What is Group Therapy?
Group therapy is a commonly employed and highly successful type of psychotherapy, geared towards helping individuals relate to one another and work through issues in a group setting. One therapist will work with multiple individuals at the same time, and will facilitate open discussions while addressing unique problems. Group therapy sessions are always an integral part of inpatient addiction treatment. This specific therapeutic modality allows for the men and women who are in addiction treatment to openly discuss situations that are unique to addiction and to recovery, and offer one another support and insight. Those who are struggling with active addiction will inevitably struggle with social skills and will lack the ability to effectively communicate. Group therapy helps with socialization and communication, and helps clients learn to calmly and effectively express their frustrations or concerns in a safe and supportive setting. Listening to other men or women who are undergoing similar experiences will also help build a solid sense of self-awareness.
Addiction Counseling in a Group Setting
Addiction is a harshly isolating disease. Those who experience active addiction will likely lose friends, push their loved ones away and spend the majority of their time alone. One of the many benefits of group therapy is the reintroduction to meaningful human interaction. Group therapy sessions work to remind clients that they are not alone – that there are many other like-minded individuals who have been through similar experiences. In addiction treatment, it is important to receive support and learn that it is also possible to offer support. Group therapy allows clients the opportunity to offer support to one another. Not only does this help to build self-esteem, but it helps pave the road for success in 12 step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous. One of the fundamental components of the 12 step method is providing support to other alcoholics or addicts. Seeking, receiving and offering support will help clients bond, and develop healthy and functional relationships that will last for years to come.
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The Benefits of Group Therapy
There are many different types of group therapy. When it comes to addiction treatment, group therapy sessions will be gender-specific and facilitated by a licensed therapist and addiction specialist. Some group therapy sessions can be as small as three or four participants, though at Immersion Recovery Center, our group therapy sessions will usually have between eight and 10 participants. Our group therapy sessions will focus on positive interactions and self-realization, and will include a combination of therapeutic modalities. We utilize Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectic Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Experiential Therapy and many more proven methodologies. There are many benefits of group therapy, including:
- Group therapy helps individuals recognize that they are not alone in their struggles. Being able to actively relate to others will help alleviate feelings of guilt and shame.
- Group therapy allows participants to find their own unique voice. Participants will learn to speak up and ask for help when they need it, and provide advice when they feel as if they have something positive to contribute.
- Group members will learn to support one another, which will ultimately lead to the development of healthy communication skills.
- The group will serve as a safety net. The relationships that are formed in group therapy will very often last long after the sessions come to an end.
- Group therapy will help men and women who have struggled with substance abuse and dependency relate to one another in more healthy and productive ways.
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The Principles of Our Group Therapy
Irvin D. Yalom, American psychiatrist and “founding father” of group therapy, wrote a book entitled The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy – a text geared towards training therapists. In the book he outlines several crucial principles that should always be involved in group therapy.
Some of these principles are as follows:
- To instill hope in its participants – Hope is extremely important to long-term recovery – group therapy participants begin to understand that recovery truly is possible.
- Universality – Group therapy participants learn that they are not alone in their struggles, and that addiction is truly a universal and non-discriminatory disease.
- Hope – The development of altruism, and the building of self-esteem based on openly sharing strengths and positive experiences.
- Information sharing – Those who participate in group therapy sessions will be able to share the things they have learned with like-minded individuals.
- Exploring the family dynamic – In many ways, group therapy sessions resembles a family unit. Over time, participants will grow more and more comfortable with one another, and learn to interact in healthy and non-dysfunctional ways. Actual family dynamics will also be explored. Within the group, individuals will touch on childhood experiences and the relation of these experiences to current patterns of behavior.
- Socialization – Addiction is a very isolating disease, and group therapy will help instill the ability to develop and maintain healthy social relationships and interact with others in appropriate and beneficial ways.
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- Healthy imitative behavior – If one individual within the group experiences success, the other members of the group will imitate his or her behavior in a healthy and productive way. They may also subconsciously begin imitating the behavior of the therapist who is facilitating the group.
- Cohesiveness – Because all members of the therapeutic group are working towards the same common goal, they develop a sense of belonging and a sense of community which greatly benefits them in long-term recovery.
- The ability to learn on an interpersonal basis – Interacting with others on a daily basis, offering support and receiving feedback helps to build self-understanding and self-compassion.
- Speaking openly will lead to a sense of catharsis – Sharing past experiences, exploring previously unresolved traumatic experiences and working through difficult emotions in a group setting facilitates feelings or relief and help to eliminate lingering feelings of guilt and shame.
- Personal growth and personal responsibility – Working through issues in a group setting helps participants realize that they are responsible for their own actions, and that they will be responsible for their own recovery moving forward.
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Immersion Recovery Center Group Therapy
At Immersion Recovery Center, group therapy sessions are one of the integral components of our comprehensive program of addiction recovery. Our counseling services are gender-specific and facilitated by licensed and extensively experienced therapists. Our group therapy sessions address a wide range of addiction-related issues, such as withdrawal (post-acute withdrawal, more specifically), common co-occurring disorders like depression and anxiety, relapse prevention skills, life skills and the development of healthy and functional relationships. Our group therapy sessions are traditional, with chairs arranged in a circle so that all participants can see one another. Groups are closed, meaning that the same participants meet up regularly and no one is added to the group once sessions begin (unless a new resident is admitted into our treatment program). Generally, group members share their personal experiences, and the discussion is facilitated by one of our professional therapists. Usually, the discussion focuses on one specific topic that is recovery-related, and the therapist makes sure that communication is effective and that participants respect one another.
If you or someone you love has been suffering from addiction and needs help in order to quit, we are available to help 24/7. Our treatment program utilizes a carefully developed combination of proven therapeutic modalities and holistic treatment methods. Group therapy is a crucial component of every successful inpatient treatment program and we are happy to explain the benefits of group therapy more in depth as soon as you reach out.