Self-help groups bring together people who suffer from the same illness or the same psychological or social problem. Together with others, they want to change something in order to better cope with their life situation – either as affected persons or as relatives. In the group they find understanding and share knowledge and experience. The principle of confidentiality applies – everything that is discussed in the group should remain in the group and not be made public.
Self-organized initiatives bring together people who are committed to a common issue or who want to draw attention to grievances and contribute to their elimination – in the health, social, cultural or ecological fields.
For example, they advocate a culture of sharing, environmental protection, sustainability and social coexistence, or are committed to combating discrimination against minorities.
Both forms are based on the idea of self-help. We speak of self-help when people come together who are united by a common theme, and joint meetings take place whose form, content and objectives can be co-determined by all participants.
The meetings and other activities of the group are planned and carried out by its members on their own responsibility and are not guided by professional specialists (therapists, social workers, doctors or similar). Participation is voluntary and usually free of charge. The preparation and implementation of the meetings is done on a voluntary basis.