Tradition 8: Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
“Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional. We define professionalism as the occupation of counseling alcoholics for fees or hire. But we may employ alcoholics where they are going to perform those services for which we might otherwise have to engage non-alcoholics. Such special services may be well recompensed. But our usual A.A. “12th Step” work is never to be paid for.” Bill Wilson 1948
Alcoholics Anonymous has been around for decades. All around the world sick and suffering alcoholics have stepped into these rooms and achieved sobriety. Many relapse, some die, many make it back to the rooms. Alcoholics Anonymous is completely non-professional, and almost entirely unorganized. This works wonderfully. Spiritual experiences are flowing from alcoholics who are well to those who are sick. One alcoholic talking to another; it’s really quite simple.
Is it possible that this program could ever be professionalized? Absolutely not. All the efforts to “professionalize” A.A have failed miserably. A.A. will not tolerate the idea of paid “A.A. Therapists” or “organizers”. This life saving program can never be diluted by “professionals”.
It is true that few subjects have been the cause of more contention within our Fellowship than professionalism. Caretakers who swept floors, cooks who fried hamburgers, secretaries in offices, authors writing books–all these we have seen hotly assailed because they were, as their critics angrily remarked, “making money out of A.A.” Ignoring the fact that these labors were not Twelfth Step jobs at all, the critics attacked as A.A. professionals these workers of ours who were often doing thankless tasks that no one else could or would do. Even greater furors were provoked when A.A. members began to run rest homes and farms for alcoholics, when some hired out to corporations as personnel men in charge of the alcoholic wards, when others entered the field of alcohol education. In all these instances, and more, it was claimed that A.A. knowledge and experience were being sold for money, hence these people, too, were professionals.
Bill W. once said, “There are people who serve us full time in other capacities such as: cooks, caretakers and paid Intergroup secretaries. These people are not “A.A. professionals”. They are just making more and better 12th Step work possible. Secretaries at their desks are valuable points of contact, information and public relations. That is what they are paid for, and nothing else. They help carry the good news of A.A. to the outside world. That’s not “A.A. therapy”; it’s just a lot of very necessary but often thankless work.”