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Subst Use Misuse. 2007;42(11):1767-81.

A brief scale for measuring helping activities in recovery: the brief helper therapy scale.

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Alcohol Research Group, Emeryville, California 94608, USA.



Helping others is evident in the philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous, and is emphasized in formal treatment. However, helping among recovering alcoholics has not been studied, in part because of a lack of helping measures.


This study developed a Brief Helper Therapy Scale to capture helping among individuals with varying lengths of recovery. The 26-item long version of the Helper Therapy Scale was developed from qualitative interviews (n = 21) and item analysis of responses from 200 recovering alcoholics with differing lengths of recovery. Three subscales assessed Recovery, Life, and Community Helping. This brief version was created using an iterative process of item analysis designed to yield good internal consistency and representation of different types of helping. Helping was assessed as a continuous measure of how much time had been spent on each activity in the past week.


The resulting 9-item Brief Helper Therapy Scale demonstrated strong internal consistency (alpha = 0.83), but did not correlate well with psychological and spirituality measures used to assess construct validity. The Brief Helper Therapy Scale can be completed in about 5 minutes. Those in early recovery reported move involvement in recovery helping, with service in AA a notable exception. Those with the longest recovery focused more on community helping.


Findings suggest that persons more stable in recovery move beyond a singular focus on recovery helping and demonstrate that people in recovery do contribute to society - potentially dispelling some of the stigma associated with alcoholism.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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