Why Group Therapy Is a Safe Environment in Which Addicts Can Open Up

clients in a group therapy session

When an individual develops an addiction to alcohol or drugs, he or she experiences a number of profound changes. In particular, individuals who suffer from alcoholism and drug addiction exhibit a dramatic change in their thought patterns and even their personalities, causing them to seem like they’ve suddenly become totally different people. Over the course of active addiction, this often results in a marked increase in risk-taking behavior, damage to important relationships, the loss of one’s financial stability and independence, and numerous other hardships. As such, the recovery process for individuals who have been living in the throes of active addiction takes time, determination, and effort. After an addict has chosen to begin recovery, he or she must enroll in an addiction rehabilitation program and receive a variety of different treatments and therapies, each of which are intended to address certain symptoms or aspects of the disease.

What’s more, while counseling and psychotherapy consist of a major part of the recovery experience, group therapy is a signature feature of most addiction recovery programs for several key reasons. However, for many individuals who have not personally participated in group-oriented therapy sessions, the concept of group therapy can seem confusing or even somewhat contradictory. How can therapy, which is an inherently personal healing process, take place in a group format? The following will define group therapy in a little more detail and explain how it offers individuals a safe, nonjudgmental environment in which they can open up regarding their thoughts, feelings, and experiences with addiction.

What Exactly Is Group Therapy for Substance Abuse?

group therapy session

Many of us associate counseling with individual psychotherapy, there are actually many different types of therapy. Additionally, group therapy is sometimes considered the most important type of therapy that addiction treatment programs offer. By definition, group therapy refers to counseling sessions that take place between one or more therapists and a group of patients. In principle, group therapy is based on the principle that each individual is shaped by his or her experiences in various groups—such as groups of peers or friends, coworkers, families, classmates, and so on—which makes this form of treatment the obvious, natural solution in certain circumstances. In instances in which individuals share common experiences or diagnoses such in addiction treatment, group therapy is often employed as a way for individuals to learn valuable experiences that can help them to alleviate their symptoms, but group therapy has also proven to be beneficial for a variety of other reasons.

A Group of Peers to Share With & Learn From

Some might find it surprising to learn that there are many individuals who would typically not feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, feelings, and experiences relating to their substance abuse, but quickly and willingly open up and share these things with strangers during group therapy sessions. Rather than being an incidental side effect of counseling a group of peers simultaneously, this is actually one of the things that makes group counseling so effective. Especially among addicts who have been reluctant to the recovery process, it has shown to be beneficial for addicts to receive advice or learn about the experiences and perspectives of their peers rather than always hearing this information from professional therapists. Oftentimes the therapists are seen as having no hands-on experience with addiction while information obtained from peers is seen as more valuable because it was gained through firsthand experience.

An Atmosphere of Acceptance & Support

Additionally, addicts tend to have a number of shared experiences as a result of addiction while also suffering from many of the same effects. While in active addiction, it’s common for addicts to lose relationships with spouses or significant others, damage other relationships with friends and family, lose jobs and a variety of other opportunities, and so on. Sharing these experiences and hardships with peers during group therapy helps addicts to relate to one another. Moreover, as individuals listen to the stories of others, they become more and more likely to share themselves as they see that each addict is met with encouragement and support, which attributes to the pervasive atmosphere of understanding, empathy, and acceptance that is unique feature of group counseling and makes individuals more likely to open up.

Free Yourself from the Chains of Addiction with Recovery Hub

There are many different treatments and therapies that individuals receive while in addiction treatment, but group sessions have proven to be one of the most beneficial offerings of addiction treatment programs. As such, most recovery programming incorporates one or more types of group therapy, ensuring that each individual’s specific recovery needs are met. However, if you or someone you love is suffering from alcoholism or drug addiction and would like more information about treatment options, call Recovery Hub at 1-888-220-4352. With a free consultation and assessment from one of our recovery specialists, you can start your journey back to happiness, health, and sobriety.

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