The path to recovery from addiction looks different to everyone. For some people, having dedicated one-on-one sessions with a professional can yield the best results. For others, having a community of like-minded people at their fingertips can give them the motivation they need to continue down the road to sobriety.
When deciding which kind of therapy to engage in, there is a common wall put up that can prevent people from going for the group option from the beginning. The idea of being vulnerable in a social setting is very off-putting for some people. Combined with the guilt and shame that someone may feel regarding their recovery, they may decide that there is no way they could attend a group therapy session. However, group sessions have a number of powerful advantages that can be highly beneficial not only in the recovery process but in re-establishing social and life skills along the way.
The idea of “practicing voice” is foreign in a way, since talking isn’t something that tends to need too much practice. However, using one’s voice in this setting is more than just being willing to say words. It is an exercise in agency – voicing opinions that may cause discussions, or vocally expressing particular vulnerabilities. Raising one’s own voice in these settings is a practice for the “real world” that awaits outside when going through an intensive outpatient program.
Expressing one’s self allows them to better practice where they want their own life to go, and allows them a much-needed sense of control of their own life and the environment around them. Voice the key player in one incredibly important technique during recovery – the ability to say the word “no.” By identifying and expressing one’s self in a vulnerable state, they can practice true identity, realizing what they want and no longer want as a part of their life.
Developing Social Skills
The sense of isolation that plagues someone suffering from addiction can lead to the need for new social skills. The ability to interact safely and effectively to develop a supportive social circle is important, especially when someone is redefining how their lives will look outside of their unique addictions. Just like voice, social skills are more than just being able to talk to people. They are a focus on language and context in order to create meaning, as well as the use of body language and maintaining one’s own physical appearance to develop a healthier lifestyle in a holistic manner.
A Safe Space by Design
Attending a group therapy session inherently introduces someone to people who are in similar positions in regards to recovery. While expressing vulnerability is a difficult thing to confront, the atmosphere created by a group session is important in the experience. It is a place developed with support in mind, as there will be difficult times ahead. However, this is where group therapy shines the brightest.
Group therapy is a judgment-free space where mistakes that were made are expressed and left in the past in order to pursue a brighter future. Each person is permitted – if not encouraged – to express their own difficulties and the group as a whole comes together to learn and grow from each others’ experiences. Sharing in tough times as well as successful ones humanizes each and every person there. It benefits the group and ultimately strengthens each participant. Group therapy is also a safe space to engage in a conversation about what worked or didn’t work in the past few days. Most importantly, the safe space allows each person to glean new strategies from each other, learn new strategies, or try new hobbies. Seeing success in action is incredibly influential, and the space created by group therapy ensures that there is never a shortage of new ideas to try.
During recovery, it can be difficult to try to reset one’s life and make new friends in new social circles. We will likely want to let go of the past if the people there may lead to triggering events, so finding and developing new relationships is important. Group therapy presents a number of people who are in the same boat, all looking for new friends and acquaintances to spend time with without having to discuss where they can or cannot go during the recovery process. Everyone understands. Everyone has been there. And as a result, everyone is going to be sympathetic to the situation and wanting new relationships.
Group therapy can be intimidating. Meeting new people while in a vulnerable state is difficult, but opening up one’s self and giving it a try can turn those vulnerabilities into advantages. The social advantages and practicing of voice are paramount, not just during the recovery process but as part of necessary life skills for the years to come.
If you or a loved one are ready to seek help for addiction to drugs or alcohol and you’re considering an IOP, contact Lighthouse Recovery. With a new, modern take on sober living and intensive outpatient programs, Lighthouse understands the need for the individual to feel like an important member of a group. Championing the individual in a group setting creates a more holistic portrait of the recovery process as a whole, and gives each person the skills and education they need to live a healthy, sober life.