Conduct 12 step group

12 Steps Facilitation


5- Conduct 12 Step group


This page provides facilitators with step-by-step suggestions on how to structure and conduct 12 Step group.


1. Establish your 12 Steps method

2. Ascertain participants

3. Delegate your roles

4. Devise facilitation guidelines

5. Devise participant rules

6. Devise weekly schedule

7. Devise session format

8. Conduct initiation meetings


How to Conduct 12 Step group meetings


1st – Establish your 12 Steps method

  • Conducting a 12 Step group requires a lot of organizing and attention to detail, and as facilitators you must work cohesively as a team. Needless to say, you have all worked the 12 Steps of a particular Fellowship — and now are going to put that knowledge to use in taking your group through them in the same manner. Since each of us has their own interpretation and experience of working the 12 Steps, for the purpose of your 12 Step group you need to agree among yourselves on one approach to guide your group through them. For example, you may have worked the Steps of NA using NA’s Step working guide, while your co-facilitator may have worked them based on another NA conference-approved text. So to begin, it is a good idea to discuss amongst yourselves how each of you has worked your Steps and what has helped your understanding of them — and then agree on one format for your Step Study Group. What you want to achieve is unity in the message and agreement on the exact way you will be taking your group through the 12 Steps. What you want to avoid – especially once you have started your group — are differences of opinion or clashes amongst yourselves regarding the “best” way or “my” way to work a particular Step. So decide from the outset that you will work as a team and guide your group with one voice and in one way.
  • Most of us who conduct 12 Step groups use a world conference-approved Fellowship book or workbook.  This is highly recommended. Using such a text enables you to stick to an established format and provides a clear guide for leading others through the 12 Steps in an organized and structured way. Not only is this way effective, but it is also the simplest method. Using an approved workbook means saving yourself the time and trouble of coming up with your own format. For example, you can guide your group through the 12 Steps as suggested in Narcotics Anonymous’ “Step Working Guide”. In this conference-approved workbook each Step is described in a chapter and is followed by questions. You can devote a session to a particular chapter on the Step you are studying that week. Group members can take turns reading this chapter with you, as facilitators indicate places of significance that need highlighting. As homework, participants can answer the questions at the end of that chapter, and you can spend the following session discussing their answers and what they have understood from last week’s readings. In addition, you can add readings and information from other conference-approved literature, along with your own experience of how the application of a particular Step has benefited your recovery.
  • The way you format and guide your 12 Step group through the 12 Steps is up to you as facilitators to decide.  But once you have decided on a format, stay with it – be consistent. Making changes half way through the course will simply create confusion. As has been pointed out, using a conference-approved Step workbook saves time and effort. Another very important reason for using such a text is that by doing so you can be relatively secure in the knowledge that the way you are guiding others is based on the collective wisdom of the Fellowship – and not simply your own.


2nd – Ascertain participants

  • Next you need to establish whom your 12 Step group is aimed towards. For example, can anyone – with any type of addiction — attend your group, or is it for drug addicts only? Would you, for instance, be OK with a food or sex addict attending your group? It’s simply a matter of being clear at the beginning about your group’s objectives. Most of us who have conducted Step Study Groups have found that if we let it be known the Steps of which Fellowship we shall be working on, we can then leave it to each individual to decide if they want to join. We need to make it clear, though, that our group is focused on working the solution and recovery program for a specific problem and might not be as effective for other types of addictions.
  • We can ask our group participants to be mindful of the primary objective of our 12 Step group and to avoid discussing other types of problems. Having said this, there is no reason people suffering from any kind of addiction should not benefit from our 12 Step group. After all, apart from Step 1, which presents the problem, the rest of the Steps are the same in all Fellowships. And they all offer a path toward recovery, to a life free from addiction.


3rd – Delegate your roles

  • Facilitators need to establish individual roles among themselves for their 12 Step group. When you know what each of you is supposed to do and what your role and responsibilities are, then you have a better chance of conducting a successful 12 Step group. Delegation of your roles as facilitators means there will be relative equal distribution of work. This way no one will feel overwhelmed, or confused. The aim of delegating responsibilities is to help you work better as a team and head off conflict that could cause one of you to become discouraged and ultimately quit the group.
  • Ideally, you should have at least three facilitators for conducting a 12 Step group. Having three allows for all the work involved to be equally distributed amongst you. For Step Study Groups with large numbers of group participants, the ratio of 1 facilitator per 5 group participants is ideal.
  • The recommended roles for facilitators are:


1) Main Facilitator

  • The main facilitator who conducts each session and who guides the group through the readings and the Steps.


2) Attendance Facilitator

  • The person who keeps a weekly attendance record of group participants. This facilitator talks to any group member who has missed more than two sessions in a row, explaining that missing sessions impedes the progress of everyone in the group. This facilitator may have to ask a participant to leave if they are unable to attend regularly or abide with the Step Study Group rules.
  • The other responsibility for this facilitator is to support the main speaker during the sessions. For instance, if the main facilitator needs help explaining a particular aspect of a Step or does not have any experience in relation to a particular issue, then the co-facilitator is there to give their perspective on the issue.
  • For a sample of an Attendance sheet in Word version, which you can alter according to your group’s size and where you can keep record of group participant’s attendance, please refer to: 12 Step Group Worksheets


3) Finance Facilitator

  • Person who collects the rent for the venue from group participants and also acts as auxiliary support for the facilitators.
  • The main responsibility of the rent collector is to make sure that every participant, including the facilitators, has contributed equally to paying the rent for the venue.
  • In addition it is the finance facilitator’s responsibility to collect the money for any other costs such as copy of hand-outs made for group participants.
  • For a sample of a Finance Sheet in Word version, which you can revise according to your venue’s rent requirements and group’s size, please refer to: 12 Step Group Worksheets


4th – Devise facilitation guidelines

  • Now that you have assigned your roles as facilitators, you need to establish some guidelines among yourselves. This will help you work more effectively as a team and will ensure your group is being successfully conducted according to its criteria’s and objectives.
  • For suggestions on how to set guidelines among yourselves and for your group members, please refer to: Facilitation guidelines


5th – Devise group rules

  • To help your group adhere to its primary objective of taking participants systematically through the 12 Steps within a specific time frame, you need to set some rules and criteria for group participants. This is for the greater good of your 12 Step group and ensures its ability to function effectively. Basically, by having rules you are guarding against group members acting in a way that may be detrimental to the objectives and progress of your 12 Step group. Setting rules will also help your group members keep their focus on working their 12 Steps.
  • For suggestions on how to set group participant rules, please refer to: 12 Step Group Rules


6th – Devise weekly schedule

  • Finally you need to create a weekly timetable schedule. This will help you plan the material and the Step you will cover in each week’s session and provide you with a time frame indicating how long your group will last. In addiction you need to devise a system for group participants who do not have a sponsor to work their Steps 5 and 8.
  • For suggestions on how to devise a weekly schedule to systematically take your Step Study Group through the 12 Steps, please refer to: 12 Step Weekly Schedule


7th – Devise session format

  • Then you would need to establish the format for your 12 Step group – that is, how each session will be organized and conducted.
  • For a suggested sample of how to conduct a group session, please refer to: 12 Step Session Format


8th – Conduct initiation meetings

  • Now that you have established all the practicalities, you need to hold an initiation meeting before you start you 12 Step group. These are meetings aimed at raising awareness of your upcoming Step Study so that people interested in joining can see for themselves what the Group is about, and can ask questions, and decide whether they would like to participate.
  • For a suggested sample of how to conduct an initiation meeting, please refer to: 12 Step Group Initiation Meetings


  • There are a variety of ways you can raise awareness about your upcoming 12 Step group, one of which is through a flyer. So long as you do not use any 12 Steps Fellowship logos on them nor distribute them in any Fellowship meetings they can act as an effective way for people to learn about your upcoming 12 Step group.
  • For more information on how to create a flyer, please refer to: 12 Step Group Logistics


  • Some 12 Step group facilitators provide a certificate of completion to group participants upon completion of the course of study, such as the sample shown below. Although such a certificate is obviously not in any sense official, it does serve an important purpose. It is a token of recognition for group participants that they made their recovery a number one priority, that they worked hard, that they put in the time, and that they took the actions necessary to complete their 12 Steps towards a new way of life in freedom.
  • For a Word version sample of a 12 Step group certificate you can adapt according to your needs and preferences, please refer to: 12 Step Group Worksheets

  12 Step study group sample certificate

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