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Group Therapy for Addiction

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Many people new to recovery can be wary of group therapy for addiction. This is understandable as speaking about personal problems and volatile emotions among a group of strangers can be intimidating.

It doesn’t need to be that way, though. Indeed, many of those reluctant to open up in group therapy at first soon find group counseling for addiction is a rewarding and therapeutic experience.

 

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Group therapy allows treatment providers to streamline delivery of therapy and lets those in recovery get more hours of treatment at a lower cost, but there are many further benefits to counseling and therapy in a group setting. 

What is Group Therapy for Addiction?

Group therapy sessions can be effective in many levels of care and therapeutic settings, including: 

  • Hospital-based inpatient treatment
  • Residential rehab
  • Outpatient rehab
  • Virtual rehab

According to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), group therapy can be as effective as individual therapy for those committed to ending substance use and engaging with recovery. 

Unlike family therapy, members in group therapy sessions do not typically have a pre-existing relationship. Many groups will request that members do not spend time together outside of the group for the duration of the program. 

A trained therapist conducts group therapy sessions for addiction. In peer support group sessions, by contrast, there is no experienced leader guiding sessions. 

Group size will vary from 16 to 24 people who will meet with the same therapist to promote trust within the group. 

The number of group therapy sessions you need will also vary according to your requirements and the severity of your addiction. Most group therapy programs run for anywhere from 30 days in residential rehab to six months or more in an outpatient setting. 

The format of sessions is also fluid, varying between therapists and the type of group therapy – see below for a breakdown of the most common types of group counseling. 

Are There Different Types of Group Therapy?

These are the four most common models used for group therapy sessions for the treatment of addiction and mental health disorders: 

  1. CBT groups
  2. Skill development groups
  3. Psychoeducational groups
  4. Interpersonal process groups

1) CBT groups

CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) is a form of psychotherapy proven effective for treating both addiction and mental health disorders. 

In group CBT sessions for substance abuse, you will be guided to accomplish behavioral change by: 

  • Identifying problematic behaviors and distorted beliefs.
  • Learning and implementing new patterns of thinking and behaving.
  • Exploring relapse prevention strategies.

2) Skill development groups

Skill development group sessions for drug addiction and alcoholism involve group members interacting with each other. A group leader will direct sessions with topics including: 

  • Identifying and improving responses to anger.
  • Managing personal triggers for substance use.
  • Strengthening parenting skills.
  • Improving communication skills.
  • Becoming more financially responsible.

3) Psychoeducational groups

The core focus of psychoeducational groups is imparting information and education on all aspects of substance abuse and mental health issues, as well as the consequences of those behaviors. 

Through psychoeducational group therapy, you can learn about the impact of substance abuse and how to thrive rather than simply survive in your new sobriety. 

4) Interpersonal process groups

Interpersonal process group sessions focus on the following: 

  • How group members are feeling.
  • How group members are functioning within the group.
  • How group members are interacting with one another.
  • Overall group performance.

The primary focus of these groups is on how childhood issues and emotional development can lead to impaired decision making and unhealthy coping mechanisms. The content of sessions is less important to the group leader than the behaviors and interactions of the group members. 

Group sizes tend to be slightly smaller for this type of group therapy. 

What Are the Main Benefits of Group Therapy for Addiction?

Although group therapy may lack the personalized laser focus of individual therapy, you can expect to achieve the following benefits: 

  1. Group therapy provides a safe and secure environment: As you consistently meet with the same group of people, you will become more confident and more self-assured. You can discuss any roadblocks on your recovery journey, as well as any challenges and triggers. Group members can offer a powerful sense of support as you move into ongoing recovery. Developing a robust sober support network is a critical part of sustained recovery without relapse.
  2. You get the chance to give and receive support: In addition to receiving support when you need it, you can also share your coping strategies and viewpoints with other group members. This can boost your self-confidence and foster a sense of camaraderie within the group.
  3. Group sessions help you to strengthen your communication skills: By actively listening and participating in group therapy sessions, you will improve your communication skills. This can help in all other areas of your life as you repair relationships damaged by the consequences of your substance abuse.
  4. Peer support reinforces the fact you are not alone in your recovery: Many of those grappling with addiction feel intensely isolated, lonely, and misunderstood. By interacting with peers in recovery, you will be reassured that you are not going through this alone.
  5. Group counseling sessions expose you to a broad range of feedback: In one-to-one therapy sessions, you will only receive feedback from your therapist. In group sessions, on the other hand, you’ll get additional feedback from multiple peers.
  6. You can implement new skills in group sessions: Group sessions offer the ideal setting in which you can implement the coping skills and strategies you are learning in your recovery.

The Key Differences between Group Therapy and Individual Therapy

Group therapy and individual therapy can both be highly effective for the treatment of addiction and mental health disorders. 

While you will be engaging in similar forms of therapy, there are nevertheless some key differences between group sessions and one-to-one sessions: 

  • Personal attention: Those who require personalized attention in therapy may find that group sessions are not focused enough in that direction.
  • Confidentiality: Although confidentiality is typically a requirement of group therapy sessions, there is no guarantee.
  • Pacing: Some people in recovery find the pace of group sessions does not mesh with their needs.
  • Personality type: Introverted individuals may find group therapy sessions are challenging, while those who are more extroverted may welcome the opportunity to interact with others in recovery.

Support Groups vs Group Therapy

For many people in recovery, peer support groups like AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), NA (Narcotics Anonymous), or SMART Recovery are a valuable component of ongoing recovery. 

These peer support groups may be beneficial for some, but they are not the same as group therapy. Support group sessions are not guided by trained professionals, but rather by group members. 

For immediate assistance and group counseling for drug addiction or alcoholism, shortcut the process and consider California Detox.

Group Counseling and Addiction Treatment at California Detox

All of our treatment programs at California Detox offer access to group counseling for drug addiction or alcoholism as a core component of programming. We also have an array of treatment programs for mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Again, group counseling will play a central role in treatment. 

Choose the type of program that best fits the severity of your addiction and your personal circumstances. We provide therapy at all levels of intensity on American Society of Addiction Medicine’s continuum of care as follows: 

  • Medical detox
  • OPs (outpatient programs)
  • PHPs (partial hospitalization programs)
  • IOPs (intensive outpatient programs)
  • Inpatient programs (residential rehab)

Whether you have a mild marijuana use disorder or a severe opioid use disorder, you can engage with the most appropriate treatment for your needs. The California Detox treatment team consists of credentialed and experienced medical professionals and addiction specialists. They will create a personalized treatment plan for you drawing from these interventions: 

  • Group therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • MAT (medication-assisted treatment)
  • Psychotherapy (CBT and DBT)
  • Holistic rehab
  • Family therapy

If you are ready to transition from addiction to detox, recovery, and sustained sobriety, reach out to admissions today by calling 949.567.8790.

FAQs

Three of the most popular types of group therapy are: CBT therapy groups, psychoeducational groups, and skill development groups
Engaging with group therapy allows you to share your experiences of addiction with peers in recovery undergoing similar experiences. Benefit from exposure to many viewpoints and get a wide range of feedback from people who understand addiction from a personal perspective. Group sessions provide a safe and welcoming environment in which you can put new skills into practice as you move from active drug addiction into ongoing recovery.

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