Group therapy is a key component of a comprehensive addiction treatment program. What does this modality entail and how can you find group therapy near you?
In addition to one-on-one talk therapy, group therapy is one of the most effective treatment methods for lasting addiction recovery. Do you ever wonder what takes place in these groups? Moreover, how can something as simple as sitting in a circle with others yield life-changing lessons?
Group Therapy vs Support Groups
You’re probably familiar with the portrayal of alcohol recovery support groups in the movies. Someone stands up and says, “Hi, my name is Tim, and I’m an alcoholic.” Everyone responds with “Hi Tim.” Overall, this is reminiscent of your typical recovery support group setting.
Recovery support groups encourage you to share your success and failures with others. It’s a voluntary participation group and people decide whether they want to attend. There are various types of meetings that focus on different addictions from alcohol and drugs to food and sex. Some of these meetings have 20 or more people which makes it difficult for everyone there to share.
Though there are some similarities, group therapy is different from support groups. The main difference between group therapy and support groups is that group therapy is often part of a comprehensive rehab program. A therapist puts the group together and leads the session. They also select members they think will work well together.
Group therapy sessions are also smaller than recovery support groups. They consist of no more than five to ten people. This allows everyone an opportunity to participate and also keeps participants from feeling overwhelmed by a large group. Having smaller groups in group therapy makes it easier for people to share honestly about what they’re struggling with.
Additionally, group therapy encourages collaboration between participants. Most recovery support groups discourage referring to others during shares. In group therapy, though, people are often encouraged to communicate with one another and offer feedback from personal experience.
Group therapy also has a therapist who oversees the group and sets the tone for the session. They serve as a mediator to keep the group moving forward and a model for the correct way to interact with members. The therapist ensures everyone communicates properly and redirects conversation when things go off-topic.
What You Learn in Group Therapy
Sometimes, a group therapy setting doesn’t help people with addiction reach significant breakthroughs – although they can. Typically, individual psychotherapy is where many people get to the root of their addictive behavior. However, the group setting does allow you to build healthy social skills. Drug and alcohol addiction drive you into isolation and leave you feeling little to no trust for others.
Group therapy is a vital part of rebuilding those interpersonal skills you lost during your active addiction. It helps you connect with others, learn to communicate effectively, and share honestly with your peers. These skills are difficult to learn but group therapy provides a safe environment to develop them.
That isolation also leads people to lose their sense of empathy and slashes self-esteem. Fortunately, group therapy gives you a setting to work on rebuilding both. You’ll learn how to show your peers respect. Likewise, you’ll build higher standards for how others should speak to and interact with you.
These practices teach you to create healthy boundaries. You’ll form lasting personal relationships with group members in recovery. As you move forward and consider participating in support groups, you’ll have the necessary tools for building lasting friendships. You’ll also build life skills for re-integrating into family life and the workplace.
Therapy Modalities and Topics Used During Group
Therapists use various modalities during group therapy depending on the goal for the session. Not all sessions involve the same approach to conducting how the group members interact. Using different modalities encourages participants to focus on different topics or communicate in different ways.
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): This evidence-based treatment modality aims to help individuals accept and manage the difficulties in everyday life. It encourages the acceptance of reactions and the choice to be present during each moment.
- Anger Management: Many people in treatment for alcohol and drug addiction struggle to effectively manage and communicate their anger. Anger management groups teach skills and tools to work through times of frustration and rage.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Cognitive behavioral therapy is a classic treatment method used for a wide range of needs. It’s the most common approach to therapy and is used for many types of group therapy sessions.
- Mindfulness: Mindfulness is the practice of paying close attention to what’s going on around you. It involves cultivating awareness and settling into each moment as it passes. Mindfulness is a helpful practice for people who struggle with managing emotions, fears, and anger.
- Trauma Groups: Trauma is a common experience for many people who battle alcohol and drug addiction. Trauma groups provide a safe, comfortable space to unpack and process trauma in a group setting with others who understand and share their own similar experiences.
How the Experience Fits Into Rehab Overall
- Massage therapy
Group meetings that become part of a more extensive treatment plan treat addiction from a different angle. However, all methods work together. Sometimes, they result in positive connections between therapies that would be impossible to accomplish without diverse treatment.
Reaching Out For Help is Always Possible
Cravings and substance abuse are a vicious cycle you need help to escape. There’s no shame in seeking assistance from professionals who fully understand addiction. At Hawaii Island Recovery in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, friendly therapists help you heal and start your journey to lifelong sobriety.