literature of 2 internationally known organizations for the mentally ill, suggest nonprofessional helping organizations are not homogeneous. Techniques of self-help based on authority, as opposed to mutual-help based on interpersonal and spiritual growth, characterize some of the differences. Groups also differ in problems addressed and help strategies offered. This study discusses the implications of these differences for mental health professionals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)515-520
Number of pages6
JournalProfessional Psychology: Research and Practice
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 1992


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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