Group therapy is a daily part of drug and alcohol addiction treatment in most programs. At Discovery Institute of New Jersey, we provide different kinds of group therapy each day to make sure that our clients have a well-rounded, complete approach to their care. 

No two sessions are ever alike, but our clients will be with the same therapists and peers to establish a sense of trust, respect, belonging, and support. Our goal is to foster a healthy group dynamic that supports the recovery journey of each individual involved through collaboration, sharing, feedback, and positive emotional interaction.

The Benefits of Group Therapy for Drug and Alcohol Addiction

When individuals enter treatment, many of them suffer from social and emotional isolation from family, friends, and society as a whole. Without the social skills necessary to function in group settings, patients are unable to adjust to life outside of drug and alcohol rehab. They may also be unable to successfully hold a job or reintegrate into family and social dynamics.

That’s why we emphasize the importance of group therapy and group dynamics here at the Discovery Institute of New Jersey. The benefits of group therapy are wide-ranging, and they include:

  • Provides support. Experiencing emotional distress such as anxiety or depression can be a scary and lonely experience. Being able to process these feelings in a group setting with other patients who can relate to these feelings de-stigmatizes them and normalizes them. This allows the patient to accept their feelings and process them in a productive and healthy way.
  • Offers encouragement. Being able to hear about how other patients overcame struggles or coped with difficult emotions can encourage patients to face their own problems head-on.
  • Promotes the development of healthy social skills. Many individuals who suffer from addiction are unable to function comfortably or “normally” in social environments, whether at work, school, home, or with friends. This often happens because substance use damages a person’s ability to relate to others. But group therapy helps people to develop vital interpersonal skills. It enables and encourages patients to interact with one another, process emotions together, and give each other constructive feedback. Learning how to function in a group setting is an important part of re-orienting oneself within society. These skills help patients to function and build relationships in “the real world” once they leave treatment.

More Benefits of Group Therapy for Addiction

Group therapy for substance use disorder also:

  • Reduces isolation. Group therapy may be the first opportunity many of our patients have had in a long time to relate to others and build relationships. This promotes self-esteem and healthy communication skills.
  • Teaches patients to give back. In addition to processing their own emotions and receiving feedback from both counselors and peers, patients have opportunities in group therapy to give feedback and help others. These opportunities help promote self-esteem and understanding for others, two important qualities of long-term recovery from drugs and alcohol.
  • Offers people the opportunity to witness the victories of others. While in recovery, it’s important for people to be able to see other people overcome their struggles. This gives people the opportunity to encourage others and see the benefits of dedication and commitment to recovery. Seeing others succeed can be encouraging and motivating to those who are working toward a life that is free from addiction.
  • Helps individuals to develop conflict-resolution skills and group work abilities. Those who are on the road to recovery from addiction may be unsure about how to work alongside others, especially when it comes to problem-solving and conflict resolution. It can be difficult for people to feel comfortable in these areas after having struggled with addiction. But, group therapy allows people to work through these things, building the skills they need in order to successfully engage and interact with other people.

No doubt, there are many other benefits to be found in group therapy for addiction. So, it’s important to speak with a professional to learn more about how this type of therapy can help you as you work through your recovery journey.

What Happens in Group Therapy?

Group therapy can involve many different methods in order to teach a range of coping skills and promote the expression and processing of emotion. At Discovery Institute of New Jersey, we offer different styles of group therapy in order to provide comprehensive, diverse treatment to all of our patients.

Some examples of the group therapy methods used at Discovery include the following:

  • Focus groups – These groups choose one topic to address, such as gender-related issues, relapse prevention, or coping skills.
  • Creative groups – These groups promote expression of emotion through unconventional methods, allowing patients to get in touch with their creative powers.
  • Writing therapy – Writing is a great tool for reflection and growth. Writing groups encourage patients to express their experiences and emotion, and provide a record of growth which patients can refer back to throughout their recovery.
  • Art therapy – Art can be calming and healing. Creating paintings, sculptures, and drawings is a great way to calm down and to express emotion in a nonverbal way.
  • Processing groups – These groups allow patients to navigate complex, sometimes painful emotions regarding traumatic events in a healthy, supportive atmosphere.
  • Fitness classes like yoga and light exercise- these groups promote holistic health and caring for one’s physical well-being, an important skill for a fulfilled, well-rounded life outside of treatment.
  • Meditation groups- creating a sense of inner peace is vital to recovery. Meditation groups allow patients to practice this skill under the guidance of experienced counselors.

Each of these groups is specifically designed to address a component of addiction treatment, from physical health to mental well-being. Patients who participate in these groups will have an opportunity to address their addictions among their peers in a healthy, supportive environment that promotes recovery. Every group at the Discovery Institute of New Jersey has been developed with the goal of helping patients learn how to function normally in their daily lives once they successfully graduate from treatment.

Individual Therapy vs. Group Therapy

As you begin to consider treatment, it’s best to learn more about what it entails. This includes the two main models of therapy for addiction: individual therapy and group therapy. Both of these approaches to therapy are important components of the treatment process. But, individuals should be aware of the differences between these two models and the benefits each one offers.

As the names suggest, individual therapy involves one individual and a therapist while group therapy involves multiple people and one or more therapists. So, the setting and environment of a therapy session will certainly vary depending on the type of therapy a person is involved in. However, both individual and group therapy offer people a safe and healthy space to speak about their experiences.

Another difference between individual therapy and group therapy can be seen in the topics of discussion. Sometimes, what a person may discuss in a one-on-one therapy session may be different than what he or she talks about in a group therapy meeting. 

Also, certain types of therapy approaches may be involved in one type of setting without being present in another. For example, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) may be an approach that is used in individual therapy. But, group therapy models may not rely as heavily on this approach. Instead, a group therapy meeting may involve focus group therapy.

At Discovery Institute, we prioritize individual treatment, but we also understand that recovery isn’t possible without support and help. That’s why we tailor our program to meet the needs of each individual patient who enters our program and provide therapeutic groups that help patients to learn to recover together.

Group Therapy at Discovery Institute

Depending on your treatment track, you may be introduced to different therapeutic groups than some of your peers. At Discovery Institute, we focus on helping each client individually. Since we offer an individualized and unique approach to treatment for each of our clients, depending upon your needs, some groups may be suggested while others may be mandatory.

We aim to provide our patients with a well-rounded approach to treatment in order to meet all of their needs, so your daily agenda of groups may differ slightly depending upon these specific needs.

Group therapy takes place daily, and much of the clinical portion of the day is dedicated to group-style therapeutic methods. In group therapy, clients are among their peers and can discuss topics that are relevant to addiction and recovery in order to process emotions and heal.

Each group is facilitated by a licensed, experienced therapist who is trained in assessing group dynamics and fostering healthy communication. This is to ensure that patients get the most benefit out of each group therapy session that they attend.

If you or someone you know could use some help overcoming substance dependence, please reach out to us today. We are willing and available to offer the help necessary in order to end addiction. Please allow us to assist you or your loved one by calling us right away. Our team is ready to answer your call.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.