Is Group Therapy Effective for Treating Addiction?

Group therapy is a vital resource for many individuals in addiction recovery. Group therapy is a therapy session led by a professional that includes a small to medium number of participants. These sessions are usually conducted with the same leader and same participants (fixed participant); however, new participants may join (revolving participant).

Is Group Therapy Effective for Treating Addiction?

Group Therapy Versus Support Groups

Group therapy sessions allow individuals to connect with other people going through similar struggles and allow opening up and letting guards down. Many struggles can be isolating and lonely, and group therapy can help.

Some group therapy sessions are focused on one topic, while others may focus on a broad spectrum of topics. Most group therapy sessions are structured in some form, but these structures may look different depending on the type of group therapy session.

While group therapy and support groups are similar, they are not the same. Group therapy is generally conducted by a licensed professional and focuses on educating and helping members change an aspect of their lives.

Support groups are often peer-led (though not always) and focus on support and coping through a struggle over education. Another difference is that support groups can be really large, whereas therapy groups tend to be smaller and more personal. Group therapy is a great option for any individual that is in recovery, in addition to a support group.

Different Types of Group Therapy in Recovery

In recovery, there are different types of group therapy options available. These different types of therapy may look different depending on the therapist or professional leading them, but each therapy type has a designated purpose. Common types of group therapy in recovery include:

  • Interpersonal process groups focus on healing through the psychology behind addiction – They tend to focus on the struggles members have and problem-solving.
  • Cognitive-behavioral/problem-solving groups – CBT focuses on the idea that negative behaviors are learned and reinforced over time. Therefore, these groups focus on past negative behaviors and utilize newly learned tools to redirect and relearn positive behaviors.
  • Skills development groups – Skill development groups focus on learning new skills and tools to succeed in recovery. In addition, they focus on common triggers and learning how to work through these triggers healthily.
  • Psychoeducational groups – Psychoeducational groups focus on learning about addiction, mental health, and all related topics. The purpose of these groups is to educate about the disease of addiction and how to relate the material to an individual’s life.

Each type of group therapy has its benefits. When deciding what type of group therapy may be best for you and your situation, consider where you are struggling and what you are looking to get out of the sessions. If you feel you need encouragement and support alone, a support group may be better than group therapy.

The Benefits of Therapy in a Group

Group therapy has many benefits when it comes to addiction recovery. Studies have shown that group therapy can be more beneficial to an individual in recovery than individualized therapy sessions. Some of the scientifically studied benefits of group therapy according to the NIH include:

  1. Groups provide positive peer support and pressure to abstain from abuse substances. Unlike AA, and, to some degree, substance abuse treatment program participation, group therapy, from the very beginning, elicits a commitment by all the group members to attend and to recognize that failure to attend, to be on time, and to treat group time as special disappoints the group and reduces its effectiveness. Therefore, both peer support and pressure for abstinence are strong.
  2. Groups reduce the sense of isolation that most people who have substance abuse disorders experience. At the same time, groups can enable participants to identify with others struggling with the same issues. Although AA and treatment groups of all types provide these opportunities for sharing, for some people, the more formal and deliberate nature of participation in process group therapy increases their feelings of security and enhances their ability to share openly.
  3. Groups enable people who abuse substances to witness the recovery of others. From this inspiration, people addicted to substances gain hope that they, too, can maintain abstinence. Furthermore, an interpersonal process group, which is of long duration, allows a magnified witnessing of both the changes related to recovery and group members’ intra- and interpersonal changes.
  4. Groups help members learn to cope with their substance abuse and other problems by allowing them to see how others deal with similar problems. Groups can accentuate this process and extend it to include changes in how group members relate to bosses, parents, spouses, siblings, children, and people in general.
  5. Groups can provide useful information to clients who are new to recovery. For example, clients can learn how to avoid certain triggers for use, the importance of abstinence as a priority, and how to self-identify as a person recovering from substance abuse. In addition, group experiences can help deepen these insights. For example, self-identifying as a person recovering from substance abuse can be a complex process that changes significantly during different stages of treatment and recovery and often reveals the set of traits that makes the system of a person’s self altogether unique. (nih.gov)

As you can see, the benefits of group therapy are astounding. These benefits make group therapy a vital asset to addiction recovery. Discovering what you need personally and finding the right support group to fit your needs can help your recovery journey. In addition, having support, learning about addiction, and addressing any issues you face with the new tools and skills you will learn in group therapy will give you the confidence to succeed.

Find Therapy for Your Needs at Evoke Wellness MA

Here at Evoke Wellness MA, we understand individual situations, and we empathize with the need for individualized treatment options. Our team of compassionate, highly trained professionals wholeheartedly believes in the importance of fostering healthy relationships with other members of the recovery community, whether that be peers, counselors, or mentors. We help each of our clients establish a sober support network that will stay by their side for years to come through group therapy sessions and support groups. So don’t wait any longer – call us today and start your recovery journey.

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Our caring treatment team knows that it’s not always easy to ask for help. At Evoke Wellness Massachusetts, many of our staff are in recovery themselves and we undertand what you’re going through. Reach out today and we will guide you to lasting sobriety.

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