How Group Therapy Helps In Recovery
During recovery, patients go through several types of therapy. Some of it is done in individual counseling sessions where a single client meets with a therapist or counselor. During these sessions, the counselor can start to get a better understanding of how the client’s background and tendencies have been of influence to their behaviors, especially as related to addiction. Individual counseling is an important part of the recovery process, but discussions often include very personal or private information that most people wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing in a group setting. For those clients who are willing to be a bit more open about their experiences, there’s another form of counseling in which several individuals can benefit from the learning of relevant information or useful skills from others in the group. Group therapy—which involves a group of patients meeting with one or more counselors—is largely an educational form of counseling. Although group therapy frequently employs some similar tactics as individual counseling, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational enhancement therapy (MET), the clients are often learning more about other’s experiences than they are sharing about their own. As a side benefit, group therapy has proven itself to be beneficial as a social tool. In group therapy, patients can interact and learn from others who may have similar stories, history or be suffering from the same type of addiction. Some are further along in their journey in recovery and in these cases, the patient can learn. For those patients who are further ahead in their recovery, they can share tips and experiences that have helped them progress. The interaction between patients builds a sense of community through shared experiences. Each individual plays a role as both a patient and a mentor, drawing encouragement and support from others in the group. It’s also worth mentioning that some patients are much more comfortable sharing their experiences with others who are less inclined to judge, largely because they’ve shared these same experiences and challenges. Further, this group of peers share their same fears, frustrations and questions about their chances for success. However, one of the most valuable aspects of group therapy is the fact that, while individuals in a group will often have one or more traits that they share or have in common, they will also have very different perspectives or opinions. When an individual in a group session learns about something familiar from a different perspective or point of view, this can be very enlightening because it helps them to consider things in new ways.
How Group Therapy Helps Conquer Addiction
The group therapy has proven successful over decades of use. It’s built-in to almost every sober living and outpatient treatment program around. In some cases, the educational side of group therapy might involve a counselor teaching any number of skills to help foster recovery and personal growth. Some of these sessions are voluntary, allowing patients to choose the areas in which they need the most work while other sessions are mandatory. An example might be group sessions for those suffering from anger management issues. Others might focus on dealing with stress. Both of these areas are often co-occurring issues that are part of an addict’s daily life and their struggles. Group therapy provides them with the training and skills they need to manage these problems which otherwise trigger a relapse if left untreated. Another example of group therapy might be a session that helps addicts develop their social skills. This can be very useful in recovery because for some people, poor social skills led them to use substances as an escape. A person suffering from substance abuse often lose their ability accurately assess the situation and relationships can suffer. Substance abuse served as an escape from having to deal with difficult situations. As such, individuals will often need to relearn essential communication skills while in recovery. Group therapy is an effective medium for learning how to be more social and more communicative. It puts individuals in a group of people that they perceive as being their peers or equals. With the pressure of judgement removed, they are free to speak openly. This is the first step to learning the social skills necessary to be comfortable around people. It’s not uncommon for, members of substance abuse therapy groups to create lasting friendships with individuals with whom they received group thearpy. Along with individual therapy, family therapy, and medication management, group therapy is an indispensable element of effective substance abuse and mental health treatment. Group therapy is a broad term for any type of therapy aimed at creating symptom reduction and recovery in two or more people.
Group therapy is an option that can be as effective as individual sessions.
Group therapy will typically have a group leader running the session. Unlike family therapy, the members in group therapy will not usually have a pre-existing relationship outside of sessions. Group therapy sessions can be conducted in variety of settings and levels of care, including:
- Hospital-based inpatient programs.
- Residential programs.
- Outpatient recovery programs.
- For someone committed to ending their drug use and beginning a period of recovery, group therapy is an option that can be as effective as individual sessions.
Group therapy has a number of advantageous elements that equal or surpass individual therapy, such as the ability to:
- Offer members education about the recovery process.
- Provide support and motivation from peers to maintain recovery goals.
- Give members the opportunity to observe issues encountered by others in recovery and observe their methods of problem-solving.
- Empower group members by encouraging them to offer assistance and feedback to other members.
- Teach healthy coping skills to manage daily stressors without resorting to substance use.
- Boost structure and routine in the lives of group members.
- Build a sense of optimism, self-worth, and belief in the group members.
- Develop relationships between group members that can be used outside of sessions for support and encouragement.
- Effectively treat many individuals simultaneously with one therapist, allowing those clients quicker access to therapy.
- Utilize therapeutic tools (such as challenging irrational beliefs and confronting poor decision-making) to modify behaviors.
Is Group Therapy Right for Me?
People interested in attending a therapy group will need to be matched up with a group that suits their individual needs. Before placing a recovering individual in a group, a provider will consider the individual’s:
- Treatment preferences.
- Unique needs.
- Emotional stability.
- Stage in recovery.
Some people will not be a fit for group therapy based on their current status. This therapeutic method may be inappropriate for those who:
- Refuse group therapy as a viable treatment option.
- Cannot maintain confidentiality and are at risk for breaking group rules.
- Are currently in crisis with severe, unmanageable symptoms.
- Struggle to build suitable relationships.
- Experience extreme stress around other people and new situations.
Other groups, like women and adolescents, require special considerations when it comes to placement in a therapy group. Some evidence shows that women who participate in women-only groups may have better outcomes than those in groups with men. Also, there is some risk that adolescents in group therapy may actually encourage/reinforce substance use with each other. Leaders of adolescent groups must be aware of this risk and actively manage it.
Types of Group Therapy
If group therapy is recommended for you, there are typically 5 separate models of group sessions that you may encounter:
- Psychoeducational groups.
- Skill development groups.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy groups.
- Support groups.
- Interpersonal process groups.
With a knowledgeable and proficient treatment professional, any model can offer strong benefits; however, certain models may better fit your individual needs. Additionally, some therapy groups may take advantage of several models during the course of the meetings, meaning that they shift from one model to another.
If you’d like to learn more about what to expect while in recovery, contact us. We’ll walk you through your options with no obligation.
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