Discussions related to 12 Step Sponsors, 12 Step Sponsoring, Working with others using the 12 Steps, for AA's, NA's, Al-Anons, Nar-Anons, OA, and others using the 12 Steps.
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Postby schooner » Thu May 01, 2008 2:48 am

Hi Guys/Gals

I'd like to hear how you A.A.'s working with your sponsees' doing the 4th & 5th step ?

Example(s) Do you let 'em write the 4th and tell 'em to bring it with 'em and then you sit down with them and talk about what was written ?

Or do you do it with any writing and just let the sponsee just verbally tell you his/her 5th step?

I like the hear and learn and maybe pick-up some good A.A. tips on how you work with your sponsee' ?

Thank You

Schooner 8)

garden variety
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Postby garden variety » Mon May 05, 2008 1:36 pm

Hiya Schooner,

Glad to see you back again, and it's great that you got a new sponsor!

Before any of my protoges move on to the 4th step, I make sure we do the 3rd step prayer together - there is usually agroup of us and we'll do it at a meeting most of the time in a church chapel. Sometimes we do it outside or at a retreat.

For the 4th step, I first tell my proteges to pray and get prepared. Then once they start I give them 2 weeks for a deadline. After 2 weeks I tell them they better finish because I set an appointment for their 5th step with a counselor at a local rehab or a priest if I know they are Catholic. I say the date is one week later. Now I really don't set the appointments, but that gets them serious about finishing and not procrastinating.

I have my proteges read the book in "How it works" at the bottom of page 63 thru page 71. Then I have them just make up the lists, starting with resentments, just like they have in the book. Except I have them make a blank "4th column". I tell them to leave it blank and we'll talk about it after they finish their resentment list, fears list, people they hurt and people that hurt them list, and sexual conduct list. They do the lists just like it talks about in the book with Mrs. Brown.

Then we set a time to get together, and we go over the "fourth column" or what I call the "my role" column. That gets to the specific character defects. We fill that in then together. When we finish, I tell them I really didn't set an appointment for the 5th step - that's their job. Around here we as sponsors don't usually do the 5th - it's a Akron tradition to go to priest or outside party like a re-hab counsellor to do the 5th. So I give them the numbers for their 5th step contacts, and I drive them out to meet with the priest or counsellor. I wait out in the yard - and what a nice time that has been. Once I laid under a tree for 3 hours waiting for a protege', It was a rural church way out east of Cleveland, near PA, and I just had a blast meditating while waiting.

Now I do make myself available for the 5th if the protege' wants me to do it. But they usually want to do it with a priest like everyone else has around here. They all talk about it in their lead meetings doing a 5th step with "so and so". So the proteges I get have their heart set on seeing a real live priest or minister.

So Schooner, good luck and may God always bless.


PS - I did a 4th and 5th over again with a sponsor who was younger and had less sobriety than me. I'm glad I did. I don't think you're ever too old to do the steps, or to re-do them with a new sponsor. That's just my opinion.

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Postby GeoffS » Fri May 09, 2008 12:43 am

Hi all,

I find it useful to discuss the purpose and benefits of the 4th and 5th step with those about to take it.

These steps are nowhere near as frightening and daunting as they are often thought to be by the newcomer. A lot of that is just from what they hear round the rooms. It may be up to those who sponsor to dispel the myth.

4 and 5 are hard work, that is true, but so rewarding the work seems nothing!

Follow what it says in the book and you cant go wrong, stay away from all the well meaning but diluting 4th step help products available through 'AA Lite', and it should run smooth. Not easily, but smoothly.

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Postby Silverbullet » Mon Dec 14, 2009 2:19 pm

By following the precise set of directions on pages 64 - 75...easy, but hard. :wink: God bless you Schooner :)

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Postby tim-one » Thu Dec 17, 2009 10:32 am

Great discussion, y'all. It's interesting to hear how local some of the methods and attitudes can be. There are many just here in Houston

My ideas come, of course, from my sponsor as well as discussions with several other sponsors - very large group.

First, as Geoffs said, most are terrified of step 4. They hear all the joking in the meetings about how hard their sponsors were on them. Fine. They need to be willing to go to any lengths. It's ok to be timid, but willing.

SO we spend a lot of time on steps 1 through 3 making sure they are totally committed and "let go with complete abandon", "...asked His protection and care with complete abandon".

If they have adequately done step 3, THAT is where the "fearless" comes to from ... actually beliveing in the "PROTECTION and CARE" of their HP. If step 3 is for real, there's no fear. I'm glad the steps come in order. Done that? I'm not afraid of myself or what I'll find.

Beginning step 4, I explain a few things to my sponsees:

1. Step 5 is coming - You will have to "confess" to God and another human-type-person.

2. You should choose a person you trust with your confession, who understands your purpose, who you relate to your Higher Power, and who has your best interest at heart as does your HP.

3. I offer myself as the person most interested in his recovery, most sympathetic, and, as a fellow alcoholic, most understanding ... because that's the way I treat myself now.

4. HOWEVER - being an alcoholic, I am also subject to relapse. I can keep a secret while I'm sober. If I'm not, all bets are off. If you trust me and MY Higher Power and if I have what you want, I'm here for you. I'm willing if you are.

That sets up HOW we work step 4:

1. Do we discuss his lists? Does he want my help deciding what's wrong with him? Help knowing when he's not being honest with himself? Reinforcing the intent of what the BB says about our character? When he's "balking"? (not readily apparent to some ... like ME. Thank God for my sponsor.)

2. Or does he prefer for me to just prod him to do the list and trust him to get that help from a spiritual advisor or shrink? (I trusted my sponsor. I didn't trust ME.)

So far, all have used me. They trust my sobriety and my honesty. AND they see that I have a close relationship with my HP. They judge what the steps have done for me and whatever I did might just work for them. But it's their call.

After we pray the 3rd step prayer together, I tell them to re-write the 3rd step prayer in their own words - terms meaningful to them, but expressing all the points. I tell them to memorize it and pray it each time they sit down to work on their lists. (It's also very handy any time of day they have to "handle situations that used to baffle them".) :wink:

In story 8, Dr. Bob did the 6 steps in 3 or 4 hours. HE told the guy what his defects were. They did the whole thing together. But, of course, AA was in the early days and there was no other resource. Nobody else understood. They apparently found reason to suggest differently by the time they wrote the Big Book.

To me, it's not the speed, it's the depth. I tell them it takes as long as you want it to. But you'll have to convince me that you get it before I get off your back about it. It's your job to work make me work. Not the other way. I'll work with whoever is working.

Great exercise, y'all. That's my take on it. Please let me know where I'm wrong. I'll promptly admit it. :wink:

Love y'all,

PS: From my own experience, I'm not sure psychs aren't too into building "self-esteem" to really help alcoholics deal with the necessary humility, self-responsibility, and admission of character defects. Too much "I'm ok, you're ok" there. A good priest, preacher, pastor, or minister might be better. But that's just me, I'm sure.

However, there are shrinks now who have been through the program and know what we're talking about. Find a sober one if you need one, not just a "normie".

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Postby Silverbullet » Thu Dec 17, 2009 10:49 am

I totally agree. I went to my shrink the other day and told him all my woes and troubles. He leaned across his desk and looked me straight in the eyes and said " You know Jack, life isn't for everybody" :cry:

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Postby tim-one » Thu Dec 17, 2009 12:55 pm


Oh, brother ...

There's some experience, strength, and hope for ya, huh?

I went to one wanting him to help me stop drinking. He said there's nothing he can do for me until I stop drinking. :?: Told me to go to rehab and come back.

I wrote months later and thanked him for his honesty. Now that I'm sober and sober-minded through AA program, there's nothing he can do for me.


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Postby Silverbullet » Thu Dec 17, 2009 12:59 pm

Yep, AA has given me what the good Dr. couldn't.... I'm much better now. :D

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Postby loosh » Tue Dec 22, 2009 11:49 am

hI Schooner/ fellow A.A.'s.......re 4th/...and 5th. steps....?? I hope you don't mind if i go back to step 3 first....i.e. "Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God" etc.... IF sponsee can read/write then they'll have a grasp of what they're doing? [or should have !...] I think perhaps many 'sponsees' are turning 3 ..over to their sponsors instead???.....Step 4.. " Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves"...I as a sponsor ask sponsees to read b/b, unless they are illiterate that should'nt be a problem..I also go with them to b/b discussion meetings and suggest they go to step meetings too...We discuss the b/b...at regular weekly get-togethers....and they phone me if req.I recommend what I used ...to take my step 4....[ hazeldene 4th.step questionaire ]...and when/if ready to share their step 4...they know i'm available ....IF they wish to share it with me as per step 5. ? Like i did with my 'closed mouth friend' in AA ...who i'd got to know via sharing with each other , and 'guessed' he would'nt be affected....and my 'guess' was good.....afterwards ...I could look the world in the eye...because i shared EVERYTHING i'd found out in 4 about the REAL me...take it easy. P.S.The Hazeldene Q & A...was searching...took me back to early childhood through to that date...IT also enabled me to see some GOOD points about myself...i never thought that there would be many, BUT there were...slightly more good than bad...which done me well at that time...lifted my spirit....just as the previous 3 had done also...i was on the right path AT LAST....personally i thought sharing with a priest would've been a cop out for my 5th...i trusted in God ...as i understood at that time...after 5...i felt if my head was clear ..ie not troubled...for the first time in my life..i felt peace.

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