Though not everyone understands it, group therapy is an excellent method used in addiction recovery. Some people may be uncomfortable talking about their problems in front of strangers. Being in group therapy can be intimidating, but professionally-facilitated group therapy can surprise you. Strangers may become close friends. You may end up liking it and benefiting a lot. Quality group therapy programs are central to many treatment centers.
What Is Group Therapy Like?
Unlike one-on-one therapy sessions, group therapy involves two or more recovering individuals guided by a licensed therapist. Sessions often revolve around a specific recovery topic, such as how to recognize and manage triggers, how to handle challenging family relationships during recovery, and more.
Group therapy is a category of therapeutic practice, not a single approach. For example, group psychotherapy is different from process-oriented group therapy. Psychotherapy teaches you and the rest of the group healthy coping skills, and the therapist provides most of the content. In contrast, process-oriented groups focus on the group experience, and you learn from sharing, listening, and engaging in discussions. 12-Step groups fall in the latter category. In addition to these two, there are also life skills development groups, creative therapy groups, and more.
Benefits of Group Therapy
Unlike individual therapy, group therapy allows you to benefit from interactions with other peers rather than just with a therapist. There is power in learning from peers who are going through similar struggles. Unlike in individual therapy, where you may wonder if the therapist has ever walked in your shoes, peer group learning can become a space for deep bonding where you feel heard, seen, and supported.
Group therapy also provides a space to reflect on reality by listening to others or sharing your experiences. With good facilitation, moments of revelation can help you and other group members gain deep insights into yourselves. When you provide encouragement or support to others, it can be very uplifting for you as well because you are playing a significant role in the lives of others.
What to Expect in a Group Session
Typically group therapy consists of six to twelve participants, led by one or two therapists. Most groups meet for one or two hours each week. Each session may focus on a specific area of concern raised by group members. These meetings can be in community centers, treatment centers, or other public spaces.
Sessions often begin with a self-introduction ritual to ensure everyone is greeted and seen. Next, each participant can give a brief update on their recovery progress. Then the therapists may introduce some planned topics and open them for discussion. There may also be trust-building activities to promote communication and personal growth.
Depending on the type of group, activities and programming may vary. But, overall, you can expect an environment where each member has the common goal of providing and receiving support as the group improves its recovery process.
Continuing Individual Therapy
Committing to group therapy does not mean you must discontinue your regular individual therapy, whether it is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or some other form. On the contrary, individual therapy, especially in early sobriety, is essential in helping you learn new thought processes and work through any mental health challenges you have to help you stay sober. Individual and group therapy serve different, mutually beneficial purposes, and you can certainly commit to both for maximum support.
Make the Most out of Group Therapy
If you hope to engage in group therapy sessions fully, you can consult with your group or individual therapist on specific ways to prepare. However, general advice says to keep attending sessions regularly and open up in communication with peers. You can also keep track of your experiences and questions about recovery during the week and bring them to the session.
When you build friendships with peers through group therapy, reach out and hang out with them outside treatment. Along with this advice, remember that confidentiality is a binding rule within that space whenever you are in the group context. Therefore, carefully navigate your new relationships so that you and others feel safe opening up in group sessions.
Outcomes of Group Therapy
Ideally, attending group therapy should give you a deep sense of belonging with a strong recovery community. This group serves as your accountability and safety net on the recovery journey. You will also give back to the community by supporting and encouraging others.
Group therapy also helps you find your voice again. You may have kept your feelings bottled up for a long time. With time and commitment, you can feel comfortable talking about yourself and your emotions with others. As a result, you can connect with yourself healthier, which provides the foundation for other relationship-building aspects of this journey.
If you desire quick results on the recovery journey, you ought to include a variety of treatment methods, including individual and group therapy. These serve different functions throughout your recovery journey. Laguna Shores Recovery offers a range of group therapies that are evidence-based and founded on scientific research. You can work with experienced health professionals facilitating these group sessions. Group therapy provides more than just socialization. It is a space where you can regain self-identity, communication skills, and emotional regulation. You can also benefit from emotional support and develop meaningful friendships with other group members. Support is available through various support groups; you need to join. For more information, call 866-934-5276.