According to an article published on the American Psychological Association’s website, group therapy can be a critical component of the addiction recovery process. Group therapy typically involves one or two counselors leading a group of five to fifteen clients through a group counseling session. This may seem intimidating at first, considering you’re supposed to talk about your problems with strangers, but many people are pleasantly surprised with how much they like it and what they get out of it.
Many group therapy sessions are set up to confront a specific issue common to the group members, like substance use disorder (SUD). Other sessions may focus on broader topics like improving social skills and helping individuals deal with anger, loneliness, low self-esteem, and lack of self-awareness. In addiction recovery, you will most likely see a wide variety of topics covered in group therapy sessions.
While group therapy may sound scary or intimidating at first, group therapy can offer many benefits that individual therapy cannot. Groups can act as a support system and a sounding board and can offer other benefits as well.
You Are Not Alone
It‘s common for individuals dealing with mental health and substance abuse issues to feel isolated and ashamed. In many instances, SUD has trauma at its root. When you realize that you aren’t the only one who has experienced trauma and turned to drugs or alcohol to cope with the emotional pain, it can be easier to open up and confront your past.
Others may have behaved in ways they are ashamed of as a result of their SUD, and opening up about these behaviors can help you feel less alone. Whatever the case may be, shame can be isolating, and group therapy allows people to discover that they are not alone in their addiction or past behavior. Knowing that you are not alone can help you move forward with feelings of peace and connectedness.
Seek and Give Support
Giving and receiving support can be extremely difficult for those in recovery. They may not want to feel like a burden, or they may feel ashamed of their previous actions or what they have endured. In addition, feeling heard and giving help can improve your mental outlook.
Because group therapy provides a space to talk about your feelings and receive support, it also teaches the skills necessary to ask for support and provide support to others. These skills are essential to gain during the recovery process, as it is a long and challenging journey that is much easier done with company.
In addition to feeling less alone and learning how to give and receive help, group therapy can help individuals feel more connected to others, and in turn, to themselves. Feeling connected is one of the most important aspects of overcoming SUD. Substance abuse and the effects that come with it are made more intense by feelings of isolation and lack of support. Finding connection during group therapy can give you a greater sense of purpose in your recovery program.
Improve Communication Skills
Stepping outside of your comfort zone during group therapy can be incredibly scary at first, but the more you do it, the easier it will be. Poor communication skills can cause problems in all areas of our lives, including school, work, friendships, romantic relationships, and families. When we have learned to communicate our deepest fears and past traumas, other types of difficult communication become easier as well.
Not only is it easier to communicate your own feelings and needs, but it also becomes easier to listen as you are all engaged together in the process of listening and understanding. If you’ve misunderstood someone, you will realize it as others speak up. Listening and understanding are additional skills you can take from group therapy and carry with you throughout your recovery.
Practice New Skills
A key aspect of addiction treatment is learning new cognitive and behavioral skills through therapy. It can be hard to practice these new skills without group therapy because you need to be with other people in order to practice these skills. Group therapy can give you an opportunity to practice these new skills and experiment with new ways of thinking and interacting.
In addition to practicing these new skills, group therapy allows you to receive feedback on these skills as well. Our self-image is often distorted, and interacting with others is a great way to gain self-awareness. By participating in group therapy, we can gain feedback on how we can act and interact with others differently as we move forward.
Group Therapy as a Part of Recovery
No matter what program you end up in, group therapy will probably be a part of your addiction treatment, teaching you new ways to behave, interact, listen, understand, and explore, which will aid in the treatment process and your lifetime of recovery.
Although it can be intimidating at first, group therapy provides many benefits, especially when it comes to addiction recovery. Group therapy can teach you that you are not alone, make you feel more connected to yourself and others, teach better communication skills, and provide a space for you to practice new cognitive and behavioral skills. Group therapy can also act as a support group throughout and even after your recovery treatment process. If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, please know that you are not alone and that there is help out there. At Bella Monte Recovery Center in Desert Hot Springs, California, we lead our group therapy sessions with love and compassion, giving you the support you need throughout your recovery process. To learn more about what we have to offer, call (800) 974-1938 today.