The number of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) groups in UK continues to grow. Follow-up studies of patients known to clinics show that attendance at AA is associated with good outcome, there are few studies which have randomly allocated patients either to professional therapy versus encouragement and facilitation to attend self-help groups. However, that seems not to be the reason why patients and staff in many centres shy away from or are ignorant of AA. Reference in AA to a Higher Power, and ‘spirituality’ appears to deter some. Their meaning, however, can be better understood when comparisons are made with research into the therapeutic ingredients of group psychotherapy.