Can Spirituality Aid in SUD Recovery?
November 16, 2021
Why You Need to Discuss Drinking Habits With Your Doctor
November 23, 2021
Show all

Is Group Therapy That Important?

Diverse excited best friends raising hands giving high five together at meeting in cafe, happy multiracial students group promising unity support in good friendly relations hanging in coffee house

Most clinicians would say “yes”. As behavioral science and neuroscience uncover more things about substance use disorder (SUD), rehabs have, over time, readjusted their treatment approaches. But while many trends have come and gone in addiction treatment, group therapy remains one of the few constants in the practice.

SUD patients who have completed initial detox are likely going to need psychotherapy combined with other types of supplemental therapy to help maintain recovery gains. In the vast majority of cases, clinicians will recommend group therapy or workshops alongside individual therapy sessions.

If you’re an introvert, you probably already understand that group therapy is something many people dread or, at least, are ambivalent to. Despite this, group therapy is something most people going through rehab will experience, regardless if it’s done in a residential or outpatient setting.

Below are the main reasons most mental health clinicians will recommend group therapy for individuals recovering from SUD.

1.) Prevents Isolation

Dr. Irvin David Yalom, the professor emeritus at Stanford University and one of the main proponents of group psychotherapy calls this the “principle of universality”. Mental health conditions can be incredibly isolating, as most of the people an affected person interacts with will be unable to relate to or understand what they’re going through.

By grouping people with similar experiences together, individuals recovering from SUD can begin to feel less isolated, form bonds with others, and be more receptive to further therapy.

2.) Allows Patients to See Real-World Successes

People with mental health problems like SUD are likely to be friends with other people who also use drugs or alcohol heavily. Additionally, they probably do not see these other people have much success in addressing their own physical and mental health issues. This can lead to a feeling of hopelessness and resignation that can work against one’s motivation to recover.

By putting these individuals in a group with others that have had similar experiences, yet managed to progress or recover, these feelings of hopelessness could be reduced. Ultimately, this may help improve one’s motivation to complete their recovery.

3.) Helps Maintain Social Skills

The experience of having an SUD and withdrawing from substances is uniquely distressing and invariably misunderstood, which may lead some people to stop socializing. The lack of socialization can serve to worsen one’s mental health and can leave a person without the skills needed to progress personally and professionally, which, in turn, can exacerbate an already bad situation.

Being in the safe space of a group session with others who have experienced the same things can be a great way to rebuild social skills. Additionally, these interactions may be important in instilling the confidence needed to address other challenges in day-to-day life that one would encounter after rehab.

4.) Helps Build Self-awareness and Empathy

We often see ourselves in others, especially when we share some kind of common experience that most other people have not. Seeing others who are like you can be a good way to see things about yourself that you did not notice before. For this reason, group sessions may also be vital for helping recovering individuals get a better sense of empathy.

5.) Makes it Easier to Discuss Sensitive Topics

A lot of people are not necessarily going to be comfortable freely discussing their experiences with substance misuse because of the stigma around it. Correctly, many assume that many other people will not understand or have a negative attitude towards them.

When organized well, group therapy and workshops can allow people recovering from drug or alcohol misuse to have an avenue for articulating what they feel, with much less fear that they will be misunderstood. This ability to articulate experiences can also help the sharer themselves to understand their own situation better.

6.) Expands a Person’s “Therapeutic Alliance”

A therapeutic alliance describes the relationship between the patient, therapist, and other agents involved in their care and recovery. By adding more relationships in a therapeutic alliance, recovering individuals can gain more insights into what may be more or less helpful in their specific case. This may serve to significantly save the time needed to make a full recovery.

Find Group Therapy Sessions in New England

Not all group therapy and workshops sessions are necessarily going to be appropriate for all recovering individuals. Boston Drug Treatment Centers makes it easy to find the ones that will work well for you or an affected family member. Call us at (857) 577-8193 to find group sessions throughout the New England region that will match your current recovery goals.

Resources

  1. Boisvert, R. A., Martin, L. M., Grosek, M., & Clarie, A. J. (2008). Effectiveness of a peer‐support community in addiction recovery: participation as interventionOccupational therapy international15(4), 205-220.
  2. Wendt, D. C., & Gone, J. P. (2018). Complexities with group therapy facilitation in substance use disorder specialty treatment settingsJournal of substance abuse treatment88, 9-17.
  3. Ardito, R. B., & Rabellino, D. (2011). Therapeutic alliance and outcome of psychotherapy: historical excursus, measurements, and prospects for research. Frontiers in psychology2, 270. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00270
  4. Weiss, R. D., Jaffee, W. B., Menil de, V. P., & Cogley, C. B. (2004). Group therapy for substance use disorders: What do we know?Harvard review of psychiatry12(6), 339-350.