The Role of Group Therapy in Addiction Recovery
Addiction recovery is a long-term process, which rarely works in the same way for any two individuals. Everyone’s needs differ, to some degree: their motivation, the ways in which they find support, the reasons why they turned to substance abuse in the first place, and the presence of other underlying health concerns conspire to make everybody’s experience unique. This leads to the employ of different combinations of recovery techniques and strategies, which will best serve a specific client in their efforts to achieve and maintain sobriety.
One of the many tools in the recovery toolbox is the use of group therapy sessions—the practice of treating clients together, in the company of individuals, who are confronting similar challenges on their own respective journeys towards recovery. Whether it is due to an individual finding support through sharing with those who can appreciate their experiences, or because someone need s a little extra assistance in developing strategies for communicating with other people, group therapy is often able to provide a level of assistance in returning to healthy, once-cherished associations which other methods of recovery treatment cannot render.
The Function of Group Therapy in Mindfulness-Based Addiction Recovery
Mindfulness-based therapy is about developing ways to cope with stress that involve focusing on one’s current surroundings in space, as well as in time. The only thing that a person can control is how they act—and react—in each individual moment: the past cannot be changed. In attempting to control the many possibilities of the future, one loses track of the present moment, and makes otherwise avoidable errors in judgment.
Mindfulness-based relapse prevention (or MBRP) is a powerful tool for controlling cravings, coping with anxiety, and negating the many other factors which lead so many individuals to spiral back into the use of addictive substances after completing their recovery cycles. Group therapy can be an effective tool in building a relaxed and intentional state of mind: clients are able to interact with each other, and to observe how others make this transition.
Group therapy is not for everyone. However, there are several types of therapies and exercises which rely almost exclusively on a group setting. In group therapy, individuals facing similar challenges can share progress, experiences, and other information relating directly to ways that they have found to improve their circumstances. Group therapy also helps to facilitate trust, and a sense of belonging to a community. Several types of cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, rely on group therapy to help clients develop ways of coping with destructive behavioral patterns—learning how to engage with other people in constructive, mutually supportive ways.
Where Does Group Therapy Fit Within a Transition and Recovery Plan?
Every individual working to overcome the challenges of addiction needs to begin with their own personal recovery plan. This plan can’t be completed overnight, and should not be regarded as set in stone. There should be room for it to grow and change in accordance with the needs of the individual. In a sober living environment, such as that afforded by West Coast Recovery Centers during the first stage of transitional living, there is an initial two-week period of trust-building and observation. During that time, clients and staff may work together to begin establishing a rough draft of a recovery plan.
If group therapy is evaluated to be in the client’s best interests, it will typically begin after the initial two-week evaluation, sometime during the remainder of the first forty-five days of the client’s transition. For some individuals, group therapy may be postponed until the intensive outpatient phase of their personal recovery cycle. This depends on many things, such as why a specific individual is considering group therapy, and what benefits they are hoping to gain. Transitional living, as a process, is undertaken at a comfortable pace for the client.
More information about group therapy may be found through the following online resources: