Hearing that group therapy is involved in a recovery program can leave some people wanting to run for the hills. Being a part of any group (especially post-pandemic) can be anxiety-provoking, and you may feel like you’ll get less out of it than individual sessions. But there is a reason our primary form of treatment is group therapy here at SagePoint IOP. We believe in the power of group therapy, and in our blog today, we invite you to learn why.
Read on to learn how group therapy is essential in helping you reach your recovery goals.
Why Group Therapy?
Addictive behaviors are fueled by isolation. In individuals living with substance use disorders, patterns of avoidance and secretiveness often emerge to hide addictive behaviors from others. While this may allow them to maintain their use, it creates a divide between the person misusing substances and everyone else in their life. Shame in these instances about not being completely truthful or a feeling like you are the only person experiencing this, can wreak havoc on your self-esteem and wellbeing. Therefore, it is vital in treatment to counteract this isolation.
Directly combating isolation and shame, group therapy offers an opportunity to develop a sense of community and connection in a treatment program. This is simply something that cannot exist solely in individual treatment. In this space, someone with an addiction can learn how to seek support and feel less alone. In a group, you can share the truth that you’re ashamed of and see only understanding and encouragement in the other member’s eyes. Beyond that intangible sense of surrounding yourself with others who get it, members can learn from each other's journeys, provide feedback and encouragement, and develop a structure to aid in recovery.
11 Reasons Why Group Therapy Works
A psychiatrist by the name of Irvin Yalom collected information from people who have participated in group therapy to learn what helped create change and healing. He came up with 11 key therapeutic principles to better understand the power of group therapy.
Instillation of Hope
Some people enter treatment with little hope for a future without substances. Watching other members of the group make changes can help foster a belief that they can also make changes. A group can also point out when members are building steps towards change and encourage that development.
Addiction can be quite lonely, and people can believe that they are the only person having these experiences. In groups, people learn that they are not alone and that there are common traits and themes among other people with addiction. The human experience of pain and suffering is universal
IOP groups often provide education on addiction and recovery, including the brain science underlying this disorder. In these settings, a person can process the information in the group and hear from other members ways they have implemented the learning. This can help someone in treatment learn exponentially more than individual therapy.
Groups provide the opportunity to help support one another. In active addiction, it can be easy to create the belief “I don’t do anything good.” The experience of being supportive or encouraging to other group members directly goes against this belief and can help increase self-esteem.
Corrective Experiences in Primary Relationships
A group is very much like a family since many personalities are present. Group members can process their family systems within the group and help understand and break old dysfunctional patterns. This can feel more doable with the safety of the therapist and not in the actual family.
Development of Socializing Techniques
Being around other people gives more opportunities to practice new social skills, which are often compromised as the result of active addiction. Group members can learn ways to ask for help and get feedback on how their interactions impact other group members. It is helpful to know that others are also learning new ways to communicate sober.
People learn best by being able to see new behaviors modeled for them. Group therapy allows other members to witness different ways people handle difficult emotions of confrontation. As the group grows together, each member is able to view changing behaviors to support recovery.
People who have been using substances to self-medicate and as a replacement for intimate relationships can often have difficulties understanding how genuine relationships work. A treatment group provides the space to address relational challenges in the here-and-now with the support of a therapist. You can then directly translate this learning into reality.
Being a part of a group working together to grow helps create a sense of belonging. This brings importance to the group and helps people feel more comfortable sharing difficult things and fostering a sense of closeness.
When there is group cohesion, there is more of an opportunity for members to freely share their emotions that they may have bottled up. Releasing this emotional expression can help a group member experience insights into changes they can make in their lives. This may inspire others in the group as well.
Substance use disorders and addictions can bring up many existential concerns, such as anxiety about death or processing the larger meaning of life and our purpose. Being in a group can help members understand the responsibility they have in their own lives and give space to process these big issues.
SagePoint IOP understands the power that exists within group therapy. We are passionate about creating group experiences that help increase knowledge about recovery and foster a sense of connection among group members in a warm and welcoming environment. If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder or addiction, please reach out today to learn more about our services.