Group therapy is a common practice throughout addiction recovery, starting from the beginning when exploring one’s relationship with drugs or alcohol to ongoing outpatient therapy with groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) For those entertaining the idea of a dedicated recovery program, group therapy can be an intimidating prospect. There is nothing easy about confronting one’s anxieties, vulnerabilities, or guilt when it comes to addiction and recovery. the idea of doing all of this in front of strangers can be incredibly difficult.
Group therapy is a crucial and impactful part of the recovery process for a reason. Breaking through preconceived barriers can help an individual best embrace the unique advantages that group therapy provides.
The Barriers to Group Therapy
Group therapy can be scary. It is already difficult for individuals to admit how addiction has impacted their lives to themselves. These difficulties can be further compounded if they are acknowledging the ramifications of the use of addictive substances in a group setting. For some, more public settings can be inherently uncomfortable, especially when it comes to the sharing of personal experiences. This can be even more difficult for those suffering from social anxiety. Others may be wary of their peers, wanting to get to know people on a more personal level before disclosing any personal information.
Personal demographics can also play a role in how one approaches group therapy. Having people of a similar age group, socioeconomic status, professional status, gender, or other characteristics all impact how one feels within any given group setting. Finding an effective group can be one of the most important factors in creating a feeling of safety and acceptance during the beginning of the recovery journey. For some, finding the right group with the right demographics can provide the necessary sense of belonging.
Clashes of personality are always possible with any group dynamic. It is important to remember that an individual is never tied to a single group effort. Rather, there are many different groups that can be found to best meet one’s needs in recovery.
The Advantages of Group Therapy
Despite the barriers that may be present with group therapy, there is a reason that it is still a widely used and successful form of therapy for coping with the effects of addiction and recovery. The advantages that it creates are instrumental in a successful, sober future. Focusing on these advantages while navigating any barriers that may be present can help an individual use the resources group therapy provides and maintain a healthy attitude towards their sober goals.
Creating a Sense of Belonging
Addiction is a very isolating disease, and those suffering from addiction can become both physically and emotionally cut off from those around them. It can compromise important relationships, from friendships to marriages to those with close relatives. Creating a space where one feels connected to others is crucial for battling these feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Even if a person is not actively sharing themselves, listening to others’ stories, experiences, and feelings creates a sense of kinship and belonging necessary to break through self-imposed isolationist barriers. Creating a space where one feels accepted and heard is instrumental in creating a healthy recovery plan. The group setting can also help an individual begin the process of breaking down barriers in relationships of all kinds.
Exploring Practical Strategies
Group therapy is a place for those navigating their sobriety to interact with dedicated professionals and peers in a similar stage of recovery. These peers provide a constant influx of new and practical coping strategies that have been proven to help others in similar situations. While exploring new coping strategies is an ongoing part of the recovery process, seeing these strategies succeed in others can motivate an individual to continuously adapt these practical strategies for themselves in their continued recovery efforts.
Between professionals and peers, there is always a new strategy to try or a new mentality to implement in one’s own recovery journey. This can help prevent a person from feeling “stuck” in their recovery and will encourage them to try new positive coping exercises as they reach their sober goals.
Developing Social Skills
Developing social skills is an important part of the recovery process. Learning to communicate complex emotions and struggles, discuss recovery with family, connect with others in sobriety, and otherwise explore one’s developing sober identity all require a new approach to social and communication skills. These skills can help an individual either gain the support needed to process certain trials in their sobriety or develop new relationships in sobriety.
These social skills can also help an individual navigate many facets of their recovery, from learning to ask for help to developing how they want to approach talking about addiction and recovery as a whole — a skill important for navigating interviews and developing supportive relationships. Being able to develop these skills in a safe, accepting environment can create the most honest, effective social skills in recovery, and the most impactful social circle for one’s continued sober success.
Success Through Group Therapy
Group therapy plays an important role in the recovery process. After the years of isolation that alcohol and drug addiction can cause, it will be a relief to find that others have not only gone through the same struggle but have come out the other side and are living a life in recovery. Whether learning valuable new skills to cope with overcoming addiction or learning how to trust and communicate openly again, group therapy is a valuable resource for those healing from addiction and building a healthier new life.
Group therapy is a powerful experience, and making connections and establishing a community of professionals and peers alike can help you navigate each step of the recovery process. At Pacific Sands Recovery Center, located in beautiful Santa Ana, CA, we are committed to helping you navigate insecurities and vulnerabilities while still creating a transformative, personalized approach to your recovery as a member of a supportive group program. Whether you are just taking your first step into detox from drugs or alcohol or looking to continue developing your sober coping strategies and get involved with a helpful, supportive community, we are prepared to create a plan that is right for you. For more information on how we can personalize your time with us, or to speak to a caring, trained staff member about your unique situation, call us today at (949) 426-7962.