Phone Meetings: FAQ
Q: How does a telemeeting work?
A: You will dial a teleconferencing server and enter an access code. All attendees will be automatically joined together in the call. A secretary leads the meeting.
Q: How much does the call cost?
A: The only cost is your usual long-distance rate multiplied by the number of minutes the meeting lasts. This charge will appear on your regular telephone bill as a long-distance call.
Note: Calling cards may be available from local merchants for rates as low as 4 cents per minute. These charges do not appear on your phone bill.
Q: Who can attend?
A: Men and women whose lives have been affected by someone else’s compulsive sexual behavior can attend mixed meetings.
Q: What happens during a telemeeting?
A: The telemeetings follow a structure that is similar to face-to-face COSA meetings. Each meeting is led by a secretary (a COSA volunteer) who welcomes callers and reads a Secretary Script to guide the meeting.Although each telemeeting may have a slightly different format, they all follow a structure like the following:
|Welcome||Callers are welcomed to the meeting.|
|Introduction||The secretary begins the meeting with a brief introduction.|
|Serenity Prayer||Those who care to join in the Serenity Prayer.|
|Readings||Program-related readings are shared. The secretary will ask for volunteers to read. You are encouraged to print out the readings and participate either by reading or by following along.|
|General introductions||Callers are encouraged to identify themselves by first name and the location from which they are calling.
Members who acknowledge that they are codependents will say something like, “Hi, I’m John. I’m a codependent calling from Los Angeles, California.”
Guests or newcomers are invited to introduce themselves by name and location, and to identify that they are new to the meeting so we can get to know them.
|Guest reading or Guest Speaker||A Guest Speaker is a COSA member who signs up to share their experience, strength, and hope in recovery. A Guest Reader may read from COSA literature or whatever recovery books (like the AA Big Book, the AA Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions Book, etc.) that particular meeting agrees to.|
|General Shares||The meeting opens for discussion. The secretary helps moderate as callers are invited to share about the reading or just ‘get current.’ “Crosstalk,” which means direct comment about someone’s share or referring to another person’s name in your share, is discouraged to promote a safe environment. Sharing is optional, although encouraged.|
|Anonymity||Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions.|
|Seventh Tradition||Callers are encouraged to contribute to the continued work of bringing the message of recovery to other codependents. See the Donations page at this website to learn how to do this.|
|Announcements||Meeting-related announcements (i.e., annual COSA conventions or retreats, upcoming First Steps, etc.).|
|Closing Readings||We bring the formal meeting to a close with a couple of short recovery readings.|
|Closing Prayer||Those who care to join in the Closing Prayer.|
|Fellowship||Callers ask questions, respond to shares, and socialize. Callers are welcome to stay on the call as long as desired.|
Q: Does the number ever change?
A: Yes, occasionally. An electronic recording on the old number will direct you to the new dial-in number. The access code will remain the same (unless otherwise indicated). If you have signed up to receive your meeting’s email announcements, any phone number changes will be emailed to you as quickly as possible. Any phone number or access codes changes will also be posted on this website.
Q: How can I reach others on the telemeeting call?
A: Email the meeting’s Email Coordinator at the email address posted for your meeting and request a contact list.
Q: How are the telemeeting contact lists used?
A: If you would like to make your contact information available to others on the call, please email the Email Coordinator at your meeting’s email address (found on the Telemeeting Schedule). You can specify your first name, last initial, region of the country where you live, if you are open to phone calls or email contact only, or both. The purpose of the list is strictly to allow us to connect with fellow COSAs between meetings for support or to ask recovery-related questions. To respect our fellowship’s Tradition to not support or endorse any outside organizations, the list is not to be used for business or self-promotion of any kind. It is also our Tradition to carefully guard the anonymity and confidentiality of all our members so the list is not to be shared with anyone outside the meeting.
Q: How is the meeting run?
A: We open and close the meeting with a prayer, read a couple things, introduce ourselves (by first name only and how we identify ourselves in recovery – see question #8 for more on this), a guest speaker or guest reader reads or shares their experience, strength, and hope in recovery, the meeting opens up for general sharing (see Question #11 for description about ‘sharing’), brief announcements about COSA are shared and the meeting formally closes.
Q: When can I ask questions on the call?
A: Most people come to their first meeting scared, anxious, and filled with many questions. We encourage you to ask questions, but please save them for the fellowship time after the meeting unless the meeting has a Question and Response format in the meeting itself. Some people express a question during their share and then let the group know if they would like to talk with others after the meeting. The Question and Response format is not a ‘dialogue’; rather it usually allows time to pose a question and then take up to three timed responses from members of the fellowship.
Q: When do I get to talk?
A: During the meeting there is time set aside for people to share. Everyone is invited to share, but no one is obligated to do so. We try to be respectful of the amount of time we take, allowing for others to have time to share as well. We find about three minutes of uninterrupted time to speak is reasonable and respectful. It takes courage to speak and patience to listen. It’s okay to pass if you are getting what you need from listening or don’t feel ready yet. Most of us find relief in both sharing and listening to others share.
Q: What is sharing?
A: “Share” is the term we use to communicate our feelings and experiences of the moment or the past, problems and solutions, fears or hopes, and defeats or victories. When it is our turn to share we speak about our own experience and share in “I” statements. When someone is sharing, we listen without comment. It helps us to share with others with a common problem; there is something special about hearing that others have been there, done that, and gotten through it. Through our shares we come to believe that we can get through anything, with the help of others, without going back to the destructive behavior that brought us to the point of desperation in the first place. Many of us find it helpful to keep our share focused on recent experiences and events. We are not in the meeting to advise, soothe, or solve other people’s problems. We can share what we have done to change our own behavior, but not what we think someone else should do.
Q: What is Crosstalk?
A: Crosstalk is: giving unsolicited feedback, giving advice, responding or referring to another person’s share in the meeting, making you and we statements, minimizing another person’s feeling or experiences, physical contact or touch, addressing another person present by name when you are sharing. So, to help keep our meeting a safe place, we do our best not to crosstalk or offer feedback in the meeting, instead we try to “learn to listen and listen to learn.” We work toward taking responsibility in our own lives, rather than giving advice to others.
Q: How can I let someone know I relate to a situation they are experiencing in a safe way?
A: You can make program calls after the meeting, one-on-one, and ask if it’s okay to refer to something they shared. If they say no, respect their boundary. If they say yes, keep in mind we do not give advice, rather we share how someone else’s situation or story has moved us or reminded us of something from our past or something we are also working on. It is okay to share our experience, strength, and hope with someone we relate to and it feels good to receive it when there is no expectation or hidden agenda. We find it helps to approach someone because we want to acknowledge how something they said has helped us, or because we want to ask them a question – rather than to help them.
Q: What is a Program Call?
A: A program call is simply an attempt to reach out by phone between meetings to someone in recovery. You may have questions about the COSA program or want to share more about what has brought you to the meetings. You can contact the Email Coordinator at your meeting’s email address for a list of those who are open to being contacted by phone or email.
Q: What is the commitment to confidentiality?
A: Confidentiality is key to feeling safe in our meetings. Each time we meet we hear the words: “What you see here, what you hear here, let it stay here.” And we recommit to maintaining confidentiality by responding “Here, here.” Our Twelfth Tradition offers clear guidance that we “place principles before personalities.” To help us practice this Tradition and protect confidentiality, we don’t refer to another person by name in the meeting. On a program call or in fellowship with others it is okay to share how something someone said affected you, just remember to leave the personal details and person’s name out of it. For example, “I heard someone share at a meeting the other night about shame. It made me realize …”.
Q: What is a Service Position?
A: The meeting depends on its members to be of service in the following ways: a secretary; a treasurer; a greeter; a voicemail person; an email coordinator; and an intergroup representative. Service is a great way to keep us coming back and to stay sober.
Q: What is Group Conscience?
A: This is the process we use to make all decisions in the group. A motion is made, seconded, and discussed before the Secretary asks for a verbal acknowledgment: those in favor, opposed, and abstaining. Group conscience is expressed through a majority vote.
Q: What does it mean to be “sober” in COSA and what are “Circles”?
A: Being sober means different things to different people. It is a great question to ask people once you’ve gotten to know someone a little. Not everyone is comfortable sharing their ‘inner circle behaviors.’ It’s okay to ask, but be respectful and accept when someone isn’t ready to share about it. Inner circle behaviors are the behaviors from which someone is trying to abstain. Middle circle behaviors are behaviors that could be healthy or could be unhealthy depending on how we use them. Some of us watch these behaviors as possible indicators that we are slipping towards using inner circle behaviors. Outer circle behaviors are activities and behaviors we engage in to keep us healthy and we replace the inner circle behaviors with them. Most of us find it helpful to do this work with the help of our sponsor/cosponsor. Ultimately it is up to us to do our own work to define the boundaries of our own behaviors and not have them be dependent on another’s.
Q: What is a “slip”?
A: When someone engages in one of their inner circle behaviors (something they have committed to themselves and their sponsor or cosponsor not to do), they may refer to it as a ‘slip.’
Q: What is a sponsor or cosponsor?
A: Since isolation perpetuates addictive behaviors, it is important to not try to work the Steps alone. A sponsor is someone who has worked some of the Steps (ideally has completed their Fifth Step) and has agreed to work with you as you begin to work the Steps. If you are unable to find a sponsor to work with, look for a cosponsor. A cosponsor is someone who is also beginning to work the Steps and, like a study partner, works the Steps with you. A temporary sponsor is someone who agrees to sponsor you until you can secure a permanent sponsor or cosponsor. This arrangement allows you to proceed with your Step work while you continue to search for sponsorship. There is no ‘right’ way to sponsor or cosponsor, there are many successful models. Talk with people about their experiences and figure out what feels best for you. Many of us use Twelve Step Sponsorship: How It Works, written by Hamilton B. Both sponsors and sponsees can benefit from this resource.
Q: What does it mean to “work the Steps?”
A: Working the Steps helps you to realize that many of your problems have a solution. The Promise of the program is that when you are diligent in working the Steps, you will achieve recovery from your addictive behaviors.
Q: What does it mean to “Give a First Step?”
A: Working with a sponsor or cosponsor, we write our story of what we are powerless over and how our lives have become unmanageable. It has been our group’s Tradition that an individual be working with a sponsor or cosponsor in order to present their First Step at a face-to-face meeting. The First Step presenter’s sponsor/cosponsor introduces them and they have 25 minutes of uninterrupted time to share their Step with the group.
Telemeeting Voicemail: 641-715-3900, ext. 743942#