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Understanding The Purpose Of Group Therapy

What Is Group Therapy for Addiction?

Group therapy for addiction is a form of psychotherapy in which a group of patients meets to describe and discuss their problems together under the supervision of a therapist. Group therapy for addiction is an effective approach to treating the underlying issues of substance use disorders. Group therapy is a powerful tool for many people in recovery because it allows them to connect with others experiencing similar challenges.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, addiction affected 20.2 million people in the United States in 2014. One of the ways to tackle to problem of addiction is through group therapy[1].

Therapy groups typically comprise clients with the same therapy team who work through 12-step goals together or share mutual milestones. Processing emotions in these settings allow for a “safe space” to obtain support from peers through encouragement, assistance, and accountability. Group therapy plays a fundamental role in recovery, whatever the addiction and the condition.

Group Therapy Topics For Addiction Counseling Typically Include:

  • Recognizing and avoiding triggers
  • Handling difficult family members and peers
  • Resolving conflict in interpersonal relationships
  • Coping with common and unexpected stressors
  • Managing emotions effectively

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Types Of Group Therapy For Addiction

One of the benefits of group therapy for addiction is that it can provide companionship. An addict can see that their experiences do not isolate them and that other people are going through the same thing as they are. The common bonds members of the addiction group therapy have can be a basis for a fruitful relationship.

There are several types of group therapy utilized in substance abuse treatment, and the most common kinds include:

  • Psychoeducational Group Therapy: This group therapy focuses on teaching members about addiction and its link to mental health. Topics in these group sessions understand addiction as a disease, mental health, trauma, relapse prevention strategies, and other contributing factors of a sober lifestyle.
  • Interpersonal Process Groups: These groups focus on members’ issues, their ability to problem-solve in recovery, and group dynamics. This is a great group where members actively offer solutions to common problems addicts face in recovery. These groups provide great practice in interacting as you would in relationships with others outside rehab.
  • Cognitive/Behavioral Groups: Cognitive and dialectical behavioral therapy are two common problem-solving groups that focus on helping members recognize negative thinking and behavioral patterns and how the two contribute to addiction. These are great groups where members can learn how to problem-solve and manage triggers.
  • Skill-Development Groups: These groups teach members to relapse prevention strategies and practical skills for life outside of rehab. Members in these groups may learn communication skills, anger management, relaxation techniques, and coping with addiction triggers.
  • Support Groups: Support groups are usually for individuals who have already completed addiction treatment and need assistance in maintaining sobriety independently. Our alumni program at We Level Up is a support group for patients who received treatment at our facility.

Group Therapy For Addiction Recovery

Group therapy for addiction is a vital aspect of addiction recovery. Enrolling in an alcohol and drug rehab program is a wonderful accomplishment and a courageous step toward long-term recovery. But suppose you’re looking to rehabilitate your life honestly. In that case, you need to identify the thoughts and feelings that trigger your substance abuse, change your habits, and find new, healthier ways to cope with difficulties. Even though you may find group counseling unnerving at first, sharing your experiences with others dealing with similar issues can help you stay clean and support your effort to create the life you’ve been working towards.

Role Of Group Therapy For Addiction Treatment

Both types of group therapy are beneficial but offer different strengths for recovery.

  • Groups led by registered, certified, and licensed therapists provide group organization, structure, and direction. In addition, these facilitators focus on managing mental health concerns and developing personal recovery plans.
  • Peer-led support groups offer more accessible and convenient scheduling. The other benefit of peer groups is that group support can last for years after treatment and can lead to lifelong friendships. In any group, groups composed of people who have been through similar experiences help others share stories and perspectives.
Ryan Zofay forming a circle and hugging friends.

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Do’s & Don’ts In Group Therapy For Addiction Treatment

Group therapy is meant to offer a safe and accepting space where everyone can be honest without fear of being judged. Here are some dos and don’ts of group therapy that you should keep in mind to maintain a comfortable environment.

Do’s Of Group Therapy For Addiction Treatment:

  • Share both your achievements and your struggles in addiction recovery
  • Offer support to other members, even if you haven’t experienced that specific struggle
  • Be open to different views and ideas
  • Listen to others when they’re sharing their experiences or asking any questions
  • Reflect on your thoughts and emotions during group

Don’ts Of Group Therapy For Addiction Treatment:

  • Do not talk over or interrupt others when they’re speaking
  • Do not laugh at someone when they’re sharing
  • Do not share any personal information about another member of the group
  • Ignore other members’ feelings
  • Do not discourage other members from speaking (whether with words or with actions)

Five Benefits Of Group Therapy For Addiction Treatment

Benefits Of Group Therapy For Addiction And Lifelong Recovery
Some of the benefits of group therapy for addiction, the clients who engage in group therapy find that they lose the sense of isolation that can often be a symptom of addiction and mental health challenges.

When you are suffering from addiction, one of the biggest benefits is ensuring a good support network. Your support network could be your friends, family, and loved ones, or if, for whatever reason, they aren’t available or you need extra support from others who are going through a similar situation, group therapy may be the answer. The idea of participating in group therapy might seem intimidating. Still, it is not as bad as it looks, with many participants often surprised by how rewarding their experience can be.

Groups generally meet once or twice a week for 60-90 minutes. How much people want to reveal about themselves is very individual, but there’s security in knowing what’s said stays in the group. These groups consist of 2 to 12 participants and are led by one or more group facilitators to ensure you get the best guidance in the recovery process.

  • Support From Group Therapy For Addiction: Hearing from others with similar issues helps you see that you’re not alone in having challenges, whether you’re grappling with panic attacks, depression, or another mental health issue. As a result, many people experience a sense of relief. This is where group therapy can be far better than simply talking with your loved ones, as other group members have experienced similar situations to what you may be going through. This support can be an incredible benefit to your recovery process. In addition, the therapists that are in attendance at the group meetings will give you an insight into your mind and thought process. This perspective in your mind can be a helpful addition to your recovery process.
  • Sounding Board: These groups provide a perfect way to share real-life situations you may be experiencing. If, for example, you talk about a fight you had with your partner, group members may see things in the way you present it that you don’t. Hearing from other people about how you come across can be very powerful. You get a more comprehensive range of perspectives on your situation, which can help you deal with your problems better. In addition, this sharing of situations can be invaluable during your recovery process. Additionally, you may find that a situation someone else is having may be similar to yours. Hearing how they are dealing with it and the advice they are given to solve their problem may work for you as well.
  • Propel You Forward: These groups can ensure you carry on moving forward in your recovery process. For example, it can be very encouraging to hear how other members successfully overcame their fear of flying or how they confronted a family member about drug abuse. Patients often push themselves harder when they see what others are doing. Seeing others succeed in a situation similar to your own will give you a mindset of “If they can do it, why can’t I?” This mindset will continue to push you forward past your addiction recovery and onward through anything you do in life, whether in your career, social life, or love life.
  • Social Skills: Groups not only help to ease that sense of isolation but also allow practicing re-engaging with people. In addition, by participating in a group, you see that you can get along with others. You may find other similarities when you are in a group of people who have had a similar life. Therefore, building a social circle is incredibly important when putting your life back together after suffering from drug addiction. However, remember where you have met these people; if they fall back into bad habits, they may influence you to do the same. This is something you must be able to recognize in somebody to distance yourself and protect your recovery.
  • Learn About Yourself: Every person in the group holds up a mirror, and you see yourself through their eyes. It’s a way of uncovering the blind spots blocking your ability to overcome your issues. Knowing your limitations and triggers will ensure you know if you will relapse and situations to avoid so you don’t find yourself in situations that could tempt you back into bad habits. Furthermore, knowing yourself will help you through all aspects of life. Finally, knowing what you can do and what situations affect you, you can ensure you stay in environments that will keep you happy, healthy, and on a path to lasting recovery.

Other Benefits Of Group Therapy For Addiction

  • Connecting With Others In A Non-Judgemental Environment: Group therapy reminds clients that they do not need to be disconnected from other people during their recovery. This group connection offers a network of advice, assistance, and new skills. The clients in group therapy know that they will not be judged for what they have done in the past or how they feel in the present. In group therapy, the facilitator must be respectful and non-judgmental or redirected by all members.
  • Developing New Coping Strategies: The group discussion also introduces new coping strategies to clients. When other group members open up, peers learn from someone else who has been through the same process and may have insights about the progression of recovery.
  • Sense Of Accountability & Understanding: Group therapy provides accountability to addicts who may have struggled with holding themselves accountable in the past. It is important to remember that clients who have successfully finished a rehabilitation program are always at risk of relapse. Other group members are vital because these individuals know the risks and temptations their peers face. New members that join the group become inspired and are motivated to stay sober if they hear the stories of others, from the proud moments to the challenging ones.

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What To Expect During Group Therapy For Addiction Treatment

Now that you know how beneficial group counseling can be, here’s what you can expect during a group therapy for addiction session. Typically, group counseling sessions have anywhere from 3 to 12 members depending on where the sessions occur. Most groups meet once or twice a month for 1 to 2 hours but can also meet more often as needed.

Groups can be structured in an open or closed manner. Open groups allow new members to join at any time, while closed groups only allow members to participate until the end of the sessions. Usually, group counseling sessions at the We Level Up center are closed. Likewise, alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and other local peer support groups can be open or closed.

Benefits Of Group Therapy For Addiction And Lifelong Recovery
The benefits of group therapy for addiction offer an opportunity to give and get immediate feedback about concerns, issues, and problems affecting one’s recovery and day-to-day life.
  • Room Setup: Usually, group counseling meetings occur in a room where the chairs are arranged in a small circle. The circle shape may initially seem intimidating, but this setup helps individuals connect. For larger groups, the chairs may be in rows facing a platform.
  • Introducing Yourself: Sessions typically begin with members of the group introducing themselves. You don’t have to share your entire story during this time. Simply state your name and why you’re attending the group session.
  • Group Discussion: This is where the magic happens. Typically, the therapist decides if the meeting will be more focused on dialogue or education. If the meeting is more dialogue-based, be prepared to share. Being nervous is understandable, but everyone in the group has similar struggles and is working toward similar goals. Just share your story, worries, concerns, fears, hopes, and feelings. This is a safe space.
  • Learning Aids: During the session, the therapist may use various materials to help you apply what you’re learning. These techniques include visual aids, written projects, audio files, role-playing, and homework.
  • Updates: As you attend more sessions, you’ll become familiar with the “update” component. The process is simple: share your progress and experiences since the last session. Other people in your group counseling meeting will share as well.

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How Group Therapy For Addiction Helps The Recovery Process

Group counseling is a highly effective component of addiction recovery because being around other people looking to recover can help keep you:

  • Motivated
  • Challenged
  • Inspired
  • Supported
  • Social
  • Sober

The We Level Up rehab centers provide psychotherapy in both group and individual sessions. We also encourage involvement in recovery communities, emphasizing the 12 steps of anonymous peer support groups. Contact us today to learn more about the benefits of group therapy for addiction and how our team can help develop a treatment plan for your recovery. Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists. They know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

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[1] SAMHSA –
[2] Addiction » Helpful Groups Therapy In Addiction Recovery

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