Therapy is no doubt one of the cornerstones of recovery from substance abuse. When you’re going through a crisis and considering your counseling options, think about addiction group therapy. Thousands of people have been able to recover from substance use disorder by attending regular group meetings.
From psychoeducational groups to support groups, you can find a meeting that’s right for you.
What is Group Therapy?
Group therapy involves one or more therapists and several patients. Groups can meet in locations like churches, libraries, hospitals, or even members’ houses. This mode of therapy is commonly integrated into a drug treatment plan.
Dr. J.H. Pratt started holding group therapy sessions in 1906 to educate patients suffering from tuberculosis. Over time, he saw that each patient benefited from the sessions when they shared their experiences with each other. After World War II, group therapy became more popular when veterans met in group sessions and supported one another.
Group therapy will mainly focus on one issue, like addiction, social anxiety, obesity, depression, or chronic pain. Sometimes, they’ll focus on several topics, like developing social skills. This is especially helpful for people who suffer from borderline personality disorder.
What to Expect in Group Therapy
Each session will have your therapist and anywhere from six to 12 patients. You’ll usually meet weekly for about one to two hours. A session might begin with an icebreaker so everyone can get to know each other. During your sessions, you’ll practice a wide range of exercises. Some of them will be more physical, like team building, or they’ll be more driven by dialogue (sharing stories or reading).
Smaller groups generally work better since your therapist can give more attention to each person. Some studies also show that group therapy produces more long-term results than individual therapy.
You might feel intimidated by addiction group therapy at first. However, the benefits far outweigh the negatives. Sharing your feelings with people you’ve never met before can seem scary. It’s hard enough to do that with just a therapist. However, with time you’ll find that you get comfortable with your peers and can open up more.
Principles of Group Therapy
There are eleven different principles of group therapy. These are derived from people who have participated in addiction group therapy. They were compiled by Irvin D. Yalom into “The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy.”
When you’re part of a group of people who have gone through similar experiences, you won’t feel alone. You’ll see that your issues are universal.
This principle involves showing selfless concern for others’ well being. In group therapy, you’ll help your fellow members and share your strengths. This can increase your confidence and self-esteem.
When you’re in group therapy, you can imitate your therapist’s behavior and also model the behavior of your fellow members.
You and your fellow members will feel a sense of acceptance since your group has a common goal. Together, you make up one unit with the same purpose.
Even though you’ll have support and guidance while in addiction group therapy, you’ll learn that you are responsible for your choices and actions.
Developing Social Techniques
This is something you’ll do a great deal of when you’re in group therapy. Here, you can practice new behaviors in a supportive and safe setting. You can try out these new behaviors without worrying about failing. Think of this as a practice session.
Catharsis is the process of releasing strong emotions, and group therapy is a great outlet for this. When you share your experiences with other group members, don’t be surprised if you feel relieved of stress, pain, or guilt.
You’ll all help each other out by providing information to the group while in therapy.
Corrective Recapitulation of the Primary Family Group
In many ways, your group is like a family. During your sessions, you’ll see how your family and childhood experiences have contributed to your behaviors and personality. You’ll also learn how to stay away from behaviors that hinder you in your everyday life.
You’ll get a better understanding of yourself through interactions with your group and therapist. Feedback can greatly help with this as well.
Most importantly, addiction group therapy instills hope in its members. Each person is at a different phase of their treatment, so people in early recovery might be more nervous. Seeing those who have succeeded in maintaining sobriety will give these people strength.
Types of Addiction Group Therapy
Group therapy isn’t just people coming together to talk about their issues. It comes in specific formats that cater to different needs. Read below to learn more about each one, and see which one is right for you.
- Psychoeducational groups: These educate people on substance abuse. Leaders of psychoeducational groups use videos and lectures to encourage participants to grow and change.
- Problem-solving/cognitive behavioral groups: Like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), cognitive behavioral groups aim to identify any of your negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Over time, you’ll learn how to change these into positive ones.
- Skills development groups: Skills development groups will teach you coping skills for such issues as recovering from substance abuse, avoiding triggers, and anger.
- Interpersonal process groups: These groups offer a less-structured environment that focuses on interpersonal relationships and your reactions to them. Much like support groups, process groups encourage people to give each other feedback.
- Support groups: Support groups can be incredibly effective for people in recovery. Popular support groups include 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA).
Group Therapy vs. Individual Therapy
Whereas group therapy involves several people guided by a therapist, individual therapy is more personal and intimate. It involves only you and your therapist. Group therapy allows you to interact with other people with the same issues as you.
Group therapy is also more effective for people suffering from addiction. It isn’t necessarily better than individual therapy; it’s just more effective for treating certain conditions and issues. There are pros and cons to both forms.
How Can Group Therapy Help with Addiction?
Group therapy is especially good for helping people recover from substance use disorder. It surrounds you with people who have also suffered from this disease, and they can teach you what they’ve learned.
In addiction group therapy, you’ll receive education on the recovery process, get the motivation to achieve your sobriety goals, learn healthy coping skills, and develop relationships that can strengthen outside of meetings.
What Are the Benefits of Group Therapy?
- You’ll receive support from other group members. This calls back to the universality principle. When you hear about what others are going through, you’ll realize that you’re not alone. They’ll be able to offer you insight and advice.
- Group therapy provides a haven. You can do and say things in your sessions knowing that you’re in a secure and safe environment.
- It’s affordable. Group therapy is about one-third of the price of individual therapy. This is because counselors can focus on multiple people at once instead of just one person.
- Members can serve as role models for each other. You’ll see that there’s hope for recovery when you look at someone coping healthily with their issues. These people can instill confidence and be role models for you.
- You’ll observe how members behave in and respond to social situations. When your therapist sees this, they can provide each of you with feedback that will help you improve. This also provides diversity.
How Can I Make the Most Out a Group Therapy Session?
When you’re choosing addiction group therapy, you should consider a few factors. These include the group size as well as the issues your group addresses. You’ll also want to think about how much you’ll want to share with your group members.
Below are a few tips you can follow to make the most out of your sessions.
- Be honest and open. The most important thing to do while in group therapy is to open up. You won’t get much out of your sessions if you stay closed and bottle up your feelings. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and stay active in your meetings. You might be afraid to share your experiences, but remember that group therapy is a safe place.
- Don’t monologue. After a while, you might get more comfortable opening up to your peers. However, you don’t want to monopolize the conversation, either. You also want the opportunity to share a dialogue with your peers. You should use these personal experiences you share as lessons. Use your sessions to better understand them, too.
- Observe the group dynamics. Do you feel closer to some members but more distant from others? How is your relationship with the lead therapist? Voice your thoughts concerning these questions with the group. This way, you can learn what draws you to certain people and pushes you away from others.
- Gracefully accept feedback. We don’t always like to hear criticism from other people. Try not to get defensive when other group members give you feedback on what you’ve said. This is an opportunity for you to listen to another point of view. If you don’t like how the feedback makes you feel, voice your opinion. You can use this time to talk out your feelings and get feedback from others in the group as well.
- Provide feedback. Express how you feel when you hear someone else’s story. Be specific about which remark or emotion you’re responding to. Try to give feedback as soon as you can so it will still be relevant during your session.
When you follow these tips, you learn how to get so much out of your addiction group therapy sessions.
Addiction Group Therapy at CNV Detox
Our staff at CNV Detox is no stranger to substance use disorder. We know how difficult it is to leave drugs and alcohol behind for good. From the moment you walk through our doors, you’ll feel a sense of belonging and security.
CNV Detox offers group therapy in different formats. We’ll help you choose the one that’s best for your needs. If you think you could benefit from addiction group therapy or other treatment, contact us today.