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Emotions Anonymous History

The EA membership is composed of people who come together in weekly meetings for the purpose of working toward recovery from emotional difficulties. EA members are from many walks of life and are of diverse ages, economic statuses, social and educational backgrounds. The only requirement for membership is a desire to become well emotionally.

The first group of what is now Emotions Anonymous met on April 13, 1966, at the Merriam Park Community Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. The group, then known as Neurotics Anonymous,  was started by Marion F., a 55-year-old woman, after seeing a newspaper article that suggested the twelve-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous could be used as a tool for recovery from emotional illness.  Because of her many years of fear and panic, she thought the program might be beneficial to her. At the first meeting about a dozen people were present; including several Al-Anon members. The news media picked up on it, and the following week there were sixty-five people present. By the fall of the year, a Minneapolis group was added, leading to other groups forming throughout the Twin Cities and eventually spreading to other neighboring states.

As the program grew, differences developed between these groups and the main offices of Neurotics Anonymous.  After a number of attempts to settle this discord, the Minnesota Intergroup Association dissociated from Neurotics Anonymous and became Emotions Anonymous. Officers were elected and permission was granted from A.A. World Services to use their Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions in the new program. Articles of Incorporation were filed on July 22, 1971. 

In the years to come, books and publications were developed for the membership, as well as an official logo for the organization. The first annual convention was held in 1972 and at that time the bylaws were ratified and the first International Service Board of Trustees was elected. EA still holds annual conventions and the Board of Trustees oversees the work of the International Service Center, staffed by an Executive Director and office staff.

The Emotions Anonymous book, still in use today, was completed in 1978. A daily reader, Today, was published in 1987. In 2003 a book, It Works if You Work It, was published as a how-to primer for EA members. Welcoming Spirituality is the newest workbook available through EAI and was published in July 2019. Today, EAI has materials translated into sixteen different languages and used in more than thirty countries.

Emotions Anonymous is a twelve-step organization, similar to Alcoholics Anonymous. People join EA in order to help themselves better understand their emotions and lead a more manageable life by following the EA program and using the EA materials.