Search Baywood’s Publications
Advanced Search 
International Journal of Self-Help & Self-Care
Editor: Thomasina Borkman
Please note that effective December 5, 2014, SAGE Publications will be the publisher of International Journal of Self-Help & Self-Care. This Journal was discontinued by SAGE – access will be provided via CLOCKSS

The International Journal of Self-Help & Self-Care is the leading international publication solely devoted to research and practice in self-help/self-care, mutual aid, and consumer participation, with a major focus on groups, projects, organizations, and activities that are led by individuals with the issue of interest or patient-volunteers, not professionally controlled. The Journal seeks to enhance the usable knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of the citizen- and patient-led self-help/self-care and mutual aid social movements for a vast array of issues in health, illness, disability, social justice, and socioeconomic oppression. Manuscripts on the structure, operation, processes, effectiveness, and evaluation of self-help/self-care and mutual aid programs, practices, and activities are welcome, covering the many and varied interpersonal systems, groups, online networks, organizations, and communities around the globe. Both quantitative and qualitative research reports are accepted. The Journal also encourages reports on innovative methodologies that put the self-helper at the center, with a particular interest in how self-help and mutual aid are manifested and developed within and affected by different relationships with professional, government, and civil society organizations and within various political and economic contexts (post-socialist, western capitalist, developing economy).

This interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary, peer-reviewed, social and behavioral sciences Journal publishes empirical research papers on practice, theory, and methods in the areas of self-help/self-care, mutual aid, and consumer participation at the interpersonal, group, organizational, and community levels, as well as practitioners’ reports of personal experience with self-help/self-care and mutual aid. Self-help and self-care refer to internally mobilized action and problem-solving to deal with or overcome challenging health, illness, or disability situations, or issues of stigma, social justice, or socioeconomic oppression.

Experience Reports focus on the perspectives of the affected person, family, carers, or professional health and social welfare supporters. They articulate the experiential knowledge and insights of the individual and collective voice of the self-help group or organization (or mutual help group, user-led services and advocacy, peer-run services, or consumer- or patient-led activities and projects).

Internationally, the terminology in self-help/self-care and mutual aid has proliferated. The Journal considers all terminology, as long as authors clearly define their terms and relate them to core ideas of voluntary, mutually supported, and non-commercialized, non-monetized self-help/self-care, mutual aid, or consumer participation—on the individual, interpersonal, group, organization, community, or policy level. New and emerging forms of user-led mutual assistance are especially welcome, such as the user-led recovery movement in alcohol and drug problems or mental/psychiatric illness; self-help (or consumer-run, peer-run, or user-run) organizations and services for people with mental health or other issues; online self-help and support groups and networks; hybrid user-run and professionally run recovery centers, clubhouses, mutual aid organizations, and buddy lines; and peer specialists working within mainstream, professionally based organizations.

The Journal is open to a broad range of articles, with a main focus on the following questions: What is the comparative effectiveness, for participants, of peer-run services conducted within a peer-controlled organization versus a professionally controlled organization? What are the benefits and risks of participating in online mutual-help groups (e.g., moderated vs. unmoderated groups) for various kinds of health or social issues? What are the backgrounds, characteristics, training, and practice situations of professional “friends” and sympathizers of self-help and mutual aid versus professional resistors or saboteurs of self-help and mutual aid? What are the risks and risk-management strategies for mutual-help organizations of partnerships with professionally run or government organizations? What kinds of social support and advocacy activities develop in self-help and mutual aid groups for various chronic diseases in different kinds of health and welfare systems, and what is their impact? How do the structure, operation, and policies of the health and welfare system and the voluntary civil society affect the nature of self-help and mutual aid?

Types of articles include: empirical research reports; Experience Reports—first-person narratives of significant or innovative contributions to self-help/self-care and mutual aid; media and book reviews; global developments—regional or country-wide developments in policy, practice, or research in self-help/self-care and mutual aid; theoretical and insight articles; theoretical and methodological analyses or opinion pieces on critical issues or case studies of relevant or innovative practices of self-help/self-care and mutual aid.

Thomasina Borkman received her Ph.D. in sociology from Columbia University in 1969. She specializes in health, illness and disability, and self-help groups and organizations. Between 1969 and 1972, she intensively observed a group for people who stutter, then observed periodically for another decade as it evolved into a national umbrella organization. She has spent 32 of her 37 years of university teaching and research at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. In 1978–80, as a visiting researcher at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health, she learned about Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and spin-offs of AA, referred to as “social model substance abuse recovery programs” and 12-step recovery programs. In 1995–1997, she did further research on social model substance abuse recovery programs as a visiting researcher at the Alcohol Research Group in Berkeley, California.

Dr. Borkman’s international honors and positions include: a National Institute of Mental Health grant that funded her first international research—a mail survey of self-help groups for people who stutter, in New Zealand, Sweden, Holland, and Japan in 1972; visiting professorships to England and Taiwan; member of Honorary Advisory Committee and chair of the Research Committee of the International Conference on self-help/mutual aid in Toronto in 1992; Fulbright Research Fellowship to York University, Toronto, to study Canadian self-help groups and organizations in relation to the health care system in 1995; keynote presentations at self-help conferences in Canada, Sweden, Norway, England, Finland, Hong Kong, China, and Japan; presentations on self-help/mutual aid in Australia, Canada, England, Norway, Sweden, Northern Ireland, Taiwan, and the United States; comparative research on mental health self-help organizations in England, the United States, and Sweden, with European colleagues.

Dr. Borkman is best known for her theoretical work on experiential knowledge. Her seminal article was "Experiential Knowledge: A New Concept for the Analysis of Self Help Groups" (Social Service Review, 1976). A more recent, updated articulation is found in her book Understanding Self-Help/Mutual Aid: Experiential Learning in the Commons (Rutgers University Press, 1999). Her many journal publications on self-help groups and organizations appear in the addictions literature, mental health community psychology journals, European psychosocial journals, and Japanese social work journals. She has edited two books and five special issues on self-help groups, and is on the Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. Retiring as a Professor of Sociology Emerita in 2007, Dr. Borkman continues her research—studying an innovative self-help center in Los Angeles and working on an NIH study of how people recovering from drug and alcohol abuse define recovery.

  • All-Russian Institute of Scientific and Technical Information
  • EBSCO Publishing Database
  • Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts
  • National Information Services Corporation (NISC)
  • Social Planning/Policy & Development Abstracts

Sign up for FREE Table of Contents email alerts!
Electronic data is generally available six weeks prior to the print version. This complimentary service is availible for all, it is not limited to subscribers. Just click here.

International Journal of Self-Help & Self-Care is a peer refereed journal.

© Copyright Volume 1 - 1999/2000 through Volume 8 - 2014

Baywood Publishing Company, Inc.
Phone: 631 691-1270 Fax: 631 691-1770 Toll free order line: 800-638-7819 Email:

All articles available electronically.
Click to view articles.

Frequency: Journal subscriptions are sold by volume only, 2 issues yearly.
Print ISSN: 1091-2851
On-Line ISSN: 1541-4450

Postage is now included in the list price.

Subscription Options —select bundle (print + online) or our discounted online only option.

Current volume subscriptions include online access back to 1999.

Buying Options

Related journals
Sample Issue
Library Recommendation
Instructions to Authors
View Journal Preview
View the Editorial Board