Back around 2003, at my old home group in Philadelphia, we developed an orientation meeting for newcomers. We had written to a number of intergroups around the world, asking if they did orientation meetings for newcomers. Many wrote back sharing their orientations, and we combined ideas that we received in order to create one that we felt worked best for us. Our goal was to help the newcomer feel as welcome as possible and reduce any apprehension that he or she might have. After all, we would tell them, from our own experience, we were all well aware that the hardest thing they may have ever done was to get out of their car, walk across that parking lot and open the door to ask for help.
Here is our orientation as it has developed over decades. Feel free to use it—and best of luck with it!
Orientation Meeting — Suggested Talking Points
Different from a newcomers/beginners meeting, this is a more casual dialogue approach, giving the newcomer an opportunity to ask questions and find out what our meetings and the Twelve Step recovery program are all about.
1. Welcome them and establish that the person is there for their own personal recovery.
2. Explain that this is an informal meeting—different from a regular one. They can ask anything they want.
3. How did they hear about us?
4. Read: “The SA Purpose” and “What is a Sexaholic and What is Sexual Sobriety?”
5. Let the newcomer know how we define sobriety:
a. SA is not a one-size-fits-all fellowship.
b. There are other Twelve Step fellowships where members can define their own sobriety.
c. Our “Sobriety Imperative”:
i. No sex with self,
ii. No sex with anyone you’re not married to,
iii. Marriage is defined as a marriage between one man and one woman,
iv. Progressive victory over lust.
6. The Addiction: Explain that, although our acting-out methods may be different, we all have in common the addiction to lust.
7. [NEED TIMER VOLUNTEER] Briefly (3 minutes) tell the newcomer your story:
a. This lets the person know that he/she’s talking with an actual sex addict.
b. Gives a live demonstration of openness, honesty, powerlessness, and willingness to get well.
c. Ask other members in the meeting to introduce themselves, state length of sobriety and tell their 3-minute story.
8. Ask the newcomer to take 3 minutes to explain why they’re here.
9. What have they been doing that they wish they could stop? Ask them: “Do you really want to give this up? Or just partly?” This addiction is as if they were riding down in an elevator, and they can step off at any floor they want.
10. In a general way, explain SA’s Twelve Step program of recovery—the program’s spirituality, and please be aware of their possible viewpoints on God.
11. Explain what to expect during meetings:
a. When they go to the meeting, they can share whenever they feel comfortable to do so. There’s no expectation that they need to say anything or do anything, except introduce themselves.
b. If they’re not sure that they’re a sexaholic, they can just give their first name and say that they’re new, during the regular meeting.
c. We may not have a formal dress code, but we don’t want to be a trigger to others.
d. Suggest that, if they’re not sure whether or not they belong here, we suggest they attend six meetings to help them decide.
e. Explain about raising of hands and being called on to share.
f. Explain about the 7th Tradition.
g. Explain about the 24-Hour chip.
12. Offer to exchange phone numbers and be sure to check in on them in the next day or two.
13. Give them: Questions and Answers for Newcomers, The SA Brochure, and your local meetings schedule.
14. Briefly explain about Sponsorship/Temporary Sponsorship.
15. Bring them into the meeting a few minutes ahead of time, in order for them to meet the other members before the meeting begins. Be sure to invite them out for fellowship afterwards if you’re planning on anything.
“We’re not associated with any particular religion but we do pray at every meeting. After a moment of silent meditation for the addict who still suffers both in and out of these rooms, I’d like to ask _________ to lead us in a traditional 12-Step Fellowship prayer.” [Everyone stands in a circle.] “Keep coming back! It works if you work it—so work it, you’re worth it!”
Over the years, it has been such a joy to watch brand-new members at these orientation meetings while this information is shared with them and we tell them our stories. There have been quite a number of times where newcomers have expressed that they felt surprised that their stories were not so unique after all. They have also told us that they felt grateful to know that there was help available. Most of all, though, they’ve said that it has helped them feel at home.