Addiction is a complex disorder that resists simple solutions.
Addicted individuals struggle with physical, psychological, behavioral, and emotional challenges – and in order to be most effective, treatment programs must address all of the issues that either led to or were impacted by the addiction. Group therapy can play an important role in accomplishing this objective.
As the term implies, group therapy is a therapeutic experience that involves the simultaneous participation of several clients. Group therapy sessions usually involve one therapist working with a small group of participants, though some arrangements include multiple professionals in addition to multiple clients/participants. There is no firm rule on the number of people who may be involved in a group therapy session, though the American Psychological Association indicates that the optimal configuration involves five to 15 patients. Group therapy sessions traditionally last anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes.
As is the case with individual therapy, the role of group therapy in addiction treatment is to identify and address the emotional and behavioral influences that contributed to the client’s substance abuse problems. Addiction rarely, if ever, occurs in a vacuum. External forces, such as stress and pressure, can contribute to substance abuse and addiction, as can personal matters such as mood disorders, history of trauma and abuse, or self-esteem problems. Group therapy provides a space to explore and discuss these matters and other topics related to addiction and recovery.
Group therapy draws its effectiveness both from the skills of the therapist who is leading the session and from the participants who are sharing their thoughts, insights, and experiences. The following are among the fundamental objectives and principles of group therapy:
- Universality – Helping to alleviate feelings of isolation by emphasizing the commonality of feelings and experiences among group members
- Self-understanding – Gaining insights into one’s own issues by listening to other participants discuss their progress and setbacks
- Interpersonal learning – Being able to learn from the thoughts and experiences of others, while also being able to share one’s own insights and understandings
- Altruism – Experiencing the value of contributing to the betterment of others’ lives
- Hope – Understanding that others have transcended difficulties that one may be currently experiencing
- Information – Learning more about the disease of addiction and the process of recovery
- Imitative behavior – Developing new skills and strategies by observing positive behaviors of the therapist and other group participants
- Cohesiveness – Experiencing a sense of belonging, purpose, and validation through sharing the therapeutic experience with others
- Catharsis – Feeling relief from shame or other emotional pain by publicly discussing one’s struggles
At Indiana Comprehensive Treatment Centers, we appreciate the value of group therapy as part of a comprehensive medication assisted treatment experience. By bringing therapists and clients together in the structured and safe environment of group therapy, we create a productive, collaborative environment in which both struggles and successes can be placed in proper perspective and discussed in a manner that is beneficial to all participants. Group therapy provides the vital information, valuable therapeutic insights, and vibrant support that can significantly enhance a client’s ability to successfully pursue long-term recovery.
No one medication, technique, or therapeutic activity is the key to freedom from the chains of addiction. In an effective medication assisted treatment program, these various elements are combined into a comprehensive approach that has proven to be highly successful in helping addicted individuals end their substance abuse and start living a healthier life. Group therapy is an essential element in such an environment.
If you or your loved one is in need of group therapy and the other elements of a comprehensive medication assisted addiction treatment program, contact us today.