Before I first came into AA I wasn’t sure what meetings themselves would actually be like. Meetings can take several different forms, and I’ve found that I prefer some types to others. The names of listings within AA directories would feature words like “Freethinkers”, “Daily Reflections” and “Big Book Study” which refer to the focus or format of each meeting, this helped me suddenly make much more sense of things.
I’ve found it very useful to mix up my meetings in early sobriety, it helps get a better understanding of the programme, and helps you to get comfortable visiting new rooms and meeting new people in the programme. I’ve included a list of the meeting types that I’ve encountered so far below, but this will by no means be an exhaustive list, so I’ll update this regularly along my recovery journey…
Chair / Speaker
The most common meeting type I’ve found so far are meetings where the main focus is a single speaker or “chair”. Here the meetings may open with readings, followed by a single person speaking for 15 or 20 minutes about a certain topic or around their own experiences. After they have finished the meeting usually opens up for others to share back to the speaker and group. I’ve also attended some longer meetings where they have 2-3 people speaking for a shorter length of time alongside sharing back from the group.
Step and Tradition
These meetings will have a different focus each week, covering both the twelve steps and twelve traditions. The group will often read material from the ‘Big Book’ or ‘Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions’, or have a speaker who gives a chair around a particular topic or step, with sharing back at the end. The group will rotate focus to a different step or tradition at each meeting.
Daily Reflections / As Bill Sees It
Meetings will focus around selected reading(s) from either ‘Daily Reflections’ or ‘As Bill Sees It’. Both books contain passages, thoughts and commentary around a wide range of topics from the programme. The group will then share back around the daily readings for the rest of the meeting.
Meetings which have a focus on newcomers or people in their first year of sobriety. Anyone can attend these regardless of how long they have been in the programme, I have personally found these meetings good to attend in early sobriety, as you meet and hear the experience of other fellows who are at a similar stage of recovery to you.
Big Book Study
Here the focus is around a particular chapter or section of the Big Book. I found it more helpful to attend these after I had read through the book through with my sponsor, however this won’t be the same for everyone. After having worked the steps, I find these continually useful to understand and gain different perspectives around the core text of the programme.
Just for Today
Focus around the ‘Just For Today‘ reading, with the group then sharing back around the reading itself, or how it relates to their recovery and feelings today.
Meetings will have focus around a particular topic of the programme each week. The topic may be selected in advance or chosen from suggestions at the start of the meeting.
Speaker or sharing has a focus on feelings during recovery or on how people are feeling today.
Agnostic / Freethinkers
AA meetings where there is less focus/emphasis on “God” as part of the programme.