Adult Survivors
of Child Abuse

a n o n y m o u s
a recovery program
for all survivors of
childhood abuse and
trauma who wish to
heal through applying
a new design for living
based on the 12 Steps
& 12 Traditions of AA
Adult Survivors of Child Abuse Anonymous --

ASCAA - a 12 step program - Adult Survivors of Child Abuse Anonymous



There are numerous types of meeting formats a group can decide to follow, and it'll have to decide which ones it believes will best help the membership. Then, too, larger groups can have multiple meetings through the week, and hold a different format in each gathering. It is generally a good idea for each of a group's meetings to elect its own secretary (and possibly a treasurer, food & literature persons, etc) who'll organize and run the actual meetings. These are temporary and rotating positions, often lasting no longer than six months at a time.
Suggested Meeting Formats      
General Info

The information on the web site is meant to be suggestive only. Although everything you'll find here has a basis in our own considerable experience, there's nothing hard and fast in ASCAA that demand following any specific set of pre-defined "rules." Each group and meeting is free to modify the meeting formats to fulfill its needs, some of which may change as the group grows in membership and becomes more unwieldy in size.

For example, it might be desirable to launch a new meeting as an hour long event in a private space, but change to 90 minutes in a public venue once an enthusiastic membership grows around them. A decision like this is simple enough, and is based on the needs of the group, not the individual member. "Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon ASCAA unity."

If one is looking for direction about how something should be done, we suggest turning to the 12 Traditions, as these are our most deliberate guidelines. Generally speaking, decisions that effect the group are made at a "Business Meeting" (more on that below) and are a matter of what we call the "group conscience." As the 2nd Tradition states, "Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern."

Because ASCAA uses a spiritual approach to recovery, prayers are occasionally used within the meeting, often to open and close. The one most typically used to open with is the "Serenity Prayer," and many groups close a meeting by holding hands and reciting the "Lord's Prayer" (or they might repeat the "Serenity Prayer").

The secretary will sometimes ask a member to read the 12 Steps and / or 12 Traditions at the top of a meeting, by way of reminding the group of ASCAA's process and purpose. Any announcements are made, especially as related to the behavior expected during the meeting (no smoking, parking regulations, the need for volunteers to help clean up after the meeting, etc).

Many groups will decide to have a rule against "cross-talk" (people responding directly to what someone else has shared) and most will remind the members that anonymity is the spiritual foundation of our recovery so that "What you hear here, let it stay here." Members never "out" each other in public.

At some point during the meeting the secretary will announce that every ASCAA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions. A basket, hat or can will be passed through the membership for individual donations, and collected by the treasurer who will be responsible for keeping track of these contributions, and for paying any group bills.

Typically ASCAA meetings are very cheap to run, the biggest expenses being any room rental and refreshments, along with any small miscellaneous expenses (like literature or photocopying costs). The treasurer's accounts of finances should be available at any time.

NOTE: Although brand new meetings can be established by any two ASCAA members in a private space (such as one's home) any group with a growing membership should generally seek a public space where meetings can be held. ASCAA's not a secret society, and has but one primary purpose -- to carry its message to the adult survivor of child abuse who still suffers. The only requirement for ASCAA membership is a desire to recover and heal from childhood abuse and trauma.

OPEN vs CLOSED Meetings -- The concept of an OPEN meeting is that the general public would be welcome to attend and even participate. Since this is an obvious opportunity for members to be recognized and known outside the privacy of the group, most groups hold CLOSED meetings where all in attendance must identify as having suffered from child abuse and trauma.


Speaker Meetings

Perhaps the most simple of all meeting formats is that where there's a featured speaker. This is a person who has been asked in advance to share his / her experience strength and hope to the membership. Usually the ASCAA secretary is responsible for scheduling a speaker who'll talk about what their youth was like, what happened in their adulthood and what its like now that they're in recovery.

He or she will often share for half the meeting, at which time there would be an invitation for sharing of three to five minutes from the membership. They'll raise their hands and be called on one at a time. The secretary is responsible for keeping the sharing on track and for not allow anyone to speak too long.


Sharing Meetings

Sharing or "regular" meetings are typically the most often used formats. After the readings and announcements the secretary might call on an individual to share whatever's on his or her mind for perhaps 10 minutes. This can often present a thread that other members will identify with. They'll raise their hands to be called on to share their own thoughts for three to five minutes.

When appropriate the secretary will let the group know time is running out and will bring the meeting to a close. Many secretaries will try to make sure anyone with a "burning desire" (deeply felt need to share) will be included.


Topic Meetings

At the typical Topic Meeting its understood that a specific topic, concept, issue or situation will be the focus of all the sharing. Topics can derive from a reading from 12 Step literature or can arise from a suggestion that comes from the membership. The secretary is responsible for keeping the meeting appropriately "on topic."

As usual, the secretary will also track when the group is running out of time and bring the meeting to a close.


Step / Tradition Study

The typical Step Study meeting provides an opportunity for the group to examine and share about one of the 12 Steps. Frequently a single step is discussed each week, so it takes 12 weeks (3 months) to address all of them. A lot of groups will precede the sharing part of the meeting with a reading of the step, and sometimes a short 10 or 15 minute sharing by an experienced member. Then the group will be open for others to share.

As an alternative, a rotation called a Tradition Study might be substituted, perhaps every fourth time, giving the members a better understanding of how ASCAA works.


Book Study

The "Big Book" of Alcoholics Anonymous is considered by many in that fellowship as the "how to" manuel for a new design for living. In fact, the first 164 pages have never been changed since the original printing in the late 1930s. A lot of groups start at the beginning of the book and read a section at a time to begin a meeting. When the meeting starts, they frequently pass a copy of the book between members, one after another, and individuals read a paragraph or two at a time.

When appropriate the secretary stops the reading and moves the group to the sharing part of the Book Study, inviting members to relate their experience, strength and hope on that Step.


Cross-talk Meetings

A so-called "Cross-talk Meeting" is a format that usually should not be tried unless there's a significant amount of recovery already present in the group. That's because, unlike almost all other meeting types, members are encouraged to directly address issues that've been shared by other members. They are also allowed to share more than once in each meeting, although the secretary must make sure no one person over-dominates the time.

Cross-talk Meetings, which are always "Closed" meetings, are not recommended unless and until a group feels it has a thick enough skin and enough healing among its membership to not take sharing that addresses their issues too personally.


Business Meetings

Many groups periodically hold what's referred to as a "Business Meeting" immediately following the conclusion of one of their larger regularly scheduled meetings, often once a month. They are used to discuss group issues such as finances and elections of new officers, and to allow all the members to help make decisions based on the "group conscience" (majority vote). The normal format is often a loose version of Robert's Rules.


Other Meetings

The information offered above is by no means a complete list of every meeting type, and many groups, especially smaller new groups, do very well using Sharing and / or Topic meeting formats only. How many meetings a group will hold, the type of meeting and how often it will hold them, is the kind of issue that would be discussed at, and decided on, in a Business Meeting (see above).
HOME page      

send comments to:

ASCA anonymous - a 12 step program
copyright 2014