Group therapy is an integral part of any quality alcohol addiction treatment program. According to the Principles of Effective Treatment for alcohol abuse, which are set forth by the National Institutes on Drug Abuse, participation in group therapy and other peer support programming both during treatment and afterwards helps prevent relapse for those in alcohol recovery.
The various behavioral therapies used in group settings vary in focus and may address motivation, incentives, problem-solving skills, education, behavioral changes, and relationship building skills.
Whatever the focus of the type of therapy being administered, members who participate in group therapy receive a large number of benefits from it.
Five Models of Group Therapy
Humans are social animals who are naturally drawn to groups, thereby preventing feelings of isolation benefiting from collaboration for problem solving.
Group therapy in addiction treatment is defined by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration as groups that have trained leaders at the helm helping to guide the discussion and assist group members with synthesizing information and applying the lessons that emerge during the discussion. The five models of group therapy that are most commonly used in addiction treatment include:
- Psychoeducational groups that learn about the mechanics of addiction and substance abuse.
- Skills development groups that develop the techniques and strategies essential for beating an addiction.
- Cognitive-behavioral groups that learn to replace harmful ways of behaving and thinking with healthier ways.
- Support groups that enable participants to support one another in making constructive changes.
- Interpersonal process groups that help members reconstruct their past in the present moment and rethink their problems without the impediment of psychoactive substances.
The Top 5 Benefits of Group Therapy
Group therapy has numerous benefits for individuals in recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction, with the top five benefits offering:
Positive peer support and pressure to remain abstinent. Members of group therapy hold each other accountable for attending each session, arriving on time, and actively participating in order to ensure everyone benefits from the session.
Reduced feelings of isolation. Feeling isolated from humanity is common when you’re battling addiction, and it’s a major trigger for relapse. Group members share openly about their struggles and triumphs, making it easy for members to identify with others and increase their sense of security and belonging.
Hope for recovery. Seeing the successes of others in recovery offers hope to participants – particularly those new to treatment – regarding their own recovery.
A variety of coping skills and strategies. It’s what participants learn from others in the group
rather than from the facilitator that is so powerful for those in recovery. Group members are able to see how others cope with certain situations, such as a difficult boss, marital problems, or a potent relapse trigger, and they may find that these skills and strategies work for them as well.
The opportunity to gain a more accurate self-perception. Hearing what others have to say about your abilities, values, experiences, and conceptions help you discard faulty ideas and beliefs that can undermine your recovery.
Other Benefits of Group Therapy
Group members often become like family to one another, providing support and nurturing that you may not find elsewhere. Other benefits of group therapy include:
- Support and encouragement during difficult times.
- Structure and discipline.
- Practice putting new social skills to work in a safe environment.
- Members helping other members confront their own denial and break down barriers to treatment.
- A built-in social network of other non-users.
Especially when used in conjunction with individual and family therapy, group therapy is highly beneficial for anyone with an alcohol addiction, either in an inpatient treatment setting or as part of an out-patient program.
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