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What to Expect in Addiction Group Therapy

What to Expect in Addiction Group Therapy

Addiction treatment programs provide a variety of therapies that help a person gain the skills and knowledge to maintain a substance-free lifestyle.  Among those are individual and group therapy sessions.   While most people don’t mind attending individual sessions, they are uncomfortable about baring their souls to strangers in a group setting.  

Group therapy is an integral part of most addiction treatment plans. The goal is to help a person realize that they aren’t alone in their struggle with addiction.  They benefit from listening to others as they share their experiences, goals, and coping tips.  Participants bond with each other over something they have in common:  overcoming drug or alcohol addiction.

So, if you are wondering what to expect in addiction group therapy, this information may alleviate some of your misgivings.

Unique Elements of Group Therapy You Wouldn’t Expect

When you envision yourself in a group therapy session, what do you see happening?  Do you imagine several people sitting in a circle avoiding eye contact with each other?  What do you expect to hear when they begin telling their stories?  Maybe you aren’t a bit interested in hearing about their hardships.  And, you’re not sure you want to share yours with them.  

It’s understandable to feel that way.  Facing the unknown while in your sensitive state is not something to look forward to.  Letting strangers hear about your struggles doesn’t appeal to you.  But, you’ll be surprised to find that this approach to therapy is not so bad after all.  

One unique element of group therapy is that each person in the group has strengths and weaknesses.  Everyone’s story is different, yet they have a common goal.  By sharing their experiences, others in the group can gain valuable insight to make their recovery journey easier.

What Happens During Group Therapy Sessions?

Therapy groups may be open or closed sessions.  An open group allows new members to join at any time.  Closed groups mean the membership remains the same from beginning to end.   Also, open groups often have no designated start or end date.  Closed groups have a predetermined number of days, weeks, or months.  

People who attend outpatient therapy can expect closed groups that meet once a week.  Inpatient and residential groups are usually open groups that meet two or three times a week or daily.  

Therapy groups are led or moderated by licensed, trained counselors or therapists.  The therapist may ask questions and encourage participation.  Their role is to reinforce rules and guidelines to ensure a safe, healthy, confidential atmosphere for everyone in the group.   Also, the therapist or counselor may provide feedback when appropriate and observe how group members interact together.  

Group therapy sessions can last from one hour to two hours so all members have the opportunity to contribute to the discussions if they wish to do so.

How Can You Benefit from Addiction Group Therapy?

The journey to recovery is often a rocky path littered with obstacles.  But, knowing you aren’t all alone on this path can help you get through those rough spots.  Attending regularly scheduled counseling sessions can provide support and guidance to help you stay on track.

Some of the other benefits you can expect from group therapy are as follows:

  • A sense of connection and belonging:  Substance use often interferes with or ends a person’s relationships.  Group therapy can alleviate their sense of isolation as they connect with others in the group.
  • Receiving and giving support:  Group members learn to accept help from others. In turn, they feel motivated to pay it forward.  Giving support or advice to others improves self-esteem, which plays a vital role in maintaining sobriety.
  • Learning to interact with others:  Groups are a safe place to build skills for interacting with others while sober.  This is probably one of the hardest things to do after leaving rehab.  People in recovery must learn ways to have fun that don’t involve alcohol drugs.
  • Improved communication skills:  People in a group setting have an opportunity to practice giving or receiving feedback without being aggressive or defensive.  Effective communication skills are vital while attempting to re-establish your place in society after rehab.
  • Gain a new perspective:  Listening to others during group sessions is an excellent opportunity to learn different ways to look at your situation.  With a new perspective, you’ll discover new ways of dealing with problems or issues.
  • Build friendships:  It’s not unusual for some group members to form lasting friendships with other group members.  These new friendships can be a continuing source of support and encouragement.

Group therapy also gives members a chance to witness positive changes in others.  They celebrate each other’s victories and support each other when challenges or setbacks arise.  With each achievement, a person is inspired to go one step further.  This sense of inspiration can be contagious and give others the encouragement they need to succeed in recovery.

Group Therapy at Cycles of Change Recovery Services

At Cycles of Change Recovery, we understand the challenges faced during recovery from addiction.  Our program includes a variety of options that focus on helping a person manage and overcome those challenges.  

If you’ve avoided rehab because you don’t know what to expect in group therapy, contact us at our Palmdale, CA facility today.  We’ll be happy to talk to you about our program and suggest a treatment plan customized for your unique needs.


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