Preparing for Group Therapy: Knowing What to Expect

Those who are new to the idea of substance abuse or mental health treatment may be experiencing a wide range of emotions as they prepare to participate in treatment. During this preparation time, it can be beneficial to know what to expect from the treatment journey. Although there are notable differences among treatment programs, most programs recommend participation in both individual and group therapy. While individual therapy offers one-on-one support, group therapy fosters social support and cohesion with others in treatment. Nevertheless, preparing for group therapy ahead of time can remove hesitations/resolve fears/ that may inhibit an individual from utilizing this valuable intervention.

At 12 South Recovery, all of our treatment programs incorporate both individual and group therapy. While one-on-one therapy works to establish safety, trust, and rapport between a client and therapist, group therapy works to foster accountability and social support between those on the journey to recovery. Furthermore, preparing for group therapy at 12 South Recovery involves being open and vulnerable and, ultimately, accepting that we are all flawed human beings who must lean on one another to heal.

Preparing for Group Therapy: Understanding the Basics

According to a publication by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “Group therapy is a therapy modality wherein clients learn and practice recovery strategies, build interpersonal skills, and reinforce and develop social support networks.” Group therapy sessions are led by a professional therapist and often take place every week.

Although the size of the group may vary between about five to 15 people, the number of group members does not limit the effectiveness of the intervention. Rather, the group members’ willingness to discuss their own experiences and concerns is the most critical factor in the effectiveness of group therapy.

Moreover, as an article published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry explains, “Group therapies can serve a variety of functions.” Some examples of these functions include:

  • Correcting behaviors
  • Fostering psychological and emotional development
  • Providing education about relevant subjects
  • Preventing future problems
  • Offering a recreational outlet
  • Providing therapeutic help

For those working to overcome the effects of substance abuse or mental health disorders, group therapy interventions work to serve a combination of these functions. In psychoeducational groups, a therapist comes to sessions with specific lessons, helping to inform group members. Additionally, there are also relapse prevention groups that help group members develop preventative strategies for future substance use and relapses.

The Benefits of Group Therapy

In addition to strengthening interpersonal skills and promoting social networks, SAMHSA notes the following therapeutic advantages of group therapy:

  • Reducing isolation and stigma
  • Fostering effective communication
  • Promoting recovery-oriented coping strategies among group members
  • Being cost-effective
  • Reducing physiological symptoms and distress
  • Improving treatment engagement and abstinence rates

Another important benefit of group therapy is that it promotes accountability. Over time, individuals in a group will begin to rely on one another and hold each other accountable for staying committed to behavioral change. If someone does not make a choice that is in alignment with their sober goals, other members will voice their concerns and offer support. Since members may struggle to hold themselves accountable for their behaviors (especially in early recovery), the accountability gained from group therapy is invaluable.

As sessions continue, group members become more willing to discuss their personal challenges with others. In turn, group members will recognize that their own experiences are common. They see that many other group members are experiencing the same challenges. Moreover, verbalizing personal experiences to others allows group members to learn from one another and lean into social support. All of these benefits can work to promote further growth and stability in the lifelong recovery journey of each group member.

Preparing for Group Therapy at 12 South Recovery

At 12 South Recovery, we provide group therapy in a variety of formats. Our groups are designed to focus on a specific issue, whether it be substance abuse, loss, trauma, anxiety, or something else. Moreover, our sessions are led by trained therapists who focus on teaching participants different strategies for managing the main problem of the group.

Before participating in group therapy, new clients will work with our intake team to address their individualized needs, concerns, and other factors that have led them to seek treatment. From there, our staff will help curate an individualized treatment plan in accordance with one of our several outpatient treatment programs. We offer general outpatient treatment, intensive outpatient programs (IOPs), and partial hospitalization programs (PHPs).

In addition to one-on-one and group therapy interventions, individualized treatment plans may also include several of the following services:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR)
  • Relapse prevention
  • Holistic therapy
  • Adventure therapy
  • Family therapy and other family programs

No matter where clients are on their journey to addiction recovery, we have what they need to secure lasting healing in their lives.

Group therapy is an invaluable service that fosters accountability and social support for those healing from substance abuse and other mental health concerns. When group therapy and one-on-one therapy are utilized in tandem, this fosters the best chance at securing lasting sobriety and recovery. If you or a loved one are seeking treatment and are unsure where to begin, consider reaching out to us at 12 South Recovery. We offer individualized treatment through outpatient treatment program options that meet the unique needs and recovery goals of each client we serve. Group therapy is one of the many modalities we offer to promote social healing and recovery. Learn more by calling (888) 830-8374 today.

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