Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2020 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming

Twelve Steps

  • Jennifer AmlenEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-24348-7_716

The 12-step program was founded in Akron, Ohio, in 1935 by Dr. Bob Smith (known as Dr. Bob) and Bill Wilson (known as Bill W.). It is based on the 12 steps and 12 traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous. It is an anonymous (using first names only) self-help program based on the goal of attaining sobriety from alcoholism.

The 12 steps are:
  1. 1.

    We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.

  2. 2.

    Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

  3. 3.

    Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

  4. 4.

    Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

  5. 5.

    Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

  6. 6.

    Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

  7. 7.

    Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

  8. 8.

    Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

  9. 9.


This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Cheever, S. (2004). My name is Bill: Bill Wilson-His life and the creation of alcoholics anonymous. New York: Washington Square Press.Google Scholar
  2. Clark, W. H. (1951). The Oxford group. Its history and significance. University of Michigan/Bookmark Associates.Google Scholar
  3. Cooper, M. G., & Lesser, J. G. (2002). Cognitive theory/behavioral theory: A structural approach. In Clinical social work practice-An integrative approach (pp. 141–172). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
  4. Finley, S. W. (2000). Influence of Carl Jung and William James on the origin of alcoholic anonymous. Review of General Psychology, 4(1), 3–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Goldstein, E. G. (1984). Ego psychology and social work practice (2nd ed.). New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  6. Lobdell, J. C. (2004). Dr. Carl Jung’s letter to Bill W., Jan 30, 1961. In This strange illness: Alcoholism and Bill. W. Hawthorne: Aldine de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  7. Loose, R. (2002). The subject of addiction. London: Karnac.Google Scholar
  8. Orange, A. (2006). Bill Wilson writes the twelve steps (Chap. 1). In The religious roots of alcoholics anonymous and the twelve steps. New York: Alcoholics Anonymous, World Services.Google Scholar
  9. Simmel, E. (1994). Alcoholism and addiction. In The dynamics of treatment of alcoholism (Vol. 20, pp. 273–290). Woodstock: Jason Aronson.Google Scholar
  10. Smith, B., & Wilson, B. (1976). Alcoholics anonymous (3rd ed.). New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Second WindNew YorkUSA