In terms of their self-understanding, these churches can vary from regarding themselves as the only legitimate church for a particular region or ethnicity (invariably hostile to the mainstream claimants) to a sort of Protestant pluralist perspective in which all groups with "apostolic succession" (including themselves) are regarded as legitimately "Catholic," "Orthodox," "Christian," "Church," "Apostolic," etc. Usually, however, the mainstream claimants to these labels (e.g. the [[Orthodox Church]], the [[Roman Catholic Church]], or the [[Anglican Communion]]) do not regard these groups as legitimate claimants to such titles and are not in [[full communion|communion]] with them. Occasionally, such a group will enter into communion with the Church, as the [[Society of Clerks Secular of St. Basil]] did with the [[Church of Antioch]] in 1961 or the [[Evangelical Orthodox Church]] did in the late 1980s with Antioch or the [[OCA]].
Because they regard their historical claims as being valid over and against the Protestantism with which they are often associated, they will often go to great lengths to prove their historical succession from more generally recognized episcopacies. They also often have an "
alternate" history set forth in great detail on websites and in publications, focused on rebutting claims either by the mainstream churches or against others in the independent movement, and their websites are usally significantly dedicated to such topics, including mainstream media references (which are themselves widely known in Orthodox circles to have accuracy problems in their reporting) such as obituaries, and obscure documents of ordinations and the like. Major portions of such documents are typically focused on asserting the "canonicity" of the group in question.
Verifying the histories the independent churches set forth regarding themselves can be quite difficult, usually because their obscurity and small size does not typically warrant treatment by scholarly sources. If they are mentioned in academic sources, they usually dedicate portions of their histories to denouncing the alleged slander from the mainstream.