Talk therapy is an essential 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 will likely contain some form of group therapy. Support groups are crucial in many people’s aftercare plans even after treatment ends. In this article, we’ll provide some basic information about group therapy and explore its benefits in addiction treatment.
What Is Group Therapy?
A professional counselor leads a typical therapy group; most groups are about five to 15 participants, though group sizes vary.1 Group therapy allows participants to share their experiences and help others set recovery goals. The groups offer a safe, supportive environment where participants can express complex thoughts and feelings and learn from the success of others.
Benefits of Treating Addiction with Group Therapy
Although most addiction treatment programs include individual and group therapy, group sessions offer unique benefits that cannot 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 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.
Uncovering complex feelings: Group therapy often helps participants confront feelings 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; also, 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 several studies are available to demonstrate the effectiveness of this technique. Over 50 clinical trials have been performed comparing patients assigned to individual therapy and those assigned to group therapy. The patients showed the same improvement, proving that group therapy is just as effective as one-on-one therapy.2 Receiving guidance from peers can be even more potent than receiving it from a therapist because it’s often easier to identify with peers.
Sharing information and experiences with a group is integral to the addiction recovery process. Although opening up to a group may be intimidating at first, most people quickly 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 knowing you’re not alone in your journey is helpful.