One option for treating drug and alcohol addictions is to participate in group therapy sessions. There are a number of different types of group therapy, ranging from home support groups to clinical counseling sessions in a mental institution or rehabilitation center. The common thread in all of these is that the therapy sessions are attended and participated in by a group of people who are working to achieve the same results: freedom and recovery from drug and alcohol addictions.
Benefits of Group Therapy for Addictions
Group therapy has proven to be an effective method of therapy in treating many problems, including drug and alcohol addictions. The main benefit of group therapy is that it puts patients in a built-in support group with peers who are going through the same process. The group is a safe place to share struggles because all the members have faced similar struggles and are less likely to be judgmental. Those in the group who are doing well can share their stories and victories, encouraging those who are having less success. Additionally, group therapy is often less expensive than individual therapy, making it an attractive option for those without insurance coverage.
Disadvantages of Participating in Group Therapy
The main disadvantage of all types of group therapy is that there is less individualized attention, and therefore, the therapy sessions are not personally tailored to any specific patient’s needs. Therefore, if a patient’s pattern of use or reasons for using drugs and alcohol vary from the group, the therapy is likely to be less effective. The pace of the group therapy can also at times be too fast or too slow for a particular patient. If a patient is doing especially well in breaking and recovering from addictions, chances are, the therapy group is going to still be going over things that the patient has already mastered. The other extreme can also occur, when a patient is not making steps toward breaking addictions and the group as a whole is moving on to further steps and concepts.
Informal Group Therapy Options
One of the most common types of group therapy for recovering alcoholics is Alcoholics Anonymous. These support meetings allow recovering alcoholics to share their struggles and their victories, and to provide support to new members. Best of all, these meetings are free, so they will not break the bank or require making insurance claims and adding treatments to medical records. However, for serious addictions, professional clinical therapy may be required to fully recover.
There are also a number of religiously affiliated programs for group therapy, most of which do not require that participants have that religious affiliation. One type of group therapy is a Christian program called Celebrate Recovery, developed by Pastor Rick Warren. The Celebrate Recovery groups that happen around the world use recovery principles based on the beatitudes and rely on God’s power to help people recover from not only addictions, but also other kinds of hurts that require counseling and therapy.
Types of Clinical Group Therapy
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a form of therapy that is run by a clinically trained psychologist and focuses specifically on changing cognitions and behavior. In therapy sessions, patients report their success on homework assignments from the previous week and the weak points they have noticed in their fight to cut off drug or alcohol use, and the counselor teaches a new skill that many group members would benefit from knowing. The skills are related to recognizing thoughts and cues surrounding drug or alcohol use and replacing them with positive thoughts and actions. The last part of therapy is a time for participants to clarify their understanding of the skill and decide on a homework assignment that will put the skill into use in the next week.
Group psychotherapy is another common form of clinical group therapy that has roots in Freudian psychology. It is a much more fluid therapy, and its focus is on talking and sharing, and allowing participants to discover the roots of their problems on their own. It has had much success over the years, and it is especially strong in building a therapeutic relationship between the counselor and participants.