Thank you for asking about Heart t’ Heart meetings. We would like to describe a typical Heart t’ Heart face-to-face meeting for you, so you will know what to expect when you attend a meeting or start a new Heart t’ Heart group.
Meetings are held in various locations, including libraries, schools, hospitals, office buildings, community centers and private homes. The meetings vary in size. You can expect to see anywhere between three or four, on up to a dozen or more people in attendance. When feasible, group members sit in a circle so participants can see each other during sharing. Larger groups sometimes split up for sharing to allow more people an opportunity to share.
Who Attends Heart t’ Heart?
People anticipating attending a Heart t’ Heart meeting for the first time often wonder what the people there will be like. The people at Heart t’ Heart meetings are just average people—like you’d meet in most Latter-day Saint environments. Most significantly, those who attend Heart t’ Heart have come seeking help with a challenge or struggle in their lives. Most who attend Heart t’ Heart also actively attend Church meetings. All are welcome, however, regardless of Church activity or standing. “The only requirement for Heart t’ Heart membership is a desire to stop participating in compulsive addictive behaviors” (Tradition Three).
What if I See Someone There Who Knows Me?
Newcomers are often concerned about the issue of confidentiality, or as we say, “anonymity.” Tradition Twelve encourages us to focus on principles, not personalities. Be assured that everyone at a meeting is seeking help with their own challenges. They desire the same confidentiality you do. Additionally, we continually stress the need for anonymity. Every meeting ends with the admonition to respect the privacy of others.
Another issue many newcomers face is the fear of being judged. Often the behavior or circumstances that brought us to Heart t’ Heart has caused us intense shame. However, we find that the people we meet at Heart t’ Heart meetings not only respect our anonymity, they also understand and respect our need for acceptance and loving, non-judgmental support. The positive climate of our Heart t’ Heart meetings helps us find the courage to admit more honestly to ourselves, as well as to others, our deep need for change. As we become more open in our Heart t’ Heart meetings, we also become more honest with our loved ones, and in other areas of our lives.
Welcome and Introduction
Heart t’ Heart meetings always begin with prayer. While many Twelve Step groups (such as A.A. or O.A.) use the Lord’s Prayer or the Serenity Prayer, in Heart t’ Heart meetings we pray as we do in our Latter-day Saint Church meetings.
After the prayer, people introduce themselves to the group, by first name only. As mentioned, our fellowship adheres to the principles of anonymity found in other Twelve Step organizations. While it is not necessary to refrain from using full names, most people choose to do so as it encourages a spirit of mutual humility which is needed in seeking recovery. Our meetings are safe places where we can share without worrying about gossip. Some members feel comfortable briefly identifying their addiction or compulsive behavior when introducing themselves, but this is not required.
Steps and Traditions
We read the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions in our meetings. They remind us of the principles that help us in the recovery process, emphasizing our relationship with Heavenly Father and the Savior. We also discuss the importance of specific tools that help us in recovery, such as prayer, pondering the scriptures, writing, and service.
Next an envelope or basket may be passed to collect small, voluntary “Seventh Tradition” donations to help pay for rent on the room or other group expenses. At this point in the meeting we may also discuss items of business, such as upcoming events or opportunities for service.
Three major activities fill the rest of the meeting time, depending on the wishes of the group: book study, personal writing, and sharing (explained below). The literature studied includes He Did Deliver Me From Bondage, the scriptures, or other approved Twelve Step literature. Opportunity may be available for individuals to write about insights gained through study of the literature, or through quiet reflection.
Every meeting, regardless of the focus, includes time for individual sharing. Often in sharing or listening to the sharing of others, we feel the Spirit’s witness of the Lord’s love for us and His counsel guiding our ongoing recovery efforts. No one is required to share. One may choose to simply listen.
Sharing should center on the individual’s experiences and efforts to use the tools and the steps in their own program of recovery. Participants are discouraged from addressing others in their sharing, or commenting on the sharing of others. Negative comments about Church leaders or theology are strongly discouraged. Each person should focus their attention and their comments on their own efforts, challenges, blessings and progress.
The tradition in Twelve Step groups is to share our “experience, strength and hope.” In other words, while we may mention our struggles, we focus our thoughts on the solution, which is the help we are receiving as we come unto Christ and are perfected through His marvelous atonement. Most sharing centers on the ways the Lord is blessing our lives.
Heart t’ Heart meetings are safe, spiritual, uplifting and focused on recovery. We do not dwell on the sordid details of our lives, our addictions or compulsive behaviors. We acknowledge our challenges, but we emphasize the Savior’s role in helping us overcome them. We focus our time together on developing a greater relationship with Him, for it is only through Him that we receive true recovery or remission of our sins.
If you are interested in starting a Heart t’ Heart group in your area, materials are available to help you begin, and support continues once groups are registered with the General Service Board of Heart t’ Heart.
May God bless you in hearing this message and in finding the fellowship you are seeking.
Click here for a .pdf version of the pamphlet, What to Expect at a Heart t’ Heart meeting.