Group therapy is an essential component in a well-rounded treatment addiction program. These small groups are comprised of other patients on their recovery journey and provide a safe space for participants to talk about their experiences. Since group therapy discussions can get very personal, the sessions can become an excellent source of emotional support while patients are in treatment.
What is Group Therapy?
Group therapy, conducted alongside individual therapy, is a mainstay in substance rehabilitation programs. Studies have shown that peer-based support groups have a beneficial effect on participants.
Some of these benefits include increased treatment completion rates, better relationships with treatment providers and reduced relapse rates.
During a group therapy session, participants meet with a licensed addiction counselor or therapist who helps the group discuss topics related to recovery. The therapist’s role is to facilitate conversation and encourage respectful conversation about any feelings and experiences.
Most sessions will involve a combination of group discussions and group activities. Therapists have a multitude of group exercises to choose from, which help to facilitate meaningful conversation, with a typical session lasting 45-60 minutes.
Group Therapy Activities
Counselors center group therapy activities on helping participants address any limiting beliefs or other disordered thinking that leads to substance use. The sessions rarely talk about actual substance use, but rather focus on events.
Some of the topics that counselors cover with patients are trauma, life events, grief, loss, broken relationships, or anything that can cause feelings of shame, guilt, anger, and resentment. To help free the participants from these negative emotions and thought distortions, the therapist will conduct group exercises that can include some of these group activities:
- Mindfulness. A group mindfulness session helps teach participants how to slow down and take in any current events while intentionally paying attention to and accepting the sensory experiences of the present moment.
- Role-Playing. Role-playing, also called psychodrama, has participants reenact a theme suggested by the therapist, with one person as the protagonist. After the scene, the group then discusses alternative endings and solutions to the situation.
- Reflect and Relate. In this exercise, participants share something that is meaningful to the group, and discuss..This exercise can be modified in various ways, like having the participants each share their favorite song, and why it has deep meaning.
- Inside Out. This exercise has the members decorate paper bags. On the outside of the bag, the patients draw aspects of their lived experience that other people can see. . On the inside of the bag, patients display the hidden qualities that most people do not see.
Group Therapy Tips
Group therapy is intended to help members build self-confidence, trust, and improve interpersonal skills individually and when relating with other people. To ensure that the group sessions remain productive, follow these tips:
- Keep in mind that the group members will express diverse opinions and perspectives, and embrace that.
- Allow all members of the group to have an opportunity to share and participate. Avoid over-talking or interrupting, or choosing not to participate in the group activities.
Group therapy is one of the ways that counselors and therapists can help patients recover and is present in most rehabilitation programs. Because each individual is unique, those programs that offer a variety of therapies, including group therapy, helps assure that everyone benefits from at least one type of treatment intervention. Group therapy adds an important social component to the essential role of therapy in substance use recovery.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders and is accredited by The Joint Commission. We offer holistic care that encompasses the mind, body and spirit through inpatient and outpatient treatment, and provide drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Our driving principle – “everything for recovery” – reinforces our mission to transform and save lives through the science of medicine, the art of therapy and the compassion of spirituality, and is complemented by our philosophy of healing with respect and dignity. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.