They say that no man is an island, and it is certainly true that humans are social beings. We are genetically programmed to gather in small groups. So, it makes sense for addiction rehab to include elements of that. Not only does it facilitate healing, it prepares recovering addicts for the idea that when they return to the real world, there will be people they will regularly interact with.
One of the things that people are most comforted by is the notion that they are not alone in anything. No matter what we are feeling, we want to know that there is somebody who can relate, somebody who knows what we are going through.
Group therapy provides exactly that. You and some of your fellow residents are placed into a therapy group based on experiences or challenges that you have in common, and you get together with that group and have a discussion that is guided by a therapist.
The therapist has a number of responsibilities, one of which is to ensure that all members of the group have a fair opportunity to talk. Participants are usually arranged in a circle: this allows everyone to have a clear view of everybody else. Also, it creates a sense of unity and equality.
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Forms Of Group Therapy
Process-oriented groups focus primarily on the interactions between the participants. Group members take turns sharing their thoughts and experiences. The idea of opening up in front of strangers may seem daunting, but it is important to remember that the group exists specifically because there are other people who can relate to what you say.
Before long, you will gain a sense of belonging and acceptance that can lead to lasting growth, not only for you, but for the other participants. The discussion in process-oriented groups is driven mostly by the participants. The role of the therapist is to facilitate the discussion and diffuse any tensions or difficulties that arise.
Psychoeducational groups are led more by the therapist. They focus on a particular topic, such as anger management or life skills coaching. While there is some degree of interaction between participants, the primary goal of psychoeducational groups is for the group members to learn something.
Interaction typically takes the form of group exercises and discussions about the topic, with the therapist taking on the role of an instructor. Unlike process-oriented groups, which tend to be open-ended, psychoeducational groups run for a specified number of weeks, or until a clearly defined goal has been achieved.
Benefits Of Group Therapy
Group therapy offers numerous benefits to participants, including the following:
- Group members feel a sense of community and acceptance with people who have had similar experiences.
- The group is a safe place for its members, who may not have other outlets to open up about themselves.
- Participants can derive hope and insights from those in the group who are further along in their journey.
- At the same time, they can help those who are newer to the group and who are still struggling to find their feet.
- While group members tend to struggle with similar things, diversity within the group can contribute to everybody’s growth experiences.
- Group therapy provides opportunities for participants to develop their communication and team-building skills.
- Therapists are given the opportunity to see participants in a group setting, and this can help in the development and/or modification of treatment plans and therapeutic goals.
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Support Groups Vs Group Therapy
Although many people use the terms “group therapy” and “support group” interchangeably, there are some notable differences. Group therapy is led by a trained therapist, and its primary purpose is to facilitate change in the participants.
Support groups may or may not include a therapist, and their goal is to help people cope. Both forms of support have immense value, and in a way they do go hand-in-hand: those who participate in group therapy during rehab often go on to take part in support groups after they have rejoined the real world.
Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous play a big role in the lasting sobriety of many recovering addicts. Not only do these groups continue the support that started during rehab, it provides positive social connections for people who are seeking to avoid contact with those who might encourage substance use or trigger a relapse.
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