WHAT IS A Group Conscience?

Tradition Two tells us that “for our group purpose there is but one authority—a loving God/higher power as they may express themselves in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants—they do not govern.”

But what is a group conscience? How can it be achieved?

Many 12 STEP GROUPS hold GROUP CONSCIENCES to determine how best to conduct meetings. Some of the topics discussed could be, changes to meetings times, changes to meeting formats, spending funds, organize special events, and dealing with issues that affect the SPECIFIC MEETING or PA-A as a whole. These meetings to discuss the business of the group allow members to work together to consider and agree on how best to proceed in the interests of PA-A as a group.

The booklet Al‑Anon and Alateen Groups at Work (P-24) explains on page 51 that “the group conscience is the will of the group” and is based on members’ use of the Twelve Traditions and Twelve Concepts of Service as guides, maintaining “principles above personalities,” and sharing information as equals.

In our pamphlet The Twelve Concepts of Service, Concept One discusses the need to reach an informed group conscience. Our Twelve Traditions and our Twelve Concepts of PA-A are the basis for much of our decision-making and the primary means by which we reach an informed group conscience. (Other means include the history of the group, what other groups have done in similar situations). When we cannot decide what approach to take, it is always prudent to look first at the Traditions and Concepts.

Group conscience demands the private discipline of accepting that our own views are just that, our own views, and listening with an open mind to the views of others is part of our recovery process. We are prepared to consider things differently and to adjust our perception if needed and to yield to the group conscience to arrive at consensus. A group conscience is about the best path forward and not just centering the I and ME.

“Not all our group decisions will be wise and practical. We do make mistakes sometimes and have to look for better answers to a problem. Another group conscience vote can be taken when something needs to be corrected. Like individuals, PA-A groups learn from their mistakes—and so does PA-A as a whole. We find that our Higher Power often leads us through our blunders.

To minimize blunders, it’s important that every voting member be fully informed and understand all pertinent facts before voting. 

Groups/secretaries (usually 1x a quarter) may set a regular schedule for these meetings, or any member of the group may call for a meeting. Providing notice of the meeting and agenda topics a few weeks in advance is a good idea so those attending may have time to think about the items, read background material, and find relevant information when appropriate.

Most members have a special affinity for one particular group and consider it their home group, where they accept responsibilities and try to sustain friendships. Members are encouraged not to meddle in the business or policy of groups they visit only occasionally.

If someone disagrees with any decisions that is accepted at a group conscience, Concept Five reminds us that members have the right of appeal and can express their opinion, which members will consider before deciding whether to revote or proceed. Everybody supports the final decision.


1-We are a recovery based group so we read and use Al-Anon literature and read the literature as presented only changing out alcoholic for alienator when appropriate.

2-No group can introduce outside literature or materials to be used on the group level. If there is a desire to change something like this on the group level your secretary can bring it to the secretaries meeting for consideration.

Please read the group guidelines if you would like any additional information on meeting formats


  1. Renee Joseph

    I’m looking forward to our meeting! The more people we get to come, the better the decisions made will be beneficial for our groups as a whole. See you there!

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