There are times when a problem can be solved by enacting one simple step. Unfortunately, addiction is not a simple problem. Addressing it requires a variety of different processes, enacted together, to most effectively reduce the odds of relapse. Group therapy is one of the many tools used at Safe Harbor Recovery in Portsmouth, VA and in the wider recovery community to support abstinence from addictive substances.
Group Therapy as Part of Residential Treatment
When group therapy is being offered at rehab, it is generally facilitated by a trained therapist or substance abuse counselor. This person moderates the group, helps to enforce rules that allow everyone to feel safe in the group, and keeps the group on schedule. The group meets at certain times and on certain days of the week. Attendance may be required.
Alumni Groups for Continuing Care
Many treatment facilities also offer alumni groups, where graduates of the program can support one another in their recovery journeys once they’ve left residential treatment behind. These groups may be facilitated by a professional from the rehab site or by one of the alumni. These groups tend to meet less frequently than groups in treatment and participation is generally optional.
Self-Help Support Groups
Groups like AA, NA, SMART Recovery, and Celebrate Recovery are also a form of group therapy. In these groups, however, members of the group volunteer to take on the various roles needed to help the meeting function properly, instead of relying on a paid, trained counselor. These groups tend to be offered at a variety of locations, at different times and on different days of the week. Especially in larger communities, it is often possible to attend one or more meetings in a single day and on every day of the week.
Overcoming Perceived Barriers to Group Therapy
There are some who are critical of group therapy. The following are some reasons people commonly give for not attending:
- Not feeling that they learn anything from group that they can apply to their own recovery.
- Feeling like their problems are too different from the problems others in the group face.
- Worries that people in the group will share their private information outside the group.
- Insurmountable transportation barriers.
- Scheduling issues.
- Not liking the “vibe” of a particular group or group leader.
These concerns are often expressed by people who are afraid of getting sober or those who are already relapsed or at risk for relapse. There are ways to overcome these perceived barriers to group therapy:
- Enter group therapy with an open mind and recognize that while every person has a different recovery journey, much can be learned from each other.
- Realize that all information shared in a group setting is to be kept private and failure to do so can lead to consequences for participants who violated confidentiality.
- Make recovery (and group, by extension) a priority and schedule less important things around attending meetings.
- Seek rides from others attending the group if transportation is an issue.
- Look at a variety of groups to determine which ones are the best fit.
Benefits of Group Therapy
Group therapy, both at Safe Harbor Recovery in Portsmouth, VA, and elsewhere, has been shown to have many benefits:
- Fighting isolation, by helping individuals to recognize the many experiences and feelings they have in common with other people also trying to recover from addiction.
- Reinforcing that choices (positive or negative) have consequences.
- Sharing problem solving strategies.
- Providing accountability, as peers can help to enforce shared expectations.
- Building new sober supports to replace lost connections with friends who still use.
- Offering structure, so individuals can become accustomed to building it into their routine.
- Providing a safe, therapeutic atmosphere for difficult discussions.
- Offering continuity from inpatient treatment to outpatient treatment to continuing care.
- Making friends who understand the necessity for a sober lifestyle.
While group therapy is a very effective tool for treating addiction, it is only one tool that is available to support people in their recovery journey. At Safe Harbor Recovery in Portsmouth, VA, our team works with clients to develop a treatment plan that utilizes evidence-based treatment methods to promote a wellness-focused lifestyle.