For those that have personalities that are more introverted, the thought of attending group therapy can feel utterly unnerving. Even those who enjoy the presence of others can feel apprehensive about attending a therapy group with multiple participants. Since being open about various struggles can feel incredibly vulnerable already, the thought of having to do so in a room full of strangers may seem impossible. This scenario could lead one to ask the question: why is group therapy important for addiction recovery?
The Dynamics of Group Therapy in Addiction Recovery
The first step to understanding why group therapy is beneficial to recovery is to learn more about this modality and its function. Although many may be expecting to experience a dynamic in which the leader of the group makes each person go around the table and share detailed personal experiences, this is not the case. Learning more about this way of treatment can help get rid of any preconceived notions that might be preventing this next step. The following dynamics of a typical group therapy session typically include the following:
- The freedom to share or not share: Many think that there is an expectation for each participant in a session to share very personal, uncomfortable experiences or thoughts. However, you have much more freedom than this. The leader of the group will never force an individual to share or not share. Instead, they will present optional opportunities for everyone to be heard if so desired. Each participant has complete control of what they share and how much they share.
- Understanding and compassion: Part of being a leader of group therapy sessions is to foster a safe, compassionate and understanding environment for all participants. Many people experience significant anxiety or discomfort going into group therapy sessions for the first several sessions. Sometimes this leads people to worry about group condemnation regarding their reluctance or fears.
Even though these feelings are real and valid, the reality is that everyone in the group will be understanding, supportive and compassionate. Leaders understand the difficulty of opening up to others, and always offer patience. Participants who have attended group sessions for a while will reflect upon their initial nerves and fears during their first sessions. These reflections will help them empathize with others’ nerves and offer support and compassion as well.
Learning more about yourself and others: Not only does group therapy provide a safe, welcoming community of like-minded individuals, but it also offers vital information for personal growth. An individual can expect to learn unbiased, factual information about the human mind, trauma and new coping mechanisms in these sessions. By gaining new information regarding mental well-being, participants will become more aware of their needs and goals for their lives. Doing so can also help them to build and maintain more functional relationships with loved ones in their lives.
Beginning group therapy may be nerve-racking at first. However, going into the situation with an understanding of its true intentions and qualities may help give the necessary courage to taking the first step.
Does Group Therapy Actually Help with Recovery?
In short, the answer to this question is undoubtedly, yes. However, it is crucial to understand why this is so when considering attending group therapy.
No matter what stage an individual is in during recovery, having a sense of community is always incredibly important. It is essential to have a community of individuals who can understand recovery challenges while also developing themselves. This can help an individual to continue with recovery, despite its many challenges. Doing so may also provide extra encouragement and motivation when recovery presents various, unforeseen hardships. During these times, having those supports in group therapy can be incredibly comforting.
Many people experience guilt during recovery. Before seeking help, some people treated loved ones extremely unfairly. Others feel guilt due to the damage they have done to their mental and physical health. No matter the situation, it is common to feel guilt and shame during this phase of life.
Fortunately, shame cannot exist in the presence of other people, only in isolation. Taking part in group therapy sessions can help to work through and subside these potentially intense feelings. It is incredibly powerful to be able to share these shameful experiences with trusted others. Having these individuals express compassion and understanding can be even more powerful, as painful feelings of guilt and shame are processed with the love and support of like-minded others.
Even though the thought of attending group therapy is unnerving for many people, the benefits of doing so are worth the initial unpleasant feelings. When it comes to recovery, implementing group therapy sessions can positively impact the recovery process in various ways.
Group therapy can provide you with a sense of community and help you work through complicated feelings of guilt and shame. At Pinelands Recovery Center of Medford in New Jersey, those of us understand the importance of implementing group therapy into your recovery. To help give you the unique kind of care you need, we offer many different treatment modalities. These modalities include group therapy, 12-step facilitation therapy, acceptance & commitment therapy and more. Call us today at (877) 557-5372 to speak to one of our trained staff members to learn more.