Advantages of Group Therapy

When working with Recovering Addicts, we recommend a four-fold approach:

  1. 12-Step Group
  2. Individual Therapy
  3. Individual Independent Work
  4. Group Therapy

This blog is about that fourth item:  Group Therapy. Group Therapy is not to be confused with attending a 12-Step Group. In our experience, both types of groups are necessary to achieving recovery.

While a good 12-Step Group can provide safety and sense of “I’m not alone or a freak,” the structure that makes 12-Step Groups so effective (the liturgy of readings, the rules about cross-talk, the strict time limits on who can speak when, etc.) do not fit in the context of Group Therapy.

Group Therapy does not have the same set of rules as a 12-Step Group.  First, it is guided by a trained therapist. There is usually a topic for the meeting and a time of instruction by the therapist followed by open discussion. While the same rules of anonymity and confidentiality apply in Group Therapy that apply in a 12-Step Group, Therapy groups tend to be looser, with opportunities for learning from each other, questions, and insights from the presiding professional.

Here are six advantages of being involved in some form of Group Therapy:

  1. VALIDATION: We realize our feelings are legitimate and we need not be ashamed. We did not act out of a vacuum, we don’t live in a vacuum, and we won’t recover in a vacuum.
  2. REDUCING ISOLATION: Addicts tend to act out when they are alone, and their sense of aloneness is heightened by their acting out. The isolation that fuels the addiction must be overcome. As the song said, “Sometimes you’ve got to go where everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came.”
  3. CONSOLATION: We experience the joy and satisfaction of helping others in their struggles through sharing words of encouragement and identification.
  4. ECONOMY: The cost of Group Therapy is lower than the cost of Individual Therapy.
  5. BROADENING: The Group, by its very nature, brings differing perspectives to bear on the specific issues of the meeting. Listening to different voices can offer new insights, reveal blind spots, and foster new and creative solutions.
  6. SAFETY: The therapist ensures that the group is a safe place and that participants don’t need to “call their own fouls.” It is a place that allows freedom of expression without judgement or prejudice.

If you are not involved in Group Therapy, you should seriously consider it as part of your recovery plan. Any therapist should be able to point you toward a Group Therapy session that meets your needs and your schedule.