The opposite of addiction is not recovery, it is connection. (Weiss, 2015) Connection and relationships are often the missing key for a person maintaining long-term recovery. Group sessions allow for powerful social connections between group members and the group facilitators. At Genesis Recovery, skilled counselors facilitate multiple groups throughout the day. The benefits come from both the information being taught and the group experience and bonding among those who support each other.
Types of Groups
This type of group is typically the first group of the day, allowing group members to focus on a spiritual principle. Those that do not hold to a spiritual belief find what they can relate to and focus on that strength. This group often includes gratefulness, appreciation, building core values, and connecting to God or their higher power.
Addictions often take over a person’s life, preventing them from learning tools to manage everyday difficulties. As substances leave a person’s body, they may be left with a lot of emotions, be easily irritated, lack focus or motivation, be too aggressive, or too passive. These all add up to lack of coping skills for life. This group teaches skills for communication, relationship skills, refusal skills, emotional regulation, boundary setting, diligence, and many other skills that will help them right away in treatment as well as when they are back with family, friends, and work. One great value in a coping skills group is role play. Group members might practice coping skills with each other through role play, giving them a higher chance of using the tools in other situations.
This type of group allows for the open discussion of any topics group members would like to bring up. It could be that they just had the anniversary of the death of a loved one, or they received difficult news, or they are just overwhelmed with the recognition of what their addiction has cost them. A process group is led and directed by a skilled counselor who allows time for venting and support and then strategically turns the conversation to awareness, responsibility, and learning. People gain a new way to view their situation that allows for healing and a better future.
This group is similar to the coping skills group but can be broader, including education on topics that help people maintain long-term recovery. An example of a topic for psychoeducation might be information on the biology of addiction and how the brain and body are impacted. A person may learn about the sympathetic nervous system and how this “fight or flight response” may play a big part in relapse. These groups often result in the identification of a pattern or behavior that could be changed based on the new information. The groups will also allow time for members to discuss applications of this new knowledge and how the information impacts them. Awareness does not always result in change, but it gives a person a fighting chance for change and an increased motivation for why they should change.
Research in the field of counseling and psychology has shown a great benefit to group dynamics. At the beginning, the group goes through a time of learning to trust each other. Group members also decide if the group facilitator is trustworthy and relevant.
After a few group sessions, it is common to see “group cohesion” where all the group members connect to some extent and are ready to learn from each other. They trust each other, are able to disagree and still keep connection, and they encourage each other to move forward in life and recovery.
This “work” phase of group work allows a person to grow and learn at a faster pace due to the trusting and supportive environment. Open groups permit new people to join anytime, while others may have been in the group for weeks or months. This type of group can help bring about cohesion and trust quickly because as new members show lack of trust and push back, the group members who have been there longer can bring them in and help them see that the group can be trusted. They share stories, relate to the new member, and remember when they were new. This personal experience often helps new people feel a part of the group quickly.
Groups often turn into places to model relationship skills and build healthy connections. The group members become close and support each other, similar to friends and family, though they know the time together may come to an end. At Genesis, we have a strong community and many of the graduates do continue to stay in contact and support one another. Individuals have formed great friendships and mentorship relationships in the group sessions at Genesis and if people do not stay in contact, they have hope in the future to build and keep similar healthy relationships.