Why Group Therapy Is Invaluable for Addiction Recovery

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Those seeking treatment options for mental health disorders or addiction will likely be recommended to participate in individual and group therapy. On the one hand, individual therapy is beneficial as it fosters a safe and secure space to discuss thoughts, emotions, and concerns with a therapist. Group therapy, on the other hand, provides opportunities for social networking and support. 

While both modalities deserve the spotlight in treatment, group therapy is often underutilized as some may be under the impression that individual therapy is more valuable. Thus, by highlighting why group therapy is invaluable for addiction recovery, individuals may feel more motivated to incorporate group therapy into their healing journeys.

At Pathways Recovery Center, we offer an abundance of therapeutic opportunities for clients needing professional guidance and support in securing lasting recovery from addiction and dual diagnoses. We encourage our clients to participate in individual and group therapy options, as they pose incredible benefits for treatment and recovery. 

What Is Group Therapy?

Whereas individual therapy consists of one-on-one treatment with a therapist, group therapy treats multiple clients in tandem. According to the book Group Therapy by Akshay Malhotra and Jeff Baker, there are many types of group therapy, each of which aims to bring together individuals with similar life experiences or behavioral concerns. Group therapy groups must bring together individuals with similar or identical mental health conditions, as this increases group cohesiveness and symptom universality throughout treatment sessions.

Some examples of types of group therapy include:

  • Psychoeducational groups: Used to educate clients and families about specific diagnoses as well as associated complications and concerns
  • Skill development groups: Used to help clients learn skills necessary for functioning in everyday life; examples include coping skills, life skills, socialization skills, and emotional regulation skills
  • Cognitive-behavioral groups: Used to elicit positive behavior change by altering clients harmful or otherwise unhealthy beliefs and perceptions
  • Support groups: Used to help clients maintain and reinforce new belief systems and behavioral changes

In addition, the authors highlight the importance of merging clients at different stages of treatment in group therapy, as it allows for healthy comparison among peers. For instance, clients can compare themselves to others who may be further along in their recovery, informing their ability to imagine themselves in a similar position. Similarly, clients may witness peers struggling with more severe symptoms but still contributing to the group, providing continued motivation and treatment engagement throughout recovery. 

The Benefits of Group Therapy for Addiction Recovery

Bringing together individuals experiencing similar mental and emotional challenges can foster incredible benefits, especially for those in addiction recovery. Chronic alcohol and drug use perpetuate self-isolationist tendencies and vice versa, inhibiting an individual's ability to reap the benefits of social support. Meanwhile, since social support often plays a central role in fostering treatment entry as well as long-term treatment engagement, it is necessary to address the additional benefits of group therapy for addiction recovery. 

Provides Lasting Camaraderie

Those attempting to cease alcohol and drug use must evaluate all possible risk factors for future relapse while recovering. One common risk factor that often interferes with a person's ability to secure and sustain sobriety is the quality of their interpersonal relationships, specifically maintaining connections with those who continue to engage in substance use. Especially during early recovery, individuals must create new social networks to distance themselves from family, friends, and others who use alcohol and other drugs. 

In this way, one of the most valuable facets of group therapy is that it provides lasting camaraderie for those working to establish sobriety. It can be comforting to connect with others who are experiencing similar symptoms, despite how distressing such symptoms may be. In addition, the camaraderie gained in group therapy may facilitate lasting connections throughout long-term recovery. 

Fosters the Development of Interpersonal Skills

Another challenge that must be addressed in addiction recovery is acknowledging the impact of substance use on friends and other loved ones. It is common for those in early recovery to lack the interpersonal skills necessary for rebuilding and strengthening relationships affected by addiction. Thus, another benefit of group therapy is that it provides the opportunity for clients to develop interpersonal skills necessary for building and maintaining quality relationships. 

In addition to the socialization skills mentioned earlier, some additional interpersonal skills that may be learned during group therapy discussions include:

  • Conflict-resolution skills
  • Verbal and nonverbal communication skills
  • Team-building skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Emotional regulation and intelligence skills
  • Active listening

At Pathways Recovery Center, we utilize a variety of therapeutic approaches in our group therapy groups to ensure that our clients have the interpersonal skills that they need to thrive in long-term recovery.

Offers an Opportunity for Continued Accountability Throughout Long-Term Recovery

Lastly, group therapy is invaluable for addiction recovery because it offers an opportunity for continued accountability for sobriety, both in early and long-term recovery. Over time, peers involved in group therapy will begin to rely on one another for motivation for continued abstinence. If one member slips up during their recovery, other members can foster encouragement and advice that may get them back on track. 

Moreover, if a person were to participate in individual therapy alone, they may experience less accountability solely from their therapist compared to multiple members of a group therapy group. Such accountability can remain throughout long-term recovery, especially if peers work to maintain connections with other group members following treatment. 

Group therapy provides a variety of benefits for those working to achieve recovery from substance use and mental health disorders. For instance, it provides an opportunity for group members to reap the benefits of social support as well as to develop interpersonal skills necessary for rebuilding relationships broken by substance abuse. If you or a loved one is seeking healing, consider incorporating group therapy into your treatment plan. At Pathways Recovery, we individualize our clients' treatment plans, ensuring that your unique needs and goals are met throughout your recovery journey. Group therapy is one of the many modalities we offer to our clients. To learn more about our program options, give us a call today at (888) 771-0966.

Clinically reviewed by 

Moses Nasser
Dr. Moses Nasser, a double board-certified physician in Family Medicine and Addiction Medicine, with expertise in holistic healing, addiction medicine, and psychiatric care, holds an X-waiver to prescribe buprenorphine and has extensive experience in mindfulness-based customer service and medication-assisted treatment.

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