It's a new year, and plenty of people are on a self-improvement kick—but many resolutions require more than a solemn vow.
Now Portland has a self-help clearing house.
A new website, freesupportgroups.com, lets Oregonians search for dozens of local, free self-help groups and professional associations to help with problems ranging from anger management to alcoholism and grieving to compulsive gambling.
Licensed marriage and family therapist David Leventer—who treats families in which one member has alcoholism, anxiety or depression, and people suffering from eating disorders—started it because there was no clearing house for such groups, says Jason Reynolds, who helped Leventer coordinate information for the site.
Reynolds runs a Portland-area self-help group for people with depression and bipolar disorders. He has used to self-help groups in combination with private therapy for his own mental health issues, and says that many people use self-help when they don't know where else to turn. Some people, he says, can't afford therapy, don't enjoy it, or simply can't find a practitioner.
"The motivation is that a lot of people get better in groups rather than individual work," Reynolds says. "There's other people in the room who have the problems you have."
Group members can offer practical tips for fighting a disorder or compulsion, or even talk medicine side effects better than a psychiatrist may be able to, he adds.
The website does not require or collect any personal information about people who access its database, Reynolds says.
The page is also looking for leaders of other self-help groups to list their schedules on the site.