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Emotions Anonymous (EA) – 12 Step Program

What is Emotions Anonymous?

Emotions Anonymous is a 12-step program that was created for individuals who have the desire to improve their emotional well-being. The group focuses on the same 12-step process and program as Alcoholics Anonymous, with the idea of improving and recovering from emotional and mental illness. Similar to other 12-step programs, Emotions Anonymous is a diverse group of individuals who differ in all areas of their lives except for the fact that they all suffer from emotional illness.

The fellowship has continued to grow since its birth. With groups in over 30 countries, there are more than 600 active groups throughout the world. Emotions Anonymous has its own literature including “Emotions Anonymous,” “It Works if you Work It,” the daily meditation book “Today” and much more.

The History of Emotions Anonymous

The program began in 1966 in St. Paul, Minnesota. A 55-year-old woman named Marion F. had noticed a newspaper article that stated the success of Alcoholics Anonymous and how the 12 steps could potentially help with the problem of emotional illness. The group began as Neurotics Anonymous and at the first meeting, had about a dozen people in attendance. Some of the members were even current members of Al-Anon. After the first meeting was held, the media caught wind of the newly formed group and by the next meeting, there were over 65 people in attendance. From then on, the group continued to get bigger and bigger.

As the meeting grew, discord arose and the Minnesota Intergroup Association (MIA) tried to settle the issues between the group, but eventually, Emotions Anonymous was formed in its place and was the only group the MIA associated with. Once the official group was decided, Alcoholics Anonymous gave permission to the fellowship to adapt and utilize their 12 steps and 12 traditions, officializing Emotions Anonymous in 1971. The first annual convention for Emotions Anonymous was held in 1972, along with the ratification of the bylaws and the election of the first Service Board of Trustees. In 1978, “Emotions Anonymous” was the first piece of literature created, along with “Today,” which was published in 1987. As the program moves forward, literature is still being created, with a book published in 2019 titled “Welcoming Spirituality.”

How the Program Works

The program of Emotions Anonymous focuses on the recovery of emotional and mental illness. The nonprofit organization allows individuals to come together and build a support system to find tools for recovery and solutions for their problems today. Whatever emotional difficulties a newcomer may be experiencing, the group welcomes all individuals to find a place to solve these issues. There is no requirement to share when an individual first attends an Emotions Anonymous meeting. Many new members can sometimes find it more beneficial to listen to others and gain some insight into how the program works.

With material available to the newcomer on the official website, the group encourages members to begin working the 12 steps of the program so that members can recover from emotional illness, better their emotional situations and begin experiencing healthy emotions. One of the most important tools in the program to improve its effectiveness is to obtain a sponsor. A sponsor can help newcomers work the 12 steps of the program and is someone who can assist in keeping their sponsees emotionally sober, offer their own support and experiences, is someone to confide and trust in, provides honest feedback and can recognize when a relapse is occurring or a sponsee isn’t working the steps of their program. Tips on finding a sponsor are also available on the official website.

How Emotions Anonymous is Effective for Members

Emotions Anonymous not only provides a 12-step program for recovery, but the program also gives many ways for members to continue their sobriety in other ways of participation. There are many service opportunities available on the official website that offer tools for recovery, including writing, drawing images or sharing stories for Emotions Anonymous International, sharing their stories at speaker meetings and events, and participating in Emotions Anonymous activities that are held throughout the year.

Literature and a monthly newsletter is available for Emotions Anonymous members so that they can stay up to date and hear stories from members all over the world. The website also offers methods for meeting holders to ensure their meetings are successful, as well as recordings from previous speakers to share their stories for any newcomers who may want to hear how they can relate to members in the program. Sponsorship is another way for existing members to continue their service in the fellowship, so the website has sponsorship information available for anyone who is interested in becoming a sponsor.

The program’s effectiveness is based on the same 12 steps, traditions and principles as Alcoholics Anonymous, which is one of the reasons it is successful for many members. Admitting powerlessness over emotions is the first step in the recovery process, and as members begin working the other steps, they will begin to find emotional stability in their lives. While the program does rely on members finding a power higher than themselves, it is not religious in any way nor does the higher power have to be called God. Members are encouraged to find their own concept of a higher power as long as it is not themselves.

Common Questions about Emotions Anonymous

Where can I find an Emotions Anonymous meeting?

All information for individuals looking for Emotions Anonymous meetings can be found here. A directory search can be done for face-to-face meetings, but there are also phone and virtual meetings available for those who cannot physically attend a meeting. If necessary, members are encouraged to call ahead to ensure the scheduled meeting they are interested in is still available.

What are the costs of the program?

Like all other 12-step programs available, there are no costs, dues or fees for membership to Emotions Anonymous. The only requirement for membership is the desire to become well emotionally. The fellowship is self-supporting through their own contributions and does not accept any outside donations. Although no member is forced to contribute monetarily, members are encouraged to contribute when they can, if they can.

Can I start my own meeting?

If members are unable to find a meeting in their local area, all new meetings are encouraged and can be done so by registering here. All types of meetings can be created as long as they are registered through the website, including phone, virtual or face-to-face meetings. After filling out the registration form with all of the meeting details provided, there is an option to order a starter packet with materials to ensure a successful meeting is created.

What are the 12 promises of the program?

Because Emotions Anonymous follows in the steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, there are many similarities that members can find throughout the fellowship. Emotions Anonymous has 12 steps, 12 traditions, 12 slogans and 12 promises for members to help provide support and hope that recovery is possible when individuals choose to work the program efficiently and honestly. Although the 12 promises are slightly different than Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12 promises, they are as follows:

  1. We realize a new freedom and happiness.
  2. We do not regret the past or wish to shut the door on it.
  3. We comprehend the word serenity, and we know peace of mind.
  4. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we see how our experience can benefit others.
  5. The feelings of uselessness and self-pity lessen.
  6. We have less concern about self and gain interest in others.
  7. Self-seeking slips away.
  8. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life changes.
  9. Our relationships with other people improve.
  10. We intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
  11. We acquire a feeling of security within ourselves.
  12. We realize that God is doing for us what we could not do ourselves.

12 Steps of Emotions Anonymous (EA)

1. We admitted we were powerless over our emotions, that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message and to practice these principles in all our affairs.


12 Traditions of Emotions Anonymous (EA)

1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends on EA unity.

2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority: a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.

3. The only requirement for EA membership is a desire to become well emotionally.

4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or EA as a whole.

5. Each group has but one primary purpose: to carry its message to the person who still suffers from emotional problems.

6. An EA group ought never endorse, finance or lend the EA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.

7. Every EA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.

8. Emotions Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.

9. EA, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.

10. Emotions Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence, the EA name ought never be drawn into public controversy.

11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.

12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

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