There is no one right way to do a 4th step inventory. For many people in program, the 4th step has been surrounded by so much unnecessary anxiety! We have made something that should be so simple into something very complicated.
It is a difficult balance to present all the information on how to do a 4th step inventory.
Over the years, I have also gathered many, many 4th step inventory worksheets in the process. I am always trying to simplify this step and document how to explain it. The unfortunate side effect is – that in my quest for simplicity – I may have inadvertently made it more complicated rather than less.
I think that it can be very helpful to have all the information that I have gathered over the years available for anyone who might be interested in understanding the 4th step in depth. Here is the dilemma: As addicts, we do not do well with too many choices. And, as addicts, we like to figure things out for ourselves and make our own decisions. So, I am listing all of the various types of 4th step inventories and their explanations.
This page is a work in progress. Please forgive me if it is confusing and disorganizing. Everyone’s patience and tolerance is greatly appreciated!
This website offers a comprehensive explanation on all the steps. Here is the link for step 4 which I highly recommend! [Post update: Unfortunately, the site is no longer available. I am leaving it here, in case things change. I could have a pdf of what was on the site but, I am really hoping that this is just a temporary situation.]
The main formats for doing the 4th step are:
1. The multiple column inventory.
This is most popular due to Joe and Charlie, two very dynamic and popular AA Big Book speakers. I highly encourage anyone to listen to their talks.
Unfortunately, they have passed away. Their legacy, however, continues to live on.
Dallas also has made beautiful step 4 inventory worksheets following the multiple column inventory format of Joe and Charlie. Here are the various worksheets.
Joe and Charlie Step 4 inventory instructions:
This is a great explanation of how to do a fear inventory using the multiple column format
The BBA, by Dan S. is the first way that I did a 4th step. Dan S. sadly passed away in 2016, may his memory be a blessing. Dan was a tireless servant and will be missed by those of us in the 12 Step community.
The BBA 4th Step inventory is very detailed. I personally gained so much from this method. However, there are many people find it very complicated. In my experience, I found that I needed to change what I was doing in order to get a fresh perspective on my character defects. Otherwise, my program becomes stale and routine.
These are the BBA Step 4 worksheets:
Here is the BBA Step 4 Worksheets filled out as an example:
Below is a more in-depth explanation of the Step 4 inventory from the BBA, including examples. I recommend it as a teaching tool or if you are confused about the Step 4 inventory and want a more detailed explanation:
Expanded Step 4 Worksheets Sponsorship Guide
This is my most updated Step 4 worksheet that is 2 pages. I think that it is a bit complex, but, once you are familiar with how to take someone through the steps, it is nice to have something compact.
I find this document helpful when I do my 4th step inventory using the BBA work sheets:
Step Four compact different formatting
Herb K. also does the 4th step similar to Dan S. Both men have their own websites and are very generous about sharing their knowledge and passing their legacy forward.
Lawrie C. also shares his experience, strength and hope on how to do a 4th step inventory. He too follows the multiple column inventory format popularized by Joe and Charlie. If anyone is interested, he has YouTube videos and a book on how to do the steps and naturally, the 4th step is included.
2. The assets and liabilities inventory
Based on my understanding of the AA Big Book and the documentation gathered by Wally P., I believe that the original founders of the AA program did not do the multiple column inventory format. I believe that they followed the assets and liabilities format. And, the success rate of program at that time was 70%.
So, currently, I believe that it is best to start out using the assets and liabilities inventory format. After one becomes more proficient at doing it, then, explore other inventory methods.
Dr. Bob, in his last public speech said, “Let’s keep it simple.” A tireless servant, he took over 5,000 people though the steps, using this method. Unfortunately, he was less of a writer, and therefore, his legacy is less easily accessible. The closest that we can come to knowing some of his views is from the Table Mate, which he helped to edit, and which later turned into The Little Red Book. He also helped to edit the 1946 edition of this book. That edition is also available and I highly recommend obtaining the book.
This is from John H. who has written a wonderful book called the Spiritual Solution. He has a website, and runs back to basics workshops regularly. Please support his work. He is also a tireless servant for carrying the message to those who still suffer.
This is his worksheet. I like very much:
This is the most concise instructions on how to do the 4th step using the 4 columns and the assets and liabilities format:
3. Autobiographical inventory
This is a 1 page worksheet that I developed to take the 4th step. I find it very helpful, and I enjoy the simplicity of only using 1 page:
Below are links for a document that I developed for a Step 4 workshop.
On this page are various Step 4 inventories and formats. There are many ways to do the 4th step. Action is the magic word.
THE FOURTH STEP AND HOW TO DO IT
Here is a helpful flowchart of step 4:
This is something that I came across about the difference between Steps 4, 10 & 11:
This is a worksheet which summarizes all 12 steps, and includes detailed instructions for steps 4 and 5 using the 12 steps in 4 hours format:
Here are the documents that were created for the 12 Steps in 4 Hours Emotional Sobriety and Food Workshop:
This is my latest draft:
B2B ES&F S4 instructions12-13-2014
B2B ES&F S4 instructions12-13-2014
I will be taking the rest down, but until then, the links below are for older versions of the one above:
B2B ES&F S4 8-30-14simple and definitions
B2B ES&F S4 instructions8-28-14
This is the Step 4 Emotional Sobriety OA worksheet in a word document and a pdf file:
This is one of the best summaries on the 4th Step that I have ever come across. The original source for these worksheets is sadly no longer available.
This is a written inventory based on the 4 Absolutes, in a word document and a pdf file:
Carolyn’s 4th step-absolute inventory
There was a wonderful website by Jeremy Broomfield with terrific worksheets on all the steps. Unfortunately, the website is no longer available. The link above is no longer functional, but I am leaving it as it. I am hopeful that one day it will return.
Here are the step 4 worksheets from that site:
These are simplified personal Step 4 inventories designed to make it easy as a guide for Steps 5- 9:
Step 4 sex and harm inventory 12-28-2013
Step 4 inventory sheet – Resentments 12-28-2013
Step 4 inventory sheet harms 12-28-2013
My updated document of steps 4-9:
This is my most recent 1 page inventory sheet.
The first is in word.dox
This is a PDF
This is a document of Step 4 Inventory Formats with all the variations that I know of.
ES&F Step 4 Inventory Formats 5-17-2020
This has slightly different edits:
ES&F Step 4 Inventory Formats
I still keep editing it.
ES&F Step 4 Inventory Formats 5-17-20 bigger
Back to Basics Inventory Worksheets:
9. Updated Simplified Inventory form from Wally
Assets and Liabilities Step 4 inventories:
These are more detailed explanation of the 4th step.
A fast, quick method to do a 4th step inventory:
Additional 4th Step ideas:
12 steps of recovery Savnsobriety workbook
Here are some new ones that I found:
This is a compact inventory, which can be easily used for Step 10 as well:
This is not a program worksheet, but, it offers a more therapeutic method of “uncovering that which blocks us off from the Sunlight of the Spirit.” I have not confirmed who the author of it is, or what is the original source. Based on a recent online search, I think that the author is Joseph Ciarrochi. He has a website, and you could contact him directly if you would like to know more about his work on emotional management. His work is excellent and I highly recommend him!
Tradition 4 worksheets:
Thank you so much for your thoughtful step 4 guide.
I have been completely confused with the purpose of completing step 4 and I wanted to do it properly. There were so many guides and worksheets which just confused me even more! But your guide and the idea to keep it simple (especially John H. Instructions) have got me back on track and focused on the purpose of the step. Thank you again!
I am so happy that this has been helpful! John H’s explanation is great! The key is to keep it simple and do something that is manageable. Otherwise, I find that too many people get confused and find it overwhelming. Keep it simple!
Awesomeness! Great Job.
Thank you! I appreciate your support!
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