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A 12 Step Program for Older Adults


A Training Resource

By Jim Messina, Ph.D., CCMHC, NCC, DCMHS-T

A program which encourages Older Adults to create a community of mutual support and to help reduce their sense of isolation and loneliness

 By: James J. Messina
 My Self‑esteem is adrift in the SEA of Life.
 When the SEA was rough and the Waves were surging,
 I was tossed and battered.
 When the SEA was still and surf was flat,
 I was anchorless with no direction
 When the SEA was choppy and the waves white capped,
 I was insecure and fearful
 When the SEA was stormy, filled with furor and unpredictability,
 I was immobilized.
 When the SEA was calm, windless, and dead,
 I wallowed in my doldrums.
 When the beauty of the SEA enticed me,
 I entered it freely,
 Only to find below the surface
 A churning cauldron.
 When the SEA was a foaming, raging enemy,
 I entered it bravely,
 Only to find below the surface,
 Its beauty and charm. 
 When I needed nurturance and sustenance,
 The SEA provided the tools for survival. 
 When I needed challenge and motivation,
 The SEA became my source of goals and dreams. 
 When I was uneasy and restless,
 The SEA provided peace and calm on its shores. 
 When I was feeling low and depressed,
 The Sea buoyed me by its strength and magnitude.
 The SEA has an ever-changing face and persona.
 It moves me in a million directions.
 My Self-Esteem is open to change,
 And only though
 My taking control in the SEA of life
 Will I grow to be strong and healthy.
The SEA's Program Background

The Self–Esteem Seekers Anonymous (SEA's) is a 12 Step-program of recovery for any person suffering from low self–esteem.
Low self–esteem can have its roots in a dysfunctional family of origin, in an unhealthy codependent relationship, in personal failure or in a disastrous relationship.
The twelve–step SEA's program is based on the philosophy of AA and Co–Dependents Anonymous (CoDA) but differs in that it is led and sponsored by a trained mental health professional. The SEA's program can be conducted in an outpatient or inpatient setting. Its membership is limited to active or follow–up clients of the specific mental health professional sponsor.
People with low self–esteem suffer from self–destructive behaviors, self–defeating patterns, irrational thinking, and trouble in developing and maintaining healthy and fulfilling relationships.
The SEA's program offers a support program of sharing and spiritual renewal to people who have lost focus of their purpose and direction in life. It is a structured group psychotherapy modality which extends the healing powers of self–growth from the traditional, time–limited individual psychotherapy model.
The SEA's program is not allied with any sect, denomination, or political organization. The members of the SEA's program do not engage in any controversy nor endorse or oppose any causes.

Tools Used in the SEA’s Program

 The SEA's program not only relies upon the wisdom and knowledge of the twelve steps of other anonymous groups but also utilizes the self–help books known as Tools–for–Coping Series written by James J. Messina, Ph.D. The toolchest of the SEA's program includes his series of books all available free of charge at

Other Tools Used in the SEA’s Program

 A personal journal a notebook  in which daily reactions, feelings, and insights are recorded. It is also used to record the steps in the SEA's program.
The following are additional books for specific SEA's participants, namely couples in committed relationships:
  • Marriage Work–Out Team Building Workshop Manual
  • Marriage Work–Out Marital Enrichment Workbook
The SEA's program had been in the process of development since the spring of 1985. The materials of the Tools–for–Coping Series have been field tested in a weekly support program in Tampa. Since the addition of the Twelve–step Model to this support program, the clients have gained a realistic outline for personal healing and recovery.

 Why the name "SEA's Program?” The name SEA's comes from the first initials of Self–Esteem Seekers Anonymous with the "S'' in seekers at the end because seekers with low self–esteem are never sure where they belong.

The Contents of the SEA's Program Manual
 This manual contains four distinct sections to help you better understand the theoretical, philosophical, practical, and procedural elements of the SEA's Program.
Section 1: An Introduction to the Self–Esteem Seekers (SEA’s) Program 

 In this section is an Introduction to the SEA's program including materials and outlines how to conduct the 12 SEA's program in your community. This information is for those counselors and agencies who desire to implement the SEA's support program in their settings, this section of tools contains directions on conducting the SEA's meetings, small sharing groups, and buddy system. A list of suggested readings.  This first section also contains the model of healthy adult self–esteem.
 Four Parts of Section 1 of the SEA's Manual
Section 2: SEA's Tools for Recovery  

Table of Contents

Introduction read down below Table of Contents and click on name of each tool to get to its web page










Section 4: The SEA's 12 Steps Workbook Self-Esteem Seekers Anonymous 

Table of Contents

12 Steps of SEA's and Directions for their use see below table of Contents