During addiction treatment, the person undergoing treatment will participate in a variety of therapy sessions. One of those types of therapies is group therapy, or group counseling. Group counseling for substance abuse is a crucial part of the overall treatment process in that it provides those in group therapy an opportunity to build a support system that they will continue to utilize after they have finished treatment and returned to their daily lives. Since the therapist and participants in a therapy group stay the same, it allows for trust and respect to be built along with those feelings of support and belonging.
What Is Group Therapy?
For the most part, group therapy is exactly what it sounds like. It is a therapy session consisting of a therapist and patients in a group setting. Sometimes group therapy will have one therapist who leads the sessions, while in other instances there will be multiple therapists. This depends largely on the number of people in the group.
During group therapy sessions, the therapist or therapists will lead the group in a topic for that particular session, typically revolving around substance abuse and mental health. As we mentioned above, these group therapy sessions tend to have the same therapist and group members in order to help build rapport and trust among the group members. Having the same therapists and group members in a therapy group also helps the therapy group members build a support system. This is crucial to getting and staying sober.
Another aspect of group therapy is the sharing component. To go along with the topic of discussion in the session, group members might have the opportunity to go around and share things pertaining to that topic. This is another way in which a support system is created. Sharing personal experiences or stories allows not only a bond or connection to be made, but can also serve as a piece of advice for others who may have gone through similar experiences.
Are There Different Types of Group Therapies?
As it pertains to substance abuse and addiction treatment, there are actually several different types of group therapies. Some of these types of group therapy include.
Support groups are a common group therapy that a person participates in during treatment. It is also a vital tool once treatment has ended.
Support groups center around the day-to-day life of the group therapy participants as well as things that might come up that could potentially affect their sobriety. Support groups are particularly vital during the early stages of the addiction recovery process. This is because they provide a much-needed support system for those who are newly sober along with a sense of accountability and comradery.
Psychoeducational groups focus on the mental side of addiction as well as any mental health issues that might accompany said substance abuse issues. As the name states, psychoeducational groups are educational, with topics of discussion focusing on things like:
- Medical and mental health conditions
- Relapse prevention
- Creating a healthier lifestyle
- The disease of addiction
During psychoeducational group therapy sessions, the therapist or therapists will encourage each group member to relate the topics at hand to the challenges that they have faced in their own lives.
Skills Development Groups
When it comes to treatment and therapy, while the main goal is to achieve sobriety, it is also important to maintain sobriety once treatment has ended. Skills development groups provide vital relapse-prevention tools that the participants can use once they have completed treatment in order to maintain their sobriety. These group sessions might teach those in attendance how to do things like refuse drugs, combat cravings in a healthy manner, better manage their anger, and improve communication skills and relaxation techniques.
Cognitive-Behavioral and Problem-Solving Groups
These group therapy sessions focus on the self-destructive behaviors and tendencies of the group members. They also focus on different techniques that can be applied to prevent those same behaviors and tendencies from happening again in the future. This type of group teaches individuals problem-solving skills in addition to learning to identify those self-destructive patterns.
What Are The Benefits of Group Therapy?
When many people begin suffering from addiction, they tend to remove themselves both physically and mentally from those around them such as friends, family, or even society as a whole. Their priorities tend to change and their main priority becomes their substance of abuse. One of the things that they have to re-learn while in treatment is how to become a fully functioning member of society again.
This is one of the biggest things that group therapy does. It teaches individuals how to be around other people again. It also re-teaches individuals the necessary social skills needed to function in group settings. Some of the other significant benefits of addiction group therapy include:
Support and Encouragement
There are many different reasons someone suffers from substance abuse issues. For example, they might suffer from mental health conditions and they used drugs or alcohol as a way to self-medicate. Individuals with substance abuse issues might also have been prescribed a drug by their doctors that resulted in the development of addiction. People with substance abuse issues might even have simply tried a substance and due to genetic factors, their brains told them that they liked it and to continue to use it.
Regardless of the reason, all people with substance abuse issues experience addiction triggers that prompt them to want to use substances in the first place. For a newly sober person, these addiction triggers can be downright terrifying, as they have the ability to cause a person to relapse.
Group therapy provides much-needed support and encouragement. Not only does it help re-teach vital skills needed to re-enter society, but it also provides a support system needed to help encourage everyone to be accountable and stay sober, no matter what triggers might arise. Group therapy also allows people to share their own experiences in hopes that those stories and experiences might help others maintain sobriety should they find themselves in similar situations.
Teaches To Give Back
In group therapy, group members learn how to help one another. By doing things that can help others, a person can re-learn how to do things that can benefit those around them instead of only looking out for themselves and their needs. This, in turn, can also improve a person’s self-esteem. Showing compassion and understanding for others and improving one’s self-esteem are two crucial steps in the long-term recovery process.
Shows That The Program Works
When people can see that something that they are doing while in recovery worked for another person, it not only makes them feel better about the choices that they have made, but it also shows them that it works. Over time in group therapy, a person begins to witness the victories of others. Some of these victories might be small and some might be more significant. Regardless, it is important to witness these victories as it is a reminder that the program does, in fact, work.
What Are Some of the Dos and Don’ts of Group Therapy?
The goal of group therapy is to provide a safe space where people feel comfortable both sharing their life experiences and listening to others share theirs. The topics discussed in group therapy oftentimes aren’t easy and therefore leave those in attendance feeling vulnerable. Due to the delicate nature of group therapy for addiction treatment, there are some things you should avoid doing while participating. In addition, there are also things that you can do to better the experience for both yourself and others.
The following are some things that you should absolutely do during group therapy:
- Be open and willing to share
- Provide support for other members of the group
- Be open to new ideas as well as different perspectives
- Actively listen to others when they are sharing
- Apply what you have learned outside of group therapy
- Take time to reflect both during and after therapy
On the opposite side of that, there are certain things that under no circumstances should you do during group therapy. Some of the big no-nos include:
- Talk over someone or interrupt them
- Discount the feelings of others
- Act in a judgemental manner
- Share any information pertaining to the group to people outside of the group
- Ignore others while they are sharing
- Behave in a manner that would imply you are disinterested
Are You Interested in Group Counseling For Substance Abuse?
Group therapy is a vital tool in the recovery process and something that is incredibly beneficial. Not only does it teach individuals how to interact in a social setting again while sober but it can also be a great tool for providing a support system. Group therapy also helps people learn ways in which they can combat cravings for substances and maintain their sobriety.
At the Owls Nest, we understand the importance of group therapy which is why we include it in all of our treatment plans. If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction and could benefit from treatment, contact us today.