Group Therapy for Addiction Treatment
Alcohol therapy is an important component of any high-quality addiction treatment program, and it’s proven to be a highly effective technique. Whether you opt for inpatient or outpatient treatment, your program is likely to contain some form of group therapy. Even after treatment ends, support groups play a key role in many people’s aftercare plans. In this article, we’ll provide some basic information about group therapy and explore its benefits in addiction treatment.
What Is Group Therapy?
A typical therapy group is led by a professional counselor; most groups are made up of about five to 15 participants, though group sizes vary.1 Group therapy allows participants to share their experiences and help one another set recovery goals. The groups offer a safe, supportive environment where participants can express difficult thoughts and feelings and learn from the success of others.
Benefits of Treating Addiction with Group Therapy
Although most addiction treatment programs include both individual and group therapy, group sessions offer unique benefits that can’t be found in one-on-one therapy. These benefits include:
- Safe environment: It’s not always easy for a person with an addiction to talk about their pain and challenges with people who haven’t had the same experience. The fear of judgment can cause people to hold back their feelings. Group therapy offers a place that’s free of judgment, where everyone can speak freely and feel supported by the other group members.
- Team mentality: When you participate in group therapy, you’re joining a team of like-minded people who all working toward the same thing: recovery. Teammates help and encourage each other throughout their recovery journeys, while the group therapy leader acts as a coach to offer advice, guidance and mentoring along the way.
- Uncovering complex feelings: Group therapy often helps participants confront feelings that they might otherwise try to bury or forget. Working through these emotions is essential for healing and reducing the risk of relapse.
- Inspiration and empowerment: Watching your fellow group members conquer their addiction is a great way to stay motivated; in addition, knowing that others in the group may view you as an inspiration or model is incredibly empowering.
The Power of the Group
Group therapy has been used in addiction treatment for decades, and a number of studies are available to demonstrate the effectiveness of this technique. Over 50 clinical trials have been performed that compare patients who were assigned to individual therapy and those who were assigned to group therapy. The patients showed the same degree of improvement, proving that group therapy is just as effective as one-on-one therapy.2 Receiving guidance from peers can be even more powerful than receiving it from a therapist, because it’s often easier to identify with peers.
Being able to share information and experiences with a group is an important part of the addiction recovery process. Although the thought of opening up to a group may be intimidating at first, most people quickly come to view their groups as a safe, judgment-free zone where they can talk about their challenges and get the support they need. The road to recovery isn’t always easy, and it’s helpful to know you’re not alone in your journey.