Group therapy and the experiential group therapy activities often involved are a mainstay for those who desire to overcome substance abuse forever. While both individual and group therapy are designed to help individuals gain insight, learn healthier coping skills, and work through challenging issues, group therapy has many unique benefits that complement individual therapy. That’s why group therapy is so important.
What is Group Therapy?
Group therapy, in a nutshell, is therapy that involves two or more individuals at the same time – in addition to the therapist – rather than one person in recovery working one-on-one with a therapist. Participants in a therapy group take turns talking about their struggles, feelings, experiences, and goals. Therapy groups may be tailored to a specific recovery topic, such as how to recognize and avoid triggers, or they may be general, such as how to handle difficult family, peer, work, or other interpersonal relationships.
Group Therapy and Addiction Treatment are Natural Allies
The group therapy process allows you to benefit from your interactions with other group members, not just from the input of and interaction with the therapist. In individual therapy you may wonder if the therapist has ever walked in your shoes and can even begin to truly understand what you’re going through. In group therapy for alcohol or substance use disorders, however, you’re guaranteed to have at least one thing in common with the people in your group: your alcohol or substance use disorder.
The effectiveness of group therapy in the treatment of substance abuse also can be attributed to the nature of addiction and several factors associated with it, including (but not limited to) depression, anxiety, isolation, denial, shame, temporary cognitive impairment, and character pathology (personality disorder, structural deficits, or an incohesive sense of self). Whether a person abuses substances or not, these problems often respond better to group treatment than to individual therapy. Group therapy is also effective because people are fundamentally relational creatures.
Advantages of Group Treatment
- Group Therapy provides positive peer support and pressure to abstain from substances of abuse.
- Groups reduce the sense of isolation that most people who have substance abuse disorders experience.
- Groups enable people who abuse substances to witness the recovery of others.
- Groups help members learn to cope with their substance abuse and other problems by allowing them to see how others deal with similar problems.
- Groups can provide useful information to clients who are new to recovery.
- Groups provide feedback concerning the values and abilities of other group members.
- Groups offer family‐like experiences.
- Groups offer members the opportunity to learn or relearn the social skills they need to cope with everyday life instead of resorting to substance abuse.
- Groups can effectively confront individual members about substance abuse and other harmful behaviors.
- Groups allow a single treatment professional to help a number of clients at the same time.
- Groups can add needed structure and discipline to the lives of people with substance use disorders, who often enter treatment with their lives in chaos.
- Groups often support and provide encouragement to one another outside the group setting.
This is why group therapy and support groups are avenues everyone on the road to recovery should explore. If you want to find out more, be sure to give us a call at Oak Forest Recovery on (805) 390-6647