Group Therapy for Addiction
Not every method of combating a substance use disorder will work for every person. You’ve probably heard it said before that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to treatment; this is true. Unique individuals have unique needs. For some, in regards to therapy, a more private, relaxing, and attention-giving approach is the answer. For others, it’s having a group around them to validate their experiences and encourage them.
What is Group Therapy?
Group therapy is a method of treatment in which those who participate attend counseling sessions in a group setting. This form of care allows people to share their past experiences and work on improvement together. Not only that, but this space also allows for encouragement and critical thinking.
Group therapy is always moderated by a professional, whether it be a therapist, psychiatrist, or counselor. Typically, in these sessions, the method is Socratic. This is done so that everybody can give proper attention to those who are speaking, encouraging, or sharing.
What is Group Therapy Like in Addiction Treatment?
In the arena of addiction treatment, group therapy looks mostly the same as it does in any other circle. In this realm of care, those who share will usually talk a great deal about their history with drugs or alcohol. In these situations, there’s more light shed on their past experiences, and how they’ve influenced their decisions to cope.
Each session’s structure depends on the overall strategy of the mediator. However, a few components remain throughout each session. For example, progress will almost always be discussed in the group.
Sometimes in these sessions, topics may be planned by the mediator. This, however, is not always the case. In other cases, it’s an open-ended conversation the whole session, each person taking turns to speak. This allows for people to say whatever is on their minds, allowing for a wider range of conversations to take place.
How Does Therapy Help?
Some ways that group therapy helps those with substance use disorder include the following:
- Gives a support system for recovery
- Helps build friendships
- Helps develop communication skills
- Allows for constructive feedback
- Encourages others to learn new skills and coping techniques
- Gives therapists context for their patients
There are many ways in which group therapy sets up patients for success. Those who suffer from an addiction most often need support from those around them who are battling the same circumstance. Addiction has a way of shattering a broken spirit. At North Jersey Rehabs, mending the broken pieces of a person’s heart is one of our top priorities.
Why is a Support System in Recovery Important?
Having a support system is crucial in recovery because treatment can sometimes feel isolating. Feeling alone breaks a person’s spirit to the point where they may return to old habits to cope with their emotions. For those who suffer from addiction, it is common to feel isolated, depressed, shameful, or anxious; like nobody else understands.
In most cases, addiction is the result of abuse, whether it be physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual. This could have been one time or could have taken place over a matter of years (maybe even decades). Either way, healing from abuse is a very difficult task. It can feel isolating, and when a person feels alone and vulnerable, it’s much more enticing to cope with substance abuse. This is why the support system found in group therapy is paramount. Those who participate find that they share similar experiences and that they are not alone.
Is Connecting With Others Important in Recovery?
Connecting with others in recovery is imperative because substance use disorder has a way of isolating people; the more people connect in treatment, the more support and encouragement they have to keep going. This is one of the most important aspects of rehab.
Substance use disorder can often result in other conditions or worsen them if they already exist. These conditions may include anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or others. These conditions are more intense when a person feels alone, unloved, or unsupported. Connecting with people in recovery will help give a sense of purpose in a person’s most difficult moments.
Not only that, but the connective aspect of recovery helps people feel a sense of comradery and loyalty. Something about being a part of a group makes you feel like you’re on a team. Those who feel this way think a lot more about how their decisions influence others. Because of this, a person may wind up taking the process more seriously. The relationships then become more symbiotic; what one person does influences the body of the group. This goes a long way in helping people develop integrity and self-control.
Why is Communication Important in Recovery?
If a person doesn’t know how to communicate correctly, somewhere down the line wires will get crossed; as a result, things will get messy. When it comes to communication, most people think more than they should of themselves. In other words, not everybody is a great communicator.
Many people suffer from poor communication, and that is okay. Everybody on this planet is a work in progress. However, that should be no excuse to not try and communicate better with others. This has to do with both listening and understanding others and communicating to others in a way that they understand as well.
When a person doesn’t communicate well, it impacts every area of their life. This is where group therapy can help. This form of therapy does a great job of improving a person’s communication skills. How, you may ask? Those who participate in group therapy are obligated to listen, understand, and participate, thus putting good communication into practice.
Understanding and listening to others is one of the most important and courteous things a person can do. The great thing about group settings is that the pressure isn’t all on you to understand. There are other people there to help interpret a person’s perspective and emotions. So long as you seek to understand and put in the effort, it will help you listen more effectively and empathize more. This will help you become a better communicator in every way possible, thus minimizing the potential of relapse or other conflicts.
Why is Constructive Feedback Important in Recovery?
Constructive feedback is imperative to the recovery process because honesty helps people grow. When someone gives feedback on how a person is responding or communicating, and does so constructively, it goes a long way. It could mean the difference between a person becoming frustrated with themselves and the other person, or understanding and changing.
Self-awareness is a trait that most individuals don’t have. It’s ironic in a way; shouldn’t a person know themselves better than anybody? Shouldn’t they be able to understand and filter how they communicate with others? Oddly enough, people tend to learn more about and understand themselves more when they are spending time with others. This is why group therapy is so important; it’s an opportunity to understand oneself better.
Constructive feedback is important to any circumstance, not just group therapy in substance abuse recovery. This sort of communication helps people discover what’s wrong and figure out what steps they should take to resolve the issue. All in all, constructive feedback is crucial in rehab.
Learning and Practicing New Skills
Most people are struggling with a substance use disorder because they’ve developed unhealthy coping mechanisms. In recovery, a part of the process is learning new ways to cope that aren’t destructive to a person’s overall well-being. Most of the process of recovery is about learning and developing newer, healthier behaviors.
In some therapeutic circles, identifying destructive thoughts and patterns is paramount. Not only is recognition of these thoughts and patterns important, but efforts to change are just as significant. In real life, it’s often difficult to challenge destructive behavior and develop healthier ways of thinking, but group therapy is a great place for it. This is because it’s what the space is meant for – intentionally working to better oneself and realigning their mindset.
Not only that, but group therapy can also be a safe space to practice these new ways of thinking. After all, you’re already there to work on yourself constructively. Not only that, but those around you are supportive of you, making it easier to transition into a new way of thinking. Another form of therapy that relates directly to this is dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT).
What is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy?
Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is a kind of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) that identifies destructive behaviors and helps develop better ones. This could mean having to deal with unpleasant emotions or past circumstances to understand oneself and how one can do better. Putting these methods into practice is crucial to long-term success in group therapy.
Group Therapy Gives Therapists Context
When it comes to therapy, especially in a group setting, context is pivotal. This is one strength that group therapy has over individual therapy. In individual therapy, the therapist only knows one side of the story and makes educated evaluations based on certain psychological behaviors. How a person interacts with a group could give more context as to what the person has been through. Not only that, but it could come to inform a person’s behavior.
Are You Ready to Take the Next Step?
At North Jersey Rehabs, we know that treatment looks different for everybody. For some, individual therapy may be the best course of action; for others, group therapy is the answer. If you or a loved one would like to find out more, you can contact us here.