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What can we learn from Alcoholics Anonymous?

When stigmatized people find fellow sufferer and grow out of misery ...

Photo of Stephan Kardos
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This is admittedly a quite distant view on the challenge. Nevertheless, I am wondering how AA's model could be applied on this challenge. I can imagine that persons that went bankrupt or spend their money in addictive manner are similarly stigmatized likewise alcoholics. Talking about it is taboo and you are left alone with all your fears and suffering.

Would it help to build a community for all those facing a financially difficult phase? Is a similar "program" applicable on the financial issue? How might a preventive rather than a "fire-fighting" version look like?


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Photo of Joan Cabré Puig

This is truly a very interesting subject. Unlike alcoholism or other addictions that usually imply a clear physical dependence, the danger of money mismanagement, compulsive wasting, gambling and similar disorders is often underestimated only because it is not physically noticeable. Nonetheless, it is a problem that an increasing number of people suffer from, only to find themselves with little or no means to deal with it.

After some research, I've been able to find only one financial therapy association (, which provides a short list of professionals, all of them working in the US and possibly charging a fee for their services that might exclude the majority of the population affected by the problem. Overall, this fact reinforces my initial theory that there is little or no availability of counseling resources or special programs aiming to tackle this type of personal struggle.

You can read further about the existing financial therapy on the next article:

Photo of Stephan Kardos

Hey Joan, thx for this awesome contribution. Great sources I still have to read in detail. However, I am with you that "money matters" (up to addictions like compulsive consume or gambing) is a delicate issue.

Maybe the bar to "admit" to yourself that you can not manage your money is even higher. I mean everybody is supposed to know how to manage it, right? Yet in today's world we are pretty disconnected to tangible money, paying a lot of things digitally and facing constant price increases and changes.

Looking forward to hear some more insights and take this further in the idea phase.

Photo of Em Havens

Wow, great resource share, Joan, and Stephan, thanks for this provocation. The idea of financial therapy really inspires to me think more deeply around what we mean when we're looking to "financially empower". Arriving at financial empowerment is a journey, that is a layered and complex and quite varied for many people (similar to the journey of an AA member). This is a great example of how communities can shift people's behavior and makes me wonder, What are other examples of ways we can change people's behavior in a sustainable, step by step way?

Photo of Sanjay Bhargava


You are on the money. I think there are tremendous learning's from AA that can be applied for solving financial empowerment. You may want to edit your post and attach the twelve concepts of World Service PDF . There is also a link