Group therapy activities are commonly offered in addiction treatment programs. They provide a safe space for individuals new to recovery to examine themselves and their destructive behaviors in an intimate and welcoming atmosphere. People who participate often find that these activities provide them with new insights into factors that contribute to their addiction as well as interpersonal and meaningful experiences.
Moreover, such activities can be a valuable way for people to remind themselves that they are not alone. In fact, many addiction professionals consider them to be an essential element of recovery due to the sharing and bonding that occurs between peers. As SAMHSA puts it, “because human beings by nature are social beings, group therapy is a powerful therapeutic tool that is effective in treating substance abuse.”
Benefits of Group Therapy Activities
Loneliness, guilt, shame, and regret are often significant problems for those suffering from substance abuse. Group therapy activities encourage participants to connect with others who understand what it’s like to struggle with addiction and can be there to offer support. It can help individuals who have otherwise been anxious about therapy get an idea of how it works, and how prepared they really are to process their own experiences.
Group therapy is also a place where participants can learn new coping mechanisms and problem-solving skills. The incorporation of group therapy activities can complement any addiction treatment program and, as noted, are usually recognized as a vital part of the treatment process.
Who Leads Group Therapy Activities?
Group therapy groups should be facilitated by a trained leader who encourages discussion and asks each individual to participate actively. Other than mindfully leading the conversation, the group leader is responsible for identifying each individual’s issues that come up during group therapy as well as in everyday life.
Participants will often respond in group therapy sessions in a manner that represents their addictive patterns and thought processes, oblivious to the fact that they are doing so. For example, a person who is a habitual “people pleaser” might continuously validate the statements of other group members, yet keep their own experiences and ideas to themselves to evade conflict.
These situations are critical opportunities for the group facilitator to offer suggestions and insight into behavior that needs to be altered. Preparing individuals what to expect is a huge part of helping them become more welcoming to the idea of recovery. It also helps to relieve their worries and anxieties about the treatment process and how daunting they have assumed it would be.
Discussing Common Triggers
Being equipped to identify triggers is a skill that is an essential focus of all addiction treatment programs. Sometimes, working in the context of a group setting can help participants recognize these triggers. Also, it makes it possible for individuals to talk about them in-depth. Embracing the fact that they aren’t the only ones who must face these triggers is helpful for most people in recovery.
Examining Gender Roles
It’s often easy to overlook the fact that gender roles often play a significant part in how people react to certain situations. Unfortunately, gender stereotypes can cause people to repress their feelings and avoid sharing them with others. Group therapy activities can encourage participants to break free from these stereotypes and share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences more openly and honestly.
Many group therapy activities focus on relapse prevention. It can be beneficial for participants to discuss relapse openly without fear of judgment. It can help them remember the many negative consequences of abusing drugs or alcohol. In a group setting, people can also encourage one another to avoid relapse and examine practical ways of doing so.
Practicing Open Communication
Of the many aspects of group therapy, engagement in open communication is one of the most important. People in recovery must know how to express themselves in a manner that is clear and conclusive. Many group therapy activities include communication-building games that teach people the advantages of fruitful communication.
For example, one popular game involves participants sitting in a circular formation. Each individual receives a message that he or she must pass on to the person on their left. Eventually, the message is transferred around the entire room and back to the original person. The goal is to get the same message back to the participant at the end of the circle.
Discussing Role Models
Many individuals look up to role models that are people they know personally, academically, or professionally. However, some role models may be celebrities, athletes, or those who are very accomplished in their field and have achieved great success in life. It’s critical to discuss role models in a group setting. In doing so, people begin to learn that previous role models may not, in fact, be the best people to admire or seek to imitate.
Discussing the Importance of Self-Care
Discussing the importance of self-care in all areas of one’s life can help people understand that these practices are essential for promoting long-term recovery. They include healthy, productive habits, such as eating properly, exercising, and fostering a regular and restful sleep routine.
Participants can talk about nutritional goals and what they are doing to reach those goals. They can also explore their relationship with food and identify habits that they should either adopt or discontinue.
Similarly, by discussing exercise, participants can establish fitness goals and how they can achieve them. They can work on elements of an exercise regime and determine if it’s healthy or of additional work needs to be done.
Finally, by understanding the importance of sleep, participants can develop a sleep routine favorable to recovery. They can also ascertain if they have a healthy sleep pattern, and if not, what they can do to solve the problem.
Discussing Best and Worst Moments
Therapists seek to communicate the fact that personal judgments are very subjective and can be interpreted in various ways. Another activity commonly used by group therapy leaders is to ask members to identify what they believe to be the best and worst moments of their lives.
The leader and other participants will then ask each participant why these moments were either good or bad, and if they can find any associations or patterns between these experiences. People participating in this exercise often realize that there are seldom any moments that are “all good” or “all bad.”
This sometimes alarming revelation can help a person see how similar the “good” and “bad” occurrences in their lives often are, and that their judgment has been made subjectively. As a result, they realize that they may have been using faulty judgment and have, in some instances, been way too hard on themselves or others.
These are just a few of the many activities led by group activity leaders that can encourage participants to share their experiences and learn new ways of dealing with the pitfalls of addiction and recovery.
Start Group Therapy and Addiction Treatment Today
At Just Believe Recovery, we understand the importance of group therapy as part of a comprehensive addiction treatment approach, and therefore, we incorporate this modality into all of our programs. Moreover, you don’t have to struggle to overcome addiction alone. Using group therapy activities and other therapeutic methods, we can help you develop the coping skills you need to promote long-lasting sobriety and well-being.
Call us today if you are ready to end the cycle of addiction for life! We are committed to ensuring that the people we treat receive the very best care available, as well as the tools and support they need to reclaim healthier, more satisfying lives!