Why group therapy is so beneficial for overcoming addictions

Why group therapy is so beneficial for overcoming addictions

We offer both group and individual therapy at our private rehabilitation centre and often combine the two for best results. In this article, we wanted to explain what you can expect from group therapy, inside and outside of a rehabilitation centre, the benefits of group therapy and how and why to combine with 1-2-1 support.

What is group therapy?

As the name suggests, it is a therapy session in a group environment, led by a psychologist. Many group therapy sessions focus on a particular issue, such as substance abuse, whereas others will be more general.

During the sessions, the group leader will introduce certain topics or issues and welcome experiences and ideas from the group. The professional will offer advice and practical solutions and the group will share thoughts or concerns, or how things have worked for them.

Sharing together makes participants feel less alone and isolated and offers many possible coping strategies and solutions from different perspectives, which is very valuable.

How can it help?

There are many benefits about sharing your problems and hearing solutions from various people, as well as a trained professional. According to the American Psychological Association, attendees of group therapy are almost always surprised by how rewarding the experience can be.

Benefits include –

  • Creating a support network of people who understand you and are going through a similar issue and can hold you accountable outside of the sessions
  • Having a safe space to share your issues and have multiple views on that problem and different ideas on how to address them
  • Talking and listening to others on a regular basis offers perspective on your own issues and makes you feel less alone
  • Participating in group therapy offers clients the opportunity to develop multiple relationships and to explore the role self-assigned to them. Each person in life takes on a ‘role’ when within a group and this can be a useful piece of information to have when a client leaves treatment. 
  • Being able to disclose problems and show vulnerability in a safe space helps clients to learn how to communicate with others and express what we think and feel in a clear and concise manner. This is vital to those who are working a programme such as the twelve steps, or continued therapy.

Group therapy and addiction

In a context of addiction treatment, group therapy allows members to see recovery in action, have positive role models and enter into a culture of recovery. According to the book Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy, it can sometimes be more successful than individual therapy because it also helps to treat problems which commonly accompany substance abuse, such as depression, isolation and shame.  

The book explains, “Group therapy and addiction treatment are natural allies. One reason is that people who abuse substances often are more likely to remain abstinent and committed to recovery when treatment is provided in groups, apparently because of rewarding and therapeutic forces such as affiliation, confrontation, support, gratification, and identification. This capacity of group therapy to bond patients to treatment is an important asset because the greater the amount, quality, and duration of treatment, the better the client’s prognosis”.

As part of our luxury addiction treatment programme, a recent group of clients found their therapy particularly beneficial for accountability and felt that having their peers question and explore issues, was really powerful. At the end of their stay, not only had they dealt with many of the underlying issues of their addiction, but they also had a support network which has really helped them to bridge the difficult stage between leaving rehab and settling into recovery in the outside world. 

As one of our clients explained, “‘I came to The Bridge, not knowing what to expect. I had heard about rehab and I was very nervous about what it would be like. I honestly can say it was a really positive experience for me. It was a lot of work; I had five 1-2-1 therapy sessions per week, daily groups, plus interactive workshops.

The group therapy was really powerful for me and I learned a lot about myself and made connections with people that I am still in touch with, and we support each other daily.” – SA

How does group therapy differ to one-to-one therapy?

One-to-one therapy gives the client the opportunity to build and develop a trusting non-judgemental relationship with another human being. This is something that many people do not have in their lives and something which is hugely beneficial when they are vulnerable and trying to find answers.

With this relationship and the skills of the practitioner, clients can take risks and share some of the things they may or may not have been aware were impacting them emotionally. 

Guided by the practitioner, clients can develop and learn new skills and ways in which to cope, within a safe and personalised therapeutic setting.

How can it be combined?

We find that at the start of the recovery journey clients are very vulnerable and nervous. They will often have been isolated from others and be poor communicators – especially without the crutch of drugs or alcohol. This makes group therapy intimidating and they can be very reluctant to join in and share.

Beginning with one-to-one therapy and working on your particular challenges and demons, while getting stronger physically and emotionally in a residential rehabilitation centre, can prepare clients to take the step to group therapy and really benefit from it. 

Issues that come up during group therapy can also be explored in one-to-one therapy sessions. Problems or personal experiences that clients don’t feel comfortable discussing with the group can be shared in private with your therapist, to continue working on the root causes of your addiction and feel safe sharing with a professional before expressing to the group at a later date.

Group therapy is also an excellent tool for clients after they leave rehab to keep them on the straight and narrow and combine with AA meetings for example. One-to-one therapy can be used occasionally over a particularly difficult period, but group meetings can keep you on track and be used long term for continued growth and personal development and improved chances of sticking with recovery and avoiding relapse.

You can find out more about our private rehabilitation centre by browsing our website. All our addiction treatment programs are bespoke, so we will combine the treatment methods to best suit you and your needs.

Contact us if you have any questions, or you would like to get help with addiction for yourself or your loved one.