Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Recovery Inc: A Cognitive Tools Support Group

This a repost from two years ago.  I continue to believe in the potential effectiveness of this support group for people experiencing anxiety, depression and other disorders.

There's a little known but excellent support group resource available here in Austin, Texas and in hundreds of cities nationwide. It's called Recovery, Inc. It also goes by Recovery International.

The names are misleading which may explain the relative obscurity of the support group. Recovery is now a term that most people, including myself, associate with substance abuse recovery. But Recovery, Inc. is a self-help support group designed to assist people struggling with anxiety and depression. It can also help people with a variety of different psychological and emotional difficulties. For a list of the many struggles Recovery, Inc. can offer assistance with, click here. People who have alcohol and drug abuse issues can be helped, too, so long as their substance abuse is under control.

I assume the name confusion is why Recovery, Inc. has been undergoing some name changes. Their website tells me it is now being referred to as the Abraham Low Self Help Systems after the group's original creator, Abraham Low, M.D. You can read more, here.

But the name isn't so important. What matters is the group's core focus: teaching and helping group members persistently use cognitive skills to reduce symptoms.

I've had a few patients attend these groups. I have been consistently impressed with the quality of the skills taught there. I often refer my clients to the group in the hopes they will use it as a place to practice the cognitive skills learned in my individual therapy sessions, learn new skills above and beyond what our sessions have covered, and gain social support. I also refer individuals who are not attending therapy but would like some free-of-charge group support.
Recovery, Inc. teaches tools to help people cope better with situations that provoke unpleasant feelings and emotions. They call these tools "Recovery Language."
One typical example: Many people experience significant anxiety walking into a support group for the very first time. Anxiety that, for so many, is anticipated ahead of time to such an extent that they fail to go to the group at all. Typical thoughts are, "I won't know anyone and I'll feel stupid." "I won't know what to say." "I'll be too nervous to talk and then I'll look ridiculous." "What if I walk into the room and everyone stares at me?"

The anxiety, fed by these negative, fear inducing thoughts, can mount until one feels overwhelmed and stays home, or stays in the car and drives away.
Recovery language might encourage you to "spot" and replace these negative thoughts with more realistic and empowering ones, such as:

"These thoughts are distressing, not dangerous."

"It is perfectly average for someone to feel nervous when walking into a new group."

"I can do this. I am capable."
"I will move my muscles and start heading inside."

"Bear the discomfort and comfort will come."

For more examples of personal situations, use this link to get to the in the self-help forums.

I've had a few patients attend only one meeting. Their complaint was that they didn't quite "get it." As I understand the group format, members use Recovery Language and new people feel a bit lost and confused. My advice to patients is this: Plan to attend at least three groups. See if some of the initial confusion, which again is average (a recovery term) lessens over time. See if you don't start to feel a little more comfortable. Find out how you can learn the Recovery Language for yourself. You will likely be encouraged to buy a book but it isn't essential.
So take the first step. Move your muscles to use the following link to find the support group closest to you.
I would love to hear readers first hand experience with Recovery, Inc. so feel free to share in the comment section.


  1. I like the sound of Recovery Inc (although I agree that the name could be misleading) and recovery language. I've been toying with the idea of assisting (and participating) in a depression and anxiety group here. There's the South African Depression and Anxeity Group (not a sexy name!)for starters. Would be interested to read more from participants of these groups. Incidentally, I'm more familiar with the Yalom-style group (named after existential therapist Irvin Yalom) which can work pretty well.

  2. I haven't heard of Yalom-style but want to look into it. Always open to ideas.

  3. As a nine year member or Recovery International I can say that the recovery Method literally saved my life. All of the meetings are lead by unpaid non-professional mental health consumers and meetings have expanded to telephone and on line. Recovery can be a little overwhelming on the first visit but after 3 people will start to get it. After 6 weeks they should see some improvement and after 6 months should see some real progress.

  4. I was experiencing much anger and depression, Recovery Intl was suggested to me and I went. Recovery saved my life. In about six months I was feeling stable and right now I am feeling cured of my symptoms of bipolar disorder.

  5. I too was saved by Recovery. It was 1968 and I was suffering terribly from anxiety and post-partum depression. Brooke Shields, the future Poster Girl for this type of depression, wouldn't be on the horizon for decades. But my husband had a friend who had a wife who was similarly afflicted and brought home news of a meeting being held in a church near our home. It was called Recovery, Inc. The tools were simple, but brilliant little gems aimed toward self-help, a gift that keeps on working. I say, hurrah, hurrah! Long Live Recovery, Inc.

  6. AnonymousMay 01, 2012

    So good topic really i like any post talking about Health Articles but i want to say thing to u Health not that only ... you can see in Health ideas Control and the body-mind and more , you shall search in Google and Wikipedia about that .... thanks a gain ,,,

  7. THank you for your blog. I have had so much difficulty locating a "recovery inc" meeting anywhere around me which is quite odd as back in the late 1970's early 1980's I literally attended a meeting every single day of the week. These meetings, if anyone is interested completely SAVED MY LIFE as the "doctors" no offense, didn't get it. I would describe my symptoms and the doctors would tell me things like "lose weight, you'll feel better" and other ridiculous one liners. It was the secretary of one of these doctors who overheard my complaints to her "boss" one day (her boss the doctor of course)who took it upon herself to call me at my house later that evening and invite me to a meeting. When she told me "mary, I KNOW whats wrong with you" "I can help you" "meet me xxxx" I could not believe it! She saved me. She invited me to a meeting which she actually was the leader of, picked me up over the next several weeks and took me to other places where there were meetings. RECOVERY, Inc. SAVED MY LIFE, with as you wrote little things like "its distressing, but not dangerous" that one liner has saved me SO MANY TIMES IE: I cant get into an elevator (phobia) So, if you or anyone who reads this KNOWS a website or any other media wher I can actually find a MEETING to attend, I would be ever so greatful, as it is now 2013 and I cannot believe that there is not a meeting anywhere around where I live. In the extremely crowded suburbs of Washington D.C. there is not a meeting in site? I find this hard to believe. ANy help? Anybody? Im even providing my email address, and NO I do NOT SELL AVON PRODUCTS so please don't be afraid to email me if you have any information that may help me. Im So STUCK, as a lifetime later I NEED RECOVERY AGAIN! HELPPPPPPPPPPPPPP Thanks everyone! Especially for this site.


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