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When engaged in self-help, people often use publicly available information, or support groups—on the Internet as well as in person—in which people in similar situations work together. From early examples in pro se legal practice and home-spun advice, the connotations of the word have spread and often apply particularly to education, business, exercise, psychology, and psychotherapy, as commonly distributed through the popular genre of self-help books. According to the APA Dictionary of Psychology, potential benefits of self-help groups that professionals may not be able to provide include friendship, emotional support, experiential knowledge, identity, meaningful roles, and a sense of belonging.
Many different self-help group programs exist, each with its own focus, techniques, associated beliefs, proponents, and in some cases leaders. Concepts and terms originating in self-help culture and Twelve-Step culture, such as recovery, dysfunctional families, and codependency have become integrated into mainstream language.: 188
Self-help groups associated with health conditions may consist of patients and caregivers. As well as featuring long-time members sharing experiences, these health groups can become support groups and clearinghouses for educational material. Those who help themselves by learning and identifying health problems can be said to exemplify self-help, while self-help groups can be seen more as peer-to-peer or mutual-support groups.