Funding: Fetzer Institute
This study focused on helping behaviors and argued that good works as manifested by helping activities are integral to the study of the relationship between spirituality and recovery. We drew on the theory of the Helper Therapy Principle which posits a therapeutic benefit from the activity of helping: that in helping another person, the helper is helped. Helping others is evident in the mutual help program of Alcoholics Anonymous, as well as in dominant treatment approaches like the Minnesota Model, the Social Model and the Therapeutic Community. The primary aim of this study was to examine the role of helping behaviors and helper therapy in the relationship between spirituality and recovery. To do this, we developed and validated a Helper Therapy Scale that measures helping behaviors in recovery. In developing items for the scale, we took special care to include potential helping activities for persons with different lengths of sobriety, including newcomers who may be in treatment (or not) as well as those with much longer time sober (5 years plus). To assess traditional measures of spirituality, we also administered Fetzer’s short forgiveness scale, Pargament’s brief religious coping scale, and the daily spiritual experience instrument (long form). AA involvement was captured using our Alcoholics Anonymous affiliation scale.