Why 21 Steps?
This programme provides a psychological framework for the complex process of healing from child abuse and moving on with life. It combines elements that are drawn from the recovery movement (such as Alcoholics Anonymous) and emphasises:
Recognising and resolving past pain.
Identifying coping behaviours that no longer work.
Developing new skills that foster self esteem and healthy relationships.
Many ideas in the 12 step programmes may be valuable for survivors of child abuse, but some are not.
In particular, “surrendering to a higher power”. The real challenge for many survivors is to find resources within. The source of power and control used to come from their parent, carer or abuser, therefore they need to question old, persistent patterns and maintain control for themselves.
Also there may be the belief that the individual committed wrongs, and must make amends to others for those wrongs. Addictive behaviours do harm self and others. However, holding all the responsibility for wrongdoing can be harmful to survivors of child abuse. As children, wrongdoing was done to them and their abuse was not their fault. Each situation is different, and many adult survivors do not feel they should make amends for behaviour that stemmed from circumstances they had no control over as as child.
Over a six month period, survivors share their abuse and recovery experiences; receive support and affirmation for their efforts; try out new, more adaptive behaviours and, in so doing, better understand themselves and their recovery process. At their own pace, survivors are able to develop healthier behaviours and relationship patterns. They build increased confidence, mastery and a sense of responsibility as a result .