Frequently Asked Questions – Working the Steps

  1. How do I work the Steps?

The simple answer:  never alone, never again.  If you work the steps alone, you bring only your own thinking and experiences to the process.  Nothing new is added.  Step Meetings have a multiplied benefit.  The individual grows and the home group grows.  The shares by “steppers” have a richness and depth that is inspirational to the new member.  They want more of what you have!

 There are many ways to accomplish Step Meetings.  Here are some examples:

One Step each month as part of the regular meeting.

Read the step and share around the room on that step.  The advantage of this approach is that it is an informal process, mixing new and seasoned members together to share their ESH on each step.  Each person has time to share and time to listen.  This format does not include the questions and deep thought of other methods, but it does keep the steps alive in your group meetings.

Share Partners, 2 or more people meeting together outside of the regular meeting.

Small groups may answer the questions and share their answers during the meeting or discuss the questions during the meeting and bring their answers back to share at the next meeting.  Homework done before the meeting requires each person to concentrate solely on their individual responses with honesty and willingness.  When the share partners come together and take turns to share each answer, minds are opened to other experiences and ways of thinking.

Formal Step Classes

These are set up on a different day than the regular group meeting.  The target participants are those who have been attending home group meetings for 3-6 months and have that internal feeling of “needing more.”  By having Step Meetings on a different day keeps the strength of the home group intact.

The starting size of the group does not matter, as some will drop off due to personal reasons.  By the end of Step 1 or 2, the group is typically closed to new participants because a bond of trust and unity has started forming.  People in the Step Class start to rely on each other when they stumble on a question or feel they’ve gotten in “over their heads.”

Working the Steps with a Sponsor

Nar-Anon Midwest is still a “young” region.  Many groups are lacking in someone who has worked the steps, sponsors, or available sponsors.  We encourage sponsorship within our groups, and suggest further Step Work, updating Step Work or deconstructing specific individual issues be accomplished through sponsorship.  Step Classes teach the process.  Living the steps develops sponsors!  It is an individual decision to be a sponsor or to request a sponsor.

  1. What materials do I need to Work the Steps?

Nar-Anon 36 is the CAL (Conference Approved Literature) workbook for doing the step study.

Paths to Recovery is an optional Step Guide that many find helpful.

The Nar-Anon Twelve Step Program is an optional, far less detailed handbook.  This is a good choice for someone who is curious, but not quite ready to begin working the steps.

Progress not Perfection is also a good primer before starting step classes.  It starts people writing down their answers to specific thoughts and is organized in such a way that it follows the steps in order.

Keep in mind that all CAL materials are copyright protected:

The fellowship relies on literature purchases to continue our primary purpose.  Many of us have spent thousands of dollars on addiction; the cost of our recovery is inexpensive by comparison!  Please do not copy these materials for handing out in your group.  We are financially responsible for our own recovery.

Note regarding outside literature:

Working the Steps is an intense process and we may find outside readings that “speak” to us.  While outside reading is encouraged, members are cautioned to focus on the questions posed and their personal answers.  We do not want to be diverted by other literature or outside thoughts.

  1. When should I start working the Steps?

It is suggested new members wait 3-6 months before starting the Steps.  This permits time to become familiar with and understand the language of Nar-Anon.  This provides time to get accustomed to the concept of sharing and listening, and the time to learn they can trust the protection and safety of the group.

Please see the above examples of literature that may be beneficial to the newer member who is anxious to learn about step work.

  1. What if I am afraid to work the steps?  What if I am afraid of what I might find?

What if I don’t know myself well enough to know what I think?  What if I am not sure about all this spiritual stuff?  Working the steps is a spiritual journey towards health and inner healing.  We are seeking answers to our questions.  It is a simple program for complex people.

It is always helpful to remember the slogans that have encouraging phrases such as:  First Things First; Easy Does It; Progress Not Perfection; and One Day at a Time.  We are embarking on a spiritual journey with, and in the loving care of the God of our understanding.  Our Higher Power will guide us up those steps one at a time – one experience, one day, one moment and one understanding at a time.  This is a gentle program because it takes time, introspection and acceptance.  When we set aside the time to quiet ourselves, to think, to answer, and then to share, it is helpful to ask our Higher Power for help.

Often memories or experiences long forgotten will come into our awareness.  It may be memories of how our actions, reactions or responses were first formed; old tapes that play in our heads, or consistent patterns of behavior from childhood or early adulthood.  Understanding of past “whys” may help us see that current and future choices can be changed in a positive way.  Willingness to try is all that is required to begin.  There is much to be gained and much baggage to lose!  A deeper understanding of our Higher Power grows as we move along this recovery path and begin to trust the process.

  1. Does everyone in Nar-Anon work the steps?

No.  The decision to work the steps is personal.  Some members do the steps once, some several times over a lifetime, and some never engage in step study.

  1. What is the total time it takes to work the steps?

Our experience has shown it takes 6 months to a year, depending on how many people, how much homework is assigned and how often your step group meets.

  1. How often do step groups meet?

Small groups of 2-4 may meet once a week.  Most formal classes meet once every 2 weeks.  Meeting further apart than every 2 weeks might affect the unity of the group as life events begin to interfere with our personal recovery.  There is a saying, “We always have time for the things we put first.”

  1. How much time per session?

It is a group decision of course, but 1 to 1 ½ hours is customary and keeps the intimacy without exhaustion.

  1. Where do Step Classes meet?

Again, this is a group decision.  You can meet in your normal meeting room after appropriate arrangements have been made, at a coffee shop or restaurant’s private meeting room, in a conference room of a public building such as the local library, or you can rotate around member’s homes.

  1. Who “leads” the Step Classes?

Step classes can be done with or without leaders.  The more appropriate term is facilitators as none of us are “in charge.”  Facilitators may be people who have previously worked the steps, previously been in a similar step class, complete novices, or a combination.  Facilitators are responsible for opening and closing the meeting, keeping on schedule and setting the assignment.  Beginning and ending with the Serenity Prayer or another Nar-Anon reading sets the mood for open minds and honest sharing.  Some groups have members take turns being the responsible one each class.

  1. What if time runs out before we are done with that week’s homework, or before everyone has had an opportunity to share?

You may agree to carry into the next session any question not finished.  You may choose to have each person share on the one question that “spoke” to them or that “troubled” them, especially when there are a lot of homework questions.  There is no need to worry.  These things will work themselves out.

  1. What if someone misses a class, or doesn’t do the homework? 

We are all adults and we are responsible only for ourselves.  We do not try to control how someone else works or doesn’t work their program or their step work.

  1. How do I answer the questions — how I feel now or how I felt before?

We encourage members to answer the questions as of the current time.  We may need or want to add experiences from the past that continue to influence our answers now.  Sometimes answers will change week to week.  Try always to stay in the present.

About the 12 Traditions

“Just as freedom for the individual comes from the 12 Steps, freedom is found within the family, work, friends, and home group by working the Traditions.”

These traditions can be worked in our home meetings, once a month, as a single- topic meeting.  The pertinent pages of the SESH book are clearly marked in the index.

The WSC (World Service Conference) Literature Committee is currently working on the 12 Traditions Study Guide Workbook. This is not a quick or easy process.  We look forward to the draft version being distributed in 2018, following the biennial WSC conference.