If you have developed a substance use disorder (SUD), chances are there is an underlying psychological component related to a disturbance. Whether a trauma, loss, or dysfunctional childhood experience, it can influence your response to stressors. Emotional, cognitive, and behavioral responses to stressors can increase an individual’s chance of using a substance. Psychodynamic group therapy can help participants gain new insights as to what may be contributing to the SUD.
Psychotherapy is a core treatment method in substance use recovery. There are a variety of evidence-based therapies that have been shown to be highly effective in helping people in early recovery. When used in a group setting, psychotherapy is an effective method to support recovery. Therapy can help you recognize the underlying reasons that have led to unhealthy patterns that have resulted in the cycle of addiction.
What is Psychodynamic Therapy?
Psychodynamic therapy, once referred to as psychoanalysis, is based on the teachings of Sigmund Freud, although it has evolved over the decades. In essence, psychodynamic therapy is “talking therapy,” that helps guide people toward gaining a better understanding of what unconscious motivations might be fueling the SUD.
This type of therapy delves into early life experiences to better understand present behaviors. When used in treatment as a short-term therapy, the focus is on how our past experiences may have shaped irrational emotions.
The key objectives of the psychodynamic approach include:
- The Development of Insight. To help the individual better understand their emotional state. Here, emphasis is more on emotions than thoughts.
- The Expansion of Choice. To help the individual resolve past issues and find inner strength to make rational choices.
- Liberation from the Past. To help the individual heal from the lingering effects of painful past experiences that haunt their present life.
- Improvement of Interpersonal Relationships. To help the individual improve the quality of their relationships.
- The Corrective Emotional Experience. To help the person not only have better cognitive awareness, but to feel better emotionally.
Psychodynamic therapy practiced within a group setting involves a therapist or addiction counselor guiding the discussion among a group of participants. The therapist encourages them to each examine their own unconscious motivations and to consider how these might have factored into the SUD.
5 Benefits of Group Therapy
Group therapy is widely used in SUD treatment settings. This type of therapy provides a safe, supportive environment where participants feel free to share their emotions and personal stories. During each session, a therapist provides a recovery-related topic and persuades the participants to engage in the conversation. Benefits of group therapy include:
- Nurtures peer support. In treatment you can feel isolated, so participating in group therapy helps you build a support system with other peers in recovery.
- Promotes mutual accountability. As the bond between peers deepens, a sense of mutual accountability develops; you want to keep each other strong.
- Allows for fresh insights. The group setting helps participants learn from each other. Another person reflecting on your experience, and seeing things in a different way, offers a new perspective.
- Provides a nonjudgmental environment. Sharing personal feelings with a group of strangers can be intimidating. The purpose of the group sessions, however, is to build support and empathy, and this helps create a sense of trust.
- Encourages companionship. Early recovery can be very lonely, but participating in group sessions offers an opportunity to develop positive relationships with others in recovery.
Psychodynamic group therapy is a useful tool in the journey toward self-discovery and holistic wellness. Participants not only learn new revelations about themselves, but also experience increased compassion for others during the therapeutic process.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formally 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 both inpatient and outpatient programs, holistic addiction treatment, drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to heal each individual with respect and dignity, and reflects on our ongoing commitment to meet new challenges. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.