If you are struggling with addiction, it is possible that you have withdrawn from friends and family and become totally consumed by your dependence on substances. This can be an incredibly lonely experience, with feelings of shame, guilt and isolation only propelling you more towards drugs and alcohol. Group therapy gives you the opportunity to find connection and support with others who are facing similar battles. It provides a safe space for you to heal alongside a group of understanding peers.
What can I expect in a group therapy session?
In a group therapy session, the conversation will be facilitated by a trained therapist – they will guide the discussion and provide structure to the conversation. The therapist may implement various techniques, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT), 12 step therapy or mindfulness-based therapy, as part of your group therapy session.
A former client, Ellen, describes a typical group therapy session, saying:
“I loved the group therapy – it’s about trust. I felt very secure. You have to talk in the beginning of the process meeting. You have to say your name, what you are (alcoholic/drug addict/porn addict, etc.) and two feelings that you have at that time. It gives you a voice and the therapist remembers the two feelings. If you have the same two feelings by the third meeting, they will ask you about it and get you to open up. They will use the feelings to ask you questions, and before you know it you are speaking. Then they will move onto someone else and then back to you to see if you relate and before you know it, you’re responding and you’re in group therapy. It’s very clever.”
Group therapy is usually conducted in an informal, relaxed setting that promotes open dialogue. You can expect to sit alongside people at all stages of recovery, ranging from first-timers, those who have relapsed and veteran group therapy members. This offers multiple unique perspectives, giving you the opportunity to listen and learn from other peoples experiences.
The benefits of group therapy
Group therapy is a proven and effective tool used extensively for the treatment of substance use disorders. Not only does it contribute to successful outcomes in rehab, but it can also help you to maintain abstinence and avoid relapse when you return home.
Some key benefits that group therapy offers include:
- Combats feelings synonymous with addiction, including shame, loneliness, anxiety and depression
- Enables group members to witness the success of others which boosts motivation
- Provides a sense of accountability and responsibility for your actions
- Offers support and encouragement on the bad days, and celebrates your successes on the good days
- Improves communication skills and helps you to break the pattern of suppressing your emotions
- Promotes empathy, compassion and kindness for others, as well as yourself
- Allows you to give and receive help from others
- Gives you the opportunity to form strong, often life-long bonds with your peers
Group therapy is an invaluable treatment modality that allows you to utilise the power of social connections, foster meaningful relationships and stay on track during your recovery.
Common fears about group therapy
It is normal to experience fear or anxiety when attending group therapy, especially if it is your first time in therapy or you are not used to expressing your emotions. Some common worries include:
- Fear of judgement: You may be worried that others in the group will judge you or think less of you because of your addiction. It’s important to remember that everyone in the group is there to support one another, and the therapist will ensure that the environment is safe and non-judgmental.
- Fear of vulnerability: Sharing personal experiences and emotions can be difficult, especially in a group setting. You may feel hesitant to open up or share your struggles with others. However, group therapy can be a powerful tool for healing, and the support of others can help to reduce feelings of shame and isolation.
- Fear of confidentiality breaches: Confidentiality is a crucial aspect of group therapy, but you may still have concerns about your personal stories being shared outside of the group. It’s important to know that therapists are legally bound to protect your confidentiality, and other group members will all be sharing personal experiences with the expectation that this will not leave the group setting.
- Fear of not fitting in: You may be worried that you won’t connect with others in the group or feel like you belong. However, group therapy is an inclusive environment where people from all backgrounds and experiences come together to support one another. Over time, honesty and openness will alway lead to extremely meaningful relationships.
Group therapy may feel daunting at first, but don’t let these concerns hold you back from seeking the support you deserve. Remember that group therapy is a collaborative effort where everyone is working towards the common goal of overcoming addiction. You are not alone in your struggles, and the support of others who understand what you’re going through can be a powerful motivator for change.
Will group therapy work for me?
Group therapy can be a highly effective tool in addiction recovery, but that is not to say it will work for everyone. If you are unwilling to actively participate in the sessions or not ready to open up to others about your emotions, group therapy is unlikely to be effective. Your success depends on your commitment to the treatment process, so entering group therapy with an open mind and engaging with the group is essential.
If you would like to learn more about group therapy, rehab treatment and what Recovery Lighthouse can offer you, contact our admissions team and get started on your recovery.