Why Is Group Therapy Useful for Recovery?

Posted in: Recovery

July 24, 2014

A group of people sitting in a circle

Recovering from an addiction is a complex process. A person will often begin addiction recovery with drug detoxification, then move on to rehabilitation, and then progress to a long-term recovery plan. This process can be intimidating, and many people worry that they will become isolated from their loved ones because of it. Participating in group therapy throughout the recovery process, however, can counteract these feelings of isolation, can improve a person’s overall well-being and can contribute to his plan to stay sober.

Group therapy is a type of therapy that differs from traditional individual therapy, in that the person engages in therapy with a group of other people along with a therapist, instead of just meeting with the therapist one-on-one. It is often used along with individual therapy to help the person work through his addiction-related issues in a group setting.

Benefits and Focuses of Group Therapy

As SAMHSA’s Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy guide states, humans are naturally social, and group therapy is therefore beneficial because it offers:

  • Reduced feelings of isolation
  • Addiction-related assistance from peers
  • Positive support from peers
  • Models of other people involved in the recovery process
  • A safe and family-like environment

This guide also lists five common focuses of group therapy:

  • Skills development: these groups focus on helping their members acquire life skills, such as anger management and coping techniques that will help them maintain abstinence long-term.
  • Education: the group learns about substance abuse, its many negative consequences and ways to avoid it in the future.
  • Support: each member encourages the others to achieve their goals, and the group becomes like a family.
  • Cognitive-behavior modification: these groups teach members ways to modify negative thoughts and actions into healthy and beneficial ones.
  • Interpersonal process: in these groups, each member discusses and seeks help for developmental issues related to his addiction and/or recovery.

Group therapy allows a person to interact with other people in ways that he cannot do in individual therapy. In each of these interactions, the person can learn more about himself and others.

Michael Herkov explains that group therapy is helpful because it provides a person with the following opportunities for growth:

  • Improvement of social skills: interacting with the other people in the group can help the person learn interpersonal skills, such as effective communication and listening, that he can use in his relationships outside of therapy.
  • Increased feedback: the different perspectives of the group can encourage the person to see issues in new ways, which can, in turn, allow him to come up with solutions he might not have thought of before.
  • Examples of acceptable coping behaviors: as the other group members talk about their problems and the ways that they handle them, the person can see examples of healthy ways to deal with unpleasant issues, and can begin modeling these coping behaviors in his personal life.

Is Group Therapy Right for Me?

Addiction recovery has many facets. It is an involved and long-term process that involves commitment from the person going through it. Attending group therapy can provide a person recovering from addiction with the external social support that they need to be successful in their long-term sobriety goals. If you or someone you love has been considering getting help with an addiction but has been too afraid because of fear of isolation, know that the recovery process is filled with caring and supportive people and that many times the most supportive people are peers in group therapy. Call us today at 615-490-9376 to find out more information about how group therapy helps people going through recovery. Our admissions coordinators are available to answer your questions and help you find a treatment program that is right for you.

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