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Group therapy involves a group of people attempting to address similar issues, such as substance abuse, who will meet under the supervision of a trained professional. It is a form of psychotherapy often used in substance abuse treatment facilities. Regardless of the type of substance use disorder, group therapy is a necessary element of a comprehensive residential and outpatient treatment plan.
Group therapy is intended to provide support, structure, encouragement, and accountability to individuals in recovery. It creates a safe environment where group members can share their perspectives, feelings, and struggles with others who can relate to them. Group members can also provide one another with support and advice to help them learn from each other’s experiences.
Group therapy can help diminish feelings of isolation and shame prevalent among individuals battling addiction. Typically, group therapy is used with other forms of addiction treatment, such as individual therapy and medication-assisted treatment.
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Mental health professionals or certified addiction professionals often facilitate group therapy within substance abuse treatment programs. Depending on the program, these groups may be held in person or virtually. The size, frequency, duration, and content can vary depending on the facility and the patient’s needs.
Most group therapy sessions will average about five to ten participants. The frequency and duration of group therapy in a residential treatment setting will typically consist of multiple daily group sessions, usually lasting about 60 to 90 minutes. Different types of group therapy sessions are as follows.
These group therapy sessions are designed to educate patients about substance abuse and related behaviors and consequences. In addition, individuals are educated on life skills and provided with other information that can help them better understand their mental health issues.
Group members will learn to develop healthy coping skills, relapse prevention skills, and other skills to promote long-term sobriety. All skills learned during a skill development group are meant to help patients develop a knowledge base to help them make better decisions in the face of stressful triggers that may cause relapse.
A form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), cognitive behavioral groups are one of the most common types of group therapy sessions. Using the same principles and approaches used in CBT, group members learn to change their thoughts and behaviors to maintain long-term sobriety.
Addiction support groups allow people to share their experiences in a safe, caring environment. Often, support groups are peer-led and used to establish trust and support between the group members. Many support groups focus on specific substances, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Cocaine Anonymous (CA). In contrast, others focus more broadly on addiction, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA).
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These less structured groups promote vulnerability, connection, communication, and support between group members.
Developing group cohesion and trust is vital to group therapy because it allows people to feel supported and creates an environment where people are open to sharing their feelings and experiences.
Group therapy sessions cover various topics and content, depending on the client’s needs and the treatment program’s modality. Some common topics usually discussed during group therapy include the following:
The main intention of the topics discussed in group therapy sessions is to help clients develop the skills and knowledge they need to maintain long-term sobriety and create a fulfilling life in recovery.
Group therapy offers many benefits to individuals seeking help for mental health and substance abuse. Group therapy is a productive form of treatment that has been around for many years. Some benefits of group therapy include the following.
In group therapy, individuals can connect with others and learn things they may not learn while in an individual counseling session. In addition, many group therapies found within treatment centers, such as some 12-step programs, have groups across the country that patients can join after leaving treatment. This can help build a sense of community and support long after your residential or outpatient treatment has finished.
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Group therapy can help participants maintain accountability in their recovery by providing a place to share their progress and receive feedback and encouragement from peers and group facilitators. Telling others of potential goals, aspirations, or other things you’d like to achieve can also help foster accountability, as they can help hold you to your word.
Individuals with substance abuse issues often struggle with social isolation, which decreases healthy social skills and inhibits the building of healthy relationships. Group therapy helps people improve their social skills, listening skills, and practicing assertiveness. In turn, this can help individuals improve their relationships.
Group therapy empowers participants to learn from others’ experiences. This experience can be an influential source of awareness and inspiration. Group members may gain new perspectives and insights into their recovery process by listening to the stories and perspectives of their peers.
In group therapy, individuals gain validation, acceptance, and positive feedback from their peers, which helps improve self-esteem and confidence. They can also learn from others, which helps build confidence in overcoming challenges.
Group therapy is an essential part of addiction treatment. Individuals may benefit from the community support it provides, a chance to learn and grow from the experience of others, and the encouragement and accountability needed to maintain long-term recovery. To learn more about group therapy for addiction, contact a treatment provider today.
Amber Biello-Taylor, CAP, LCSW
Amber Biello-Taylor is a Certified Addiction Professional (CAP) with over 10 years of professional addiction treatment experience.
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