Therapy is a key component of the addiction recovery process. During therapy sessions, individuals can work to combat the emotional, social, and psychological issues connected to their substance abuse. Therapy, which can take place individually or in a group setting, can also help individuals manage stress, overcome triggers, heal from trauma, regulate difficult emotions, restore relationships, prevent relapse, and maintain sobriety. Even though both types of counseling can help individuals recover from addiction, they differ in many ways.
In individual therapy, individuals meet with a licensed counselor for one-on-one sessions. Group therapy, on the other hand, involves several people in the same room working together to address challenges as a group. But those aren’t the only differences between individual and group therapy. Here’s what you need to know about therapy and addiction recovery, what each type of therapy entails, and how the two types of therapy differ from each other.
Therapy is an essential aspect of addiction recovery. In addition to providing individuals with a safe, non-judgmental outlet that can help an individual start healing from trauma or painful experiences, therapy can help individuals understand the reasons behind their addiction. Without addressing these underlying issues, individuals can easily become overwhelmed by unresolved pain from their past and relapse.
Therapy can also help recovering individuals change their lifestyle habits. In addition to eliminating drugs and alcohol from their body, individuals recovering from addiction need to identify, address, and change the day-to-day habits they've created that have contributed to their substance abuse. This can include drinking and using drugs to relieve everyday stress, psychological distress, and emotional pain. This can also include using addictive substances as a way to escape reality, cure insomnia, ease painful symptoms, medicate mental health disorders, or deal with boredom.
Therapy also has many other benefits. For example, therapy can help people:
The type of therapy an individual receives can be different for everyone, but many individuals begin with individual therapy and start to participate in group therapy as their recovery progresses.
Individual therapy is a form of therapy in which the client is treated on a one-on-one basis with a therapist. A therapist will usually work with a client to address the root causes of the problem, such as how they got into trouble, what led them to become addicted, and how they can get out of it. Since individual therapy sessions are one-on-one, this type of therapy can help individuals work through personal and private challenges. These challenges can include trauma, mental health disorders, and family challenges. One of the best advantages of individual therapy is that the sessions focus on a single person.
Unlike individual therapy, group therapy takes place in a group setting that allows several individuals to share their experiences at the same time. Groups can often provide emotional support. They have also helped people overcome problems on an interpersonal level through shared experiences in the room. Group therapy works by helping people to navigate conflicts and overcome issues on an interpersonal level. The group format allows for a more informal conversation with other people and helps them find solutions to problems collectively.
Both individual and group therapy help the recovery process, but they do so in different ways. As the name suggests, one-on-one sessions help strengthen and guide individuals as they begin and continue their own specific recovery journey. Group therapy provides support and guidance for general recovery needs.
Although aspects of addiction can look and feel similar, recovering from addiction can be a very individual-specific journey. For example, the reasons why individuals started using addictive substances as well as what they were hoping to accomplish with those substances often differ. In addition, individuals have different childhood and life experiences, different home environments, friendships, and family dynamics. All of these differences can affect an individual's substance use history.
Because of this, many individuals need to spend a significant amount of time working through their own recovery needs. These needs can include:
Without working through these specific recovery needs first, individuals may be closed off to the recovery process. They may be unwilling to talk in a group setting, reluctant to tell the truth, and unable to trust the process and therapist. They might also be more likely to relapse.
Group therapy focuses on general recovery issues such as coping with addiction triggers, relapse prevention, anger management, navigating change, life skills, interpersonal skills, stress management, and emotional regulation techniques. In group therapy, individuals see that they are dealing with needs and challenges that other people are dealing with as well. This can help combat isolation and create a sense of camaraderie and kinship which is crucial to addiction recovery.
Many individuals in recovery struggle with opening up in the early stages of their recovery. When they feel this way, individual therapy provides them with a safe, private environment. They can share their personal journeys and struggles without feeling judged or put on the spot. This allows them to open up and honestly communicate about their past, present, and future.
In group therapy, individuals feel a sense of emotional support by being able to be open about addiction-related challenges with others who are going through similar experiences. In addition, they gain practical coping skills from other group members. Just by watching and listening to other people with similar challenges and experiences, individuals can learn positive behaviors including:
Group therapy can also help individuals learn and develop better communication and socialization skills. This can help individuals learn how to express issues and accept criticism from others. As individuals observe, adapt, and model positive behaviors from others who have gone through similar experiences, they learn skills, techniques, and everyday life skills that can help them maintain long-term sobriety.
Different individuals recover at different paces. Some individuals may need more time to adjust to therapy. As a result, these individuals may want and need their therapy sessions to move at a slower pace. Other individuals may prefer more focused and intense therapy sessions. Trying to manage different paces can be difficult in a group setting, but individual therapy can be tailored to meet an individual's pace. Individual therapy is also flexible enough to change the pace of recovery as needed.
Individuals who live with mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety can benefit greatly from attending a group addiction recovery program because they can share their stories with others who understand. Spending time with group members who have similar experiences dealing with depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders can be unifying. Individuals can also learn coping skills that will help them recover from addiction while living with a mental illness. In addition, group members can support, motivate, and encourage each other. Having a strong support network is crucial to addiction recovery, so group therapy sessions are perfect for individuals who live with mental illness as well as addiction.
Many long-time addicts have low self-esteem and low self-worth. This may predate their addiction but can occur as a result of living with addiction for years without getting the support that they need. As individuals work on building their confidence in individual therapy sessions, they will feel more empowered to continue their recovery journey and maintain their sobriety.
Having a healthy sense of self-esteem can also help recovering individuals:
Individuals in group therapy are able to share their own struggles without fear or judgment from others. However, they are also accountable for the progress that they make with each other's help. Peer accountability and peer encouragement can be powerful tools to help individuals maintain addiction recovery. Having an entire group of accountability partners can help individuals maintain sobriety when they might otherwise feel alone and give up.
Therapy is an important component of the addiction recovery process. Individual therapy is a private, confidential, non-judgemental safe space for individuals to deal with emotional, social, and psychological issues like the problems related to addiction. Group therapy is a supportive, encouraging, motivating, and inspiring safe space where individuals can learn to manage stress, overcome triggers, heal from trauma, and prevent relapse. Although different, both forms of therapy have unique benefits.
Here at Aftermath Addiction Treatment Center, we offer both types of therapy so contact us today if you’re looking for someone to talk to about substance abuse or just need some support at this time in your life.