EA members come together in weekly meetings for the purpose of working toward recovery from any sort of emotional difficulties. EA members are of diverse ages, races, economic status, social and educational backgrounds. The only requirement for membership is a desire to become well emotionally.
Currently there are EA groups in more than 30 countries, with more than 600 active groups, including Skype, chat, zoom, and phone meetings. The EA program is nonprofessional; it can be a complement to mental health therapy but it is not necessary to be seeking professional help to attend EA meetings.
As an anonymous program, EA respects the confidentiality of its members at all times. Members are not required to share any personal details – or even last names – if they do not chose to at meetings. As a spiritual program, there is an emphasis on a Higher Power. Experience has shown the EA program works equally well for any religious affiliations and those without religious beliefs.
EA provides a warm and accepting group setting in which to share experiences without fear of criticism. Through weekly support meetings, members discover they are not alone in their struggles. They may each have different symptoms, but the underlying emotions are the same or similar.
Their website includes the following features.
- Explanations of the group – its background, principles and methods
- Meeting Finder (In Person, Telephone and Online)
- Free Pamphlets
- Newsletter Archive
- Audio Recordings
- Organization Information
- Online Store
The first group of what is now Emotions Anonymous met on April 13, 1966, at the Merriam Park Community Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. The group, then known as Neurotics Anonymous, was started by Marion F., a 55-year-old woman, after seeing a newspaper article that suggested the twelve-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous could be used as a tool for recovery from emotional illness. Because of her many years of fear and panic she thought the program might be beneficial to her. At the first meeting about a dozen people were present;including several Al-Anon members. The news media picked up on it, and the following week there were sixty-five people present. By the fall of the year, a Minneapolis group was added, leading to other groups forming throughout the Twin Cities and eventually spreading to other neighboring states.
As the program grew, differences developed between these groups and the main offices of Neurotics Anonymous. After a number of attempts to settle this discord, the Minnesota Intergroup Association dissociated from Neurotics Anonymous and became Emotions Anonymous. Officers were elected and permission was granted from A.A. World Services to use their Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions in the new program. Articles of Incorporation were filed on July 22, 1971.