At all levels of SCA, members make decisions by what is called "group conscience." That is, any member can raise an issue and the issue is discussed and voted on by the other members. Meeting formats are decided on and revised through the group conscience process.
Meeting formats vary from area to area. Despite variations, most meetings contain these elements:
1. An opening statement is read, such as the statement of purpose.
2. Each person introduces themselves by their first name only and the nature of their addiction.
3. Material is read, such as the Twenty Questions, the Characteristics most of us seem to have in common, the Twelve Steps, the Twelve Traditions or the Tools that help us get better. We also make use of AA's (Alcoholics Anonymous), OA's (Overeaters Anonymous) and other Twelve Step programs' conference-approved literature, as well as other appropriate materials.
4. Something to stimulate discussion, such as reading that explains one of the Twelve Steps, a reading from a recovery-oriented meditation book or a recovering member who shares "what it was like, what happened and what it is like now". If a member speaks, that portion of the meeting is often called "qualifying", "leading", or "giving a long share".
5. Individuals are welcomed to share, either about a topic that was established in the reading or the long share or about whatever they need to share to get into or stay in recovery. In larger meetings, individual shares (sometimes called "pitches") are given time limits. While the goal is to share honestly and openly, many meetings place guidelines on sharing, to avoid having one person's share trigger another person's disease. Generally, the guidelines include not naming specific places where one can "act out" or using sensational language. Some meetings allow other members who become triggered by an individual's share to so indicate by raising their hands. Some meetings set aside specific times to encourage newcomers to share. The Four obstacles to success provide some guidelines for types of sharing to avoid at meetings.
6. At some point, the meeting will pause to pass a basket for donations, which support rent for the meeting room, other meeting expenses and the work of the local Intergroup and ISO. During that time, members may make SCA-related announcements. Sometimes, periods of recovery will be honored. Some meetings give "chips" or "tokens" to newcomers and for 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, 9 months and one or more years of adherence to one's sexual recovery plan.
Open and Closed meetings:
Many areas make distinctions between "open" and "closed" meetings. An "open" meeting is typically defined as allowing non-SCA members to attend and/or participate, while a "closed" meeting allows attendance and participation only by SCA members or those who think they might qualify for membership.
Remember, the Third Tradition states: "The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop having compulsive sex", so if you think you might meet that requirement, you are welcome to attend a "closed" meeting.
Court, Speaker, Reading and Chips meetings:
A "court" meeting welcomes court ordered attendees, court papers are signed at the end of the meeting.
A "speaker" meeting invites SCA members from different groups to share their experience in SCA.
A "reading" meeting focuses on reading literature.
A "chips" meeting rewards tokens to those who achieved a certain level of progress during a certain duration.
Special Focus meetings:
Some meetings may focus on special issues; for example, the recovery experiences of lesbians and gay men, or recovery in committed relationships, or the tool of dating. Occasionally, a meeting might be restricted to individuals who make a specific commitment to attend the meeting. For example, a "committed step study" is where members of the meeting agree to a specific schedule when they will meet, as well as to specific assignments for each meeting. The special focus of the meeting will be indicated in the area's meeting list.
Some meetings have newcomers (or "beginners") as a special focus; these meetings often emphasize how to get started in recovery and provide resources for doing so that are not present at other meetings. Regardless of a meeting's focus, all SCA meetings are open to anyone who qualifies for membership under the Third Tradition.