Enlisting the help of a substance addiction treatment program is a significant step toward recovery, one that entails considerable strength. The thought of coming face to face with your demons and transforming your lifestyle in extraordinary ways may bring about various emotions, including hope, anxiety, and possibly fear. One of the most anxiety-provoking perspectives of substance addiction treatment for most is the therapy process. It’s natural to feel some resistance to the possibility of exposing your soul to a foreigner during counseling or individual therapy. Even more intimidating is the idea of addiction group therapy for addiction, which is an essential part of most substance addiction treatment programs. While both group and individual therapy forms are intended to help patients gain insight, learn coping skills, and how to work through challenging problems, addiction group therapy has several benefits that complement individual therapy.
What is Group Therapy for Addiction?
Group therapy for addiction 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.
Benefits of Group Therapy for Addiction
Recovering from drug addiction can make you feel isolated and alienated. In group therapy, you’ll connect with people who have gone through experiences similar to yours and are in addiction recovery. You may feel safer sharing your thoughts and feelings with peers who understand. If you’re considering group therapy for addiction, consider these other major benefits.
Broad Range of Feedback
It seems like we should know ourselves better than anyone else but that’s almost never true. Our self-images are always distorted and we mostly understand ourselves through interacting with other people. In that respect, group therapy is a rare opportunity to understand yourself better. In some ways, it’s even better than individual therapy. In individual therapy, you have to rely on the feedback of your therapist, which you may disagree with. After all, therapists have their own biases and blind spots too. You may resist your therapist’s suggestions for what seem like rational reasons. However, in group therapy, you can get a greater variety of feedback. If several group members agree that you’re behaving irrationally in some way, you may be more likely to take that feedback seriously.
Allows Your Therapist to See How You Interact with Others
One major drawback of individual therapy is that most of the time, you are the therapist’s only source of information about your life. Most people don’t go into a session with the aim of deliberately deceiving their therapists but we all see the world through our own filters. We describe other people’s actions as we see them and not necessarily as they are. However, in group therapy, we are interacting with others in real time. Your parent or spouse may not be part of the group but the way you interact with group members can give the therapist insight into how you interact with other people in your life.
Helps You Improve Your Communication Skills
Most of us assume we are good communicators but few of us actually are. Most of the time, we don’t listen well and we have no idea whether someone else has actually listened to us or understood what we said. Poor communication skills have consequences for every area of our lives, including our careers, personal lives, and random interactions. Interpersonal conflict is the biggest source of stress for most people. Group therapy improves your communication skills because you are all engaged in the project of listening and understanding. If you haven’t understood someone correctly, someone else will likely jump in. Not only will you sharpen your listening and empathy skills, but you will also see how others misinterpret what you say and you will gradually learn to communicate more clearly. This is not an opportunity we normally get in our daily interactions.
A Sense of Belonging
Individuals suffering from alcohol or substance use disorders usually become isolated from friends, family, and the world in general. Their substance use strains their relationships and could even cause irreversible damage. Addiction group therapy allows these people to experience a feeling of connection and belonging that was missing from their lives. The recognition that they’re not alone in this struggle helps to ease their feelings of isolation, which will allow for healing and positive transformation to occur.
Unique Aspects of Group Therapy
The group therapy process allows members to benefit from their communications with other group members, along with the interaction and input of the therapist. During individual therapy, members might question if the therapist has ever walked in their shoes and can understand what they are truly going through.
In addiction group therapy, patients will have at least one thing in common with their peers amongst the group: substance or alcohol use disorder. Another unique element of addiction group therapy is that the group itself represents a small duplicate of each other’s lives in the world outside of treatment. In other words, each individual’s strengths and weaknesses are exhibited over time in the group setting.
For example, if a group member gets defensive in response to constructive input, that struggle will resurface during the addiction group therapy process. This provides an excellent opportunity for group members to work on challenges in a secure setting. And as always, they are working with the help and support of their peers.
What to Expect During Group Therapy for Addiction
Group therapy sessions may be open or closed. Open meaning brand-new members can join at any time, or closed means the group members remain the same from start to finish.
Open groups can be continuous, with no specific beginning or end date, while closed groups are generally composed for a predestined number of weeks or months. Outpatient therapy groups are regularly closed groups, while inpatient and residential group sessions are usually open groups.
Therapy groups can be led by a singular therapist or co-led by two therapists. The therapists must be licensed and have experience doing addiction group therapy. The role of the therapist will be to set and augment group therapy guidelines and rules, lead the group discussions, and ensure the atmosphere is healthy and productive for all members.
The group therapist will ask questions, encourage cooperation, give feedback when needed, and observe how members interact within the group. The principal goal is to help all members benefit in a way that leads them closer to achieving their individual therapy goals.
Get Help Today
If you or a loved one suffers from substance abuse, now is the time to get them back to a healthy lifestyle. Our treatment specialists here at Harmony Ridge Recovery Center have the tools and experience to help end addiction for good.
Whether it’s your first time in treatment or you just need some questions answered, contact us today for a free consultation.