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Group Therapy for Substance Abuse

Group therapy is a type of counseling that is used to help treat addiction and mental health conditions associated with addiction. Group therapy involves several people in a session with a counselor guiding the discussion around addiction recovery topics. Group treatment for substance abuse can help clients heal together and maintain bonds after treatment ends.

Similar to a traditional style of therapy, group sessions will be focused on topics that aid participants in their recovery journey and offer new perspectives on their situations. These sessions are repeated over the course of a treatment program and often continued through aftercare. The Key to Recovery offers group therapy programs to assist clients in their addiction treatment. 

What is Group Counseling?

Group therapy for substance abuse participants thriving

Group counseling is similar to other types of behavior and emotion-based counseling. The difference between group counseling and other styles of therapy lies in that most counseling types are designed to be one on one. Group counseling involves one counselor with multiple clients, which changes the dynamic completely. 

Group counseling sessions will involve a group of people all diagnosed with the same condition, or going through similar experiences. For example, a therapy group can focus on alcoholism. Another group therapy program may focus on depression and anxiety. 

Most people find the support from like-minded individuals helpful in their journey to recovery. It can be both a humbling and empowering situation to be in a room full of people who understand what you are going through. Oftentimes, it takes stepping out of our shoes and putting ourselves in someone else’s to understand our feelings and emotions. Group therapy offers community, healing, and compassion during addiction recovery. 

What are the Benefits of Group Therapy for Substance Abuse?

Participating in group therapy can often be intimidating. The idea of speaking in front of a large group may sound like it would just cause more stress and nervousness. These worries should never stop individuals from seeking group therapy. Clients usually find the experience overwhelmingly positive and in many cases continue participating even after their program has ended. Many people, even those who don’t enjoy speaking in front of big groups, find group counseling to be an exception. 

Speaking about addiction and co-occurring mental health conditions while listening to others who have been through similar situations is eye-opening. Unfortunately, even today there can be a stigma around mental health and addiction. This causes people to feel isolated when dealing with a co-occurring disorder. Being in a room of people who understand you, and accept you, can help you come to terms with your addiction and feel empowered to continue your journey to recovery. 

Group therapy for substance abuse therapist

Another great benefit of group therapy is getting the chance to work on communication. Group therapy sessions present relatively “low pressure” situations. This means you don’t need to feel social pressure to act any certain way. You can talk freely about your experiences and emotions while practicing talking about difficult topics. This can help you feel more confident when it comes time to talk to family, colleagues, or others once you leave treatment. 

Group therapy for addiction opens a space to help others, and let others help you. Some other benefits of group therapy include:

  • Increased sense of community and support
  • Improvement in recovery journey
  • Diversity 
  • Reduced anxiety 
  • Learning new skills from others
  • Improved confidence 

Importance of a Professional Counselor in Group Therapy 

Group therapy may sound similar to just talking with friends or people you already know. Yes,  support from loved ones is very important in an addiction recovery journey, but it doesn’t provide the same benefits as a professional counseling session. 

A trained and licensed therapist has the background and knowledge to guide a conversation in such a way that encourages certain topics to be discussed. They will also be able to guide responses and ensure healthy reflection. Without a professional guiding the sessions, the conversation would become chaotic and potentially unhealthy. If someone makes a point that is not going to have a positive impact on people’s thoughts, the therapist will be able to point out the negative comment and shift the conversation towards a healthy topic. 

Licensed counselors will also be able to bring up relevant topics that have an impact on addiction and mental health. So, while keeping your friends and family close in communication is great, a professional group therapy setting will provide more extensive benefits in your recovery journey. 

What Type of Topics are Discussed in Group Therapy for Substance Abuse?

Group therapy, just like individual therapy, is designed to help people struggling with addiction get to the root of their emotions and drug use. Typically, most sessions start with an open talk concept. This will look like taking turns going around the group and giving people a chance to share any feelings they may have, recent thoughts or breakthroughs, or ask advice.

Once everyone gets the chance to speak, the counselor will likely guide the group across multiple themes centered around healing. They may ask you to consider certain questions, share anecdotes of people who have overcome addiction, and urge you to look at your experience from a new perspective. No two sessions will look the same, but you can be sure each one will provide a beneficial discussion that will aid your recovery. 

Some topics you can expect to discuss during group therapy include:

  • Family trauma
  • Substance abuse history 
  • Mental health conditions
  • Positive vs. negative habits
  • Substance use triggers
  • Personal heroes or idols
  • Self-care

What Type of Group Therapy for Substance Abuse is Best for You?

There are a lot of different things to take into consideration when choosing a group therapy session. Some of these include:

Open vs. Closed Group Therapy

Open group therapy is when anyone can join in the group, regardless of whether they were there when it started. Closed group therapy is when the group starts with specific people, and once sessions begin, no other people may join. Open therapy is best for people who don’t want as much of a commitment or want to experience more people in their group. 

Big vs. Small Group Therapy 

Group therapy is offered in different sizes. There is no right or wrong size, it just comes down to preference. Some individuals feel more comfortable with smaller groups of people. Other times, a larger group may bring a better sense of community. Whichever you prefer, there is a group therapy size just right for you. 

Types of People in the Group 

How alike people are in your group may play a big factor in how much you get out of your group therapy for substance abuse. Some groups are organized in broad terms, with topics such as “group therapy for grief”. This would encompass all different kinds of grief and people. When it’s more specific like, “group therapy for opiate addiction”, you are more likely to connect better with the members. Typically, the more specific and like-minded the groups, the more beneficial. 

Group Therapy for Substance Abuse in Southern California

The Key to Recovery offers a variety of therapy styles to meet all the individual needs of our clients. Our one-on-one therapy sessions offer immense benefits. That said, group treatment for substance abuse can provide additional resources and tools for your addiction recovery treatment program. 

Our counselors always guide group sessions into positive and encouraging conversations. Participating in our group therapy for substance abuse while at our recovery center and after can help you feel confident in lasting sobriety. For more information on our group therapy program, contact us today!