SMART Recovery is a self-empowerment program for people having problems with addictive behavior. We currently sponsor more than 1300 face-to-face addiction recovery meetings around the world, and 30 online meetings per week. When an individual in crisis seeks out a SMART meeting, or a professional refers someone to a meeting, it can be helpful to know what to expect. This post is intended to be a quick primer on the elements of a SMART meeting so that people who are new to attending meetings – either face-to-face or online – know what to expect.
Two things to know: First, meeting facilitators are trained by SMART. Some are people who have participated in the SMART program, some are professionals (eg. counselors or social workers), some are friends or family of those who have used the SMART program, and some are concerned citizens willing to provide a meeting in their community.
Second, participation during a meeting isn’t required. Members choose to participate (or not) at whatever level feels comfortable to them.
There are six basic elements in a SMART meeting:
- ● Welcome and Introduction (5 minutes) – Our facilitators welcome everyone and provide a short introduction.
● Check-In (10-20 minutes) – Checking In allows participants in the meeting to share how they’re doing, and to “check in” with the rest of the group. Participants share what’s been happening since the last meeting such as successes, or any challenges they’re facing.
● Agenda Setting (3 minutes) – The facilitator then sets the agenda – it may include topics that came up during the check-in, or a previously agreed upon topic or SMART tool.
● Working Time (40-50 minutes) – This is the “meat” of the meeting, and working time differs based on the agenda. Tools and techniques are shared by all to address any issues raised during the check-in.
● Pass the Hat (3 minutes) – SMART doesn’t charge for meetings, but donations are requested and appreciated.
● Check-out and Closing (15 minutes) – Just like check-in, this allows participants to share what they’ve learned, homework they plan to do, or plans and goals for the week.
● Note: If time is available, some meetings include a brief time for socializing, announcements, book purchases, Q&A, and verification forms for court.
The Facilitator’s role is to guide the meeting. Said one long-time veteran facilitator: “the meetings I’ve felt have been the most beneficial to the participants, are those where my top lip and bottom lip were touching through most of the meeting.” So, expect to learn a lot from others at the meeting, and remember:
Be it a face-to-face meeting [LINK] or an online meeting [LINK] you attend, arriving with an open mind, a desire to learn, and a desire to be helpful to others will enhance your experience, and the experience of others.