I have been developing my dream of using this approach with children for quite some time. About nine years ago, I thoroughly searched the Internet and other sources to see if I could find the twelve-step therapy solution being used to help children with their problems. I also contacted Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, asking the same question. Other than programs geared for young people who are impacted by a family member’s drinking, Alateen, or A.A. itself for young alcoholics, I have found not one situation of children being helped by using the same principles and steps.
Regarding the “power greater than me”, the “higher power”, in the Steps … This does not have to be a divine power. A higher power can simply be someone other than one’s self – someone with greater power who can be trusted and reached out to (i.e., grandmother, parent, teacher), removing the spiritual component to make it more applicable to a wider more diverse group. It is not uncommon for one to begin with “the group” as their higher power.
Wild West Way! Step Three:
I have made a decision to reach out for some Power greater than me.
The question to be asked of a new member is, “Are you willing to believe in a power greater than you?”
If the answer is yes, then onward and upward. If not, the question posed is, “How well has your way been working?” This takes one back to the need for help and a willingness to be willing. It is important in this process of working the steps, especially the first time through, to focus on behaviors rather than changing beliefs – to do what is taught in working the steps. The beliefs come as a result of taking the actions.
Having a coach as a partner during personal growth is wise. Mentoring – sharing solutions, experiences, strength, and hope – is good In 12-step programs, this person is called a sponsor. A sponsor has had the same difficulty and been guided to solutions, and has a sincere desire to be helpful. Sponsors lead by example and model the desired changes and good behavior. The sponsor has a sponsor. To be in the middle of sponsorship, serving and helping others while being guided and held accountable is a win-win situation.
We will need a different name other than “sponsor” for this role in Wild West Way! Perhaps “guide”?
A summary of the 12-step process is:
- admitting that one cannot control another person or a situation
- recognizing a greater power that can give strength
- examining past errors with the help of a sponsor/mentor/guide (experienced member)
- making amends for these errors • learning to live a new life with a new code of behavior
- helping others who are hurting and feel powerless
(more in pdf)