Having learned a lot about addiction over the past several decades, we currently use a variety of different treatment techniques and therapies to address the many effects of addiction and help addicts regain their sobriety. While the many different treatments used for addiction make rehabilitation a much less straightforward process, this variety is necessary because addiction is an extremely multi-faceted disease that attacks from many directions and affects nearly all aspects of an addicts life. Utilizing comprehensive and diverse treatment modalities is essential in treating the disease of addiction effectively and most importantly, reducing relapse rates. As a cornerstone to all solid treatment programs, group therapy helps strengthen peer accountability and brings the essence of interpersonal relatedness into the big picture of recovery. Maintaining inclusion within a group of like-minded, recovery-focused individuals is one of the hallmark distinctions between clients that chronically relapse and those that remain sober.
Of course, that doesn’t mean there’s not overlap. In fact, despite the variability we seen among addiction treatment curricula, there are certain components that are considered staples of the treatment process, one of which is group therapy. But what, exactly, is group therapy? Why is it used in substance abuse treatment? What makes group therapy important? And what should someone who’s embarking on the recovery process expect from group therapy?
What Exactly is Group Therapy for Addiction?
The prospect of counseling and psychotherapy often inspire very specific images. For most people, the first association involves a scene in which a patient, while lying on a sofa, tells stories of past traumas and emotional hardships to a Freudian psychotherapist who nods pensively and continuously jots notes on a notepad. While certain types of therapy resemble this illustration to an extent, this is far from representative of therapy overall. In reality, there are a wide variety of different psychotherapeutic modalities, which are essentially different types of approaches to treatment and different philosophies on which those approaches are based. However, there’s another characteristic of psychotherapy that allows the various modalities to be broken into one of two categories: individual or group therapy.
As you might have guessed, individual therapy is essentially the one-on-one form of counseling, which is illustrated in the example above. In short, individual therapy is a form of counseling in which a single therapist counsels a single patient, giving the patient a safe, private environment in which to talk openly about sensitive experiences and topics. By comparison, group therapy is a form of psychotherapy that takes place between one or more psychotherapists and a group of patients. Consequently, group therapy is much more social in nature. For this reason, group therapy tends to be more socially-oriented and educational in nature. In other words, the group setting of group therapy invites the exploration of social concepts. But with addiction being such an intimate and profoundly impactful illness, a person might question why this form of therapy has become so strongly associated with substance abuse treatment when it affords so little privacy.
Group Therapy as Substance Abuse Treatment in Florida
When group therapy is used in a rehabilitative setting, it’s because each of the group’s participants (or patients) are suffering from the same affliction; in the case of an addiction treatment program, patients in group therapy are united by their substance abuse problems, which facilitates many of the best features of group therapy. For instance, patients in group therapy sessions can compare their individual experiences with addiction to the experiences of others, helping them to relate to other people and to consider others’ perspectives. This can be extremely valuable in a substance abuse treatment program, especially since an addict’s own circumstances tend to dictate how he or she perceives the recovery process. By considering others’ perspectives, a patient may acquire new ways of looking at substance abuse and, by extension, gain valuable insight into his or her own suffering.
Importance of Group Therapy for Recovery
Over the course of active addiction, individuals experience several types of deterioration. Of course, there’s deterioration of one’s physical health and overall wellness, which is caused by the actual consumption and abuse of dangerous intoxicants. As well, the fact that continuous alcohol and drug consumption result in lasting chemical and structural changes in the brain can result in potentially severe cognitive and behavioral changes. But one of the most often overlooked ways that addicts deteriorate while in active addiction is their interpersonal and relationship-building skills.
For an addict, the majority of his or her interactions with others are motivated by alcohol or drugs in some way, whether it involves acquiring the funds needed for more alcohol or drugs, actually obtaining the alcohol or drugs, or using mind-altering substances with others. As such, addicts often lost some of their interpersonal skills. Unable to socialize without either being under the influence or with alcohol or drugs facilitating the interaction, addicts in recovery need some way of relearning social skills. What would be the best type of therapy for such a function?
Since group therapy is inherently social, it’s an ideal solution for relearning and honing social skills. With the guidance of one or more therapists, patients in group therapy are able to practice relating to others without the interference of alcohol or drugs. Not only is this a time for hands-on social learning, the therapist can even use group therapy sessions for other types of education. For instance, relapse prevention skills and psychoeducation sessions are offered almost exclusively in a group setting, which shows just how vital group-based counseling can be.
What To Expect From Our Florida Group Therapy
If you’re someone who’s about to begin an addiction treatment program and wants to know what to expect from group therapy sessions, here’s what you should know: While individual or one-on-one counseling affords privacy and confidentiality, group therapy is inherently social, so patients aren’t expected to divulge sensitive or personal information. Instead, group therapy should be seen as a type of therapy often used in educational and social exercises, especially involving communication skills and other core concepts.