Group therapy 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 if you’re looking to truly rehabilitate your life, you need to identify the thoughts and emotions 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 who are dealing with similar issues can help you to stay clean and support your effort to create the life you’ve been working towards.
What Is Group Therapy?
Group therapy is a form of counseling used to treat psychological disorders such as substance abuse and addiction. Unlike one-on-one counseling, group therapy typically involves a therapist and 2 or more individuals at the same time. During sessions, individuals take turns talking about their struggles, feelings, experiences, and goals. In recovery, group counseling topics 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
Benefits of Group Therapy
Most people feel some type of fear or awkwardness during initial group counseling sessions. However, once you become accustomed to the process, there are many ways you can benefit from group therapy.
In addition to providing you a safe, non-judgmental outlet to open up about your struggles, group therapy can:
- Provide a place to interact with other people, which prevents loneliness and isolation
- Show you how to cope with and overcome drug and alcohol addiction
- Boost your confidence and self-esteem
- Reduce feelings of stress, guilt, and pain
- Teach you how to avoid destructive behaviors
- Inspire you to look at situations and experiences from a different perspective
- Encourage you to practice new, healthy behaviors
- Help you set and accomplish goals
Even though group counselors typically moderate the discussion and provide feedback and additional advice, participating in group therapy can provide individuals other benefits, including:
- Support and encouragement
- Improved behavior patterns
- Diverse, flexible thinking
- Trust and understanding
What To Expect During Group Therapy
Now, that you know how beneficial group counseling can be, here’s what you can expect during a group therapy session.
Typically, group counseling sessions have anywhere from 3 to 12 members depending on the setting where sessions take place. 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 taking place on-site at a recovery center are closed. Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and other local peer support groups can be open or closed.
- Room setup. Usually, group counseling meetings take place in a room where the chairs are arranged in a small circle. The circle shape may seem intimidating at first, but this setup really helps individuals connect with one another. 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 are 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 a variety of different materials to help you apply what you’re learning. These techniques can 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 of group counseling. The process is simple: share your progress and experiences since the last session. Other people in your group counseling meeting will share as well.
How Group Therapy 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:
Peers In Group Therapy Can Challenge You To Remain Sober
One of the hardest parts of recovery is remaining substance-free. Luckily, being around like-minded people in group therapy can challenge you to remain sober.
Unlike individual counseling that focuses solely on you, group counseling allows you to hear, see, and experience others’ recovery journeys. Simply hearing others’ updates from week to week can help keep you inspired. Hearing others’ successful updates can also remind you that recovery is possible, which can boost your confidence and self-esteem.
Knowing that you’ll be expected to share an update during group counseling can also help challenge you to remain sober. Recovering from addictive substances isn’t easy, but participating in group therapy can help you effectively rise to the challenge and meet your recovery goal.
Group Therapy Helps Avoid Feelings Of Isolation and Loneliness
Many behavioral health experts refer to addiction as a “disease of isolation.” In many ways, addiction thrives off of isolation and loneliness. Most people experience cravings when they feel lonely and distant from others. These cravings can lead to relapse. Group therapy can help combat feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Individual counseling, though helpful, can make you feel like you’re the only one recovering. Group counseling reminds you that you’re not alone and that you’re not the only person recovering. Participating in group therapy is a good, healthy way to intentionally combat the “lonely” in the “HALT” acronym (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired).
Group Therapy Helps Build A Supportive, Sober Network
Group therapy can also help you combat loneliness by allowing you to meet, interact, and connect with individuals that share the same goals as you. Having support is an essential part of successful recovery and group therapy can help you connect with individuals that:
- Understand your struggle
- Experience, manage and overcome cravings
- Desire a recovery from addiction
- Understand what you’re learning during counseling
Take advantage of this opportunity and connect with these individuals. These kinds of relationships can be the difference between recovery and relapse.
Group Therapy Helps Work on Interpersonal Relationships
Group therapy can also help you work on your social skills. Addiction can really strain relationships with some family members and friends. Addiction can also make you think solely of yourself and your substance of choice. Group therapy can help you re-learn the benefits of interpersonal relationships. In group therapy, you can learn a plethora of interpersonal skills such as:
- Conflict management
You can learn these skills in individual therapy, but learning them in group therapy helps you to apply these skills as you learn them. Doing so can help you rebuild relationships with your family, friends, employers, coworkers, and peers.
A Community That’ll Help You Overcome Addiction and Thrive
Here at Genesis Recovery, we pride ourselves on our community-oriented approach to treatment. We don’t believe that anyone should have to recover from addiction alone. Come join our large, close-knit, faith-based recovery community. We can help you overcome addiction and live a meaningful, purposeful life. Contact us today to learn more.