There are many avenues proven to benefit recovery from addiction, group therapy being a key component of most treatment approaches. In my experience, I have had the privilege to see firsthand the power of group therapy. Three factors come to mind, as to why groups drive the healing process in recovery: Validation, Perspective, and Connection.
- Validation is a significant factor in the recovery process. Feeling as though our experiences are acknowledged by those around us, facilitates an individual moving to a place of acceptance. Group therapy allows us the opportunity for just that. Individuals are given a safe place to share their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, open-up about their experiences, and receive acknowledgment from their peers. Universality is the foundation of validation, one of Yalom’s therapeutic factors, recognition, and feeling that you are not alone.
- Building on this foundation is the opportunity to open the door to Perspective. In telling our stories and sharing experiences in a group setting, individuals are provided a forum to examine and challenge viewpoints, promoting the development of insight. Receiving feedback and support from other group members, all in varying stages of the recovery process, allows for the exchange of hope.
- Finally, and arguably the most beneficial piece of group therapy is Connection. According to British journalist, Johann Hari, “The Opposite Of Addiction Is Not Sobriety. The Opposite Of Addiction Is Connection.” Through group therapy, individuals can foster relationships and build connections, developing cohesiveness and trust. Through each connection developed, individuals encounter altruistic exchanges, which encourage a sense of purpose and worth.
Recovery is a journey, a process of internal healing at a time when one is most vulnerable. Group therapy provides individuals a safe environment to let their guards down and feel empowered to begin this process. Validation, perspective, and connection are just three components fueling the strength found in group therapy.
Author: Nicole Ehrhardt, LPC, LCADC, NCC – Footprints to Recovery – Clinical Supervisor