Group therapy can be a fantastic tool for people in recovery from substance use disorder (SUD). It allows you to share your experiences and trauma with your peers freely. One of the biggest benefits of group therapy is the understanding of yourself that you can gain from listening to others who may have similar experiences. However, setting boundaries in group therapy is important, as it’s easy to be tempted to overshare.
Why Having Boundaries in Group Therapy Is Important
The ability to set and maintain boundaries for yourself in all situations is a vital life skill. Boundaries help give you a sense of safety and security. They can help you move more directly towards goals instead of straying in your progress.
In group therapy settings, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of oversharing. While your therapy group is a safe space, and you can feel free to share anything you want, sometimes you might share things you don’t want to. I know it sounds funny, but it happens. You might be giving in to social pressure or just saying something accidentally. Whatever the reason, oversharing can lead to feelings of anxiety later on. You might wonder about how what you said was received, if it made people uncomfortable, or if you’re being judged for it. Maybe you wish your peers didn’t know a certain thing about you. Setting internal and external boundaries can help you maintain emotional safety and self-esteem.
Another reason why setting boundaries for yourself in group therapy is important is that you have to consider other people’s boundaries. Certain things are just not appropriate to say in a group setting. Certain topics may be better suited to one-on-one talk therapy where there are fewer people to consider. In individual therapy with a professional, you likely won’t shock your therapist with anything you say. But in a group setting with other patients, they may have triggers or be made uncomfortable by certain topics.
Something else to keep in mind is that group therapy is not the place to be the center of attention. The point of group therapy is to see the commonalities between yourself and other patients and empower yourself by offering support to others. If you find yourself oversharing, there’s a good chance you haven’t given others time to speak. In group therapy, healing is a community effort.
How to Establish Boundaries in Group Therapy
A good first step to establishing boundaries in group therapy is thinking about your goals for therapy. What do you want to get out of each session? Do you want to achieve certain goals in the long run? Based on these goals, consider what you’d like to discuss with the group. If your goal is not to relapse again, maybe talk about why you’re scared of relapsing and your experience with relapse. The things you bring up should be relevant to the progress you want to make.
Next, think about the things that are just out of your comfort zone to discuss. It’s okay not to want to share everything in therapy. Maybe you’ve recently had a messy breakup with a partner, and you’re not ready to talk about it; that’s fine! Therapy is a place for you to feel comfortable and safe.
The final step is practicing your boundaries at the moment. This may mean saying “no,” which can be difficult but is a great skill to build. The group leader or other patients may ask you questions during a session, but that doesn’t mean you have to answer. Before answering, consider if it’s inside of your boundaries. If it’s not, you can politely say, “I don’t really feel comfortable talking about that right now.” Simply practicing saying no is a great way to work on maintaining healthy boundaries.
Setting and maintaining boundaries is something you should talk about with your treatment team at Laguna Shores Recovery Center. They can help you make decisions that are best for you and your recovery.
The Value of Flexible Boundaries
While setting and maintaining boundaries in group therapy is important, you may also want to consider how flexible your boundaries are. As you grow and change throughout your recovery, your boundaries will likely change with you. That topic you always used to avoid may not seem so daunting now, and that’s a good thing! It shows that you’ve made progress. It’s also important to consider expanding your boundaries as you move through therapy, even if it makes you uncomfortable. Change isn’t easy, and it’s rarely comfortable, but it is necessary.
Your Laguna Shores Recovery Center treatment team can be a big help in determining when and how to expand your existing boundaries. You may be worried about going too fast or too slow, but everyone progresses at different speeds. Your treatment team is there to reassure you and ensure you’re on the right track toward sustained wellness.
At Laguna Shores Recovery Center, located just minutes from Laguna Beach in Orange County, California, we believe that sobriety is just the first step in living a life that’s all your own. After detox, there are a lot more obstacles to face. Your recovery may involve group therapy sessions, and your individualized treatment team is there to help you navigate them. Whatever your goals are for recovery, we want to help you meet them. Working together, you can establish and maintain healthy boundaries in therapy and other areas of your life. But getting help starts with you. Don’t let SUD control your life. Call Laguna Shores Recovery Center at (866) 774-1532.