How Can Group Therapy Benefit Those in Recovery?
There are many benefits of the group therapy process. One benefit of group therapy is the opportunity to be open and discover your potential in an atmosphere in which you can see through your blind spots. A group can help you see things that you have never realized before, which is an excellent start to a life of honesty and openness. Group therapy is a safe place to experiment with things a person has never tried before because new experiences can help you grow and learn.
Other benefits of group therapy include the realization that you are not alone in your fight against alcohol addiction, an opportunity to express fear, sadness, anger, or a feeling never expressed before with the support of others, an opportunity to talk to someone in a way you never have before, and the experience of trying new, healthy behaviors that lead to learning how to trust yourself and develop self-awareness by acknowledging your own unique abilities.
Group therapy allows you to experience relationships in a controlled, limited way, allowing for gentle exploration and self-expression. A group provides opportunities to try out new patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving with little danger of backlash or attack. Your established patterns of avoidance and non-confrontation can also be challenged and possible changed. You will begin to feel validated in making these changes and build some basic trust in yourself and others.
The Benefits of Sharing Your True Self
The learning or modeling component of group therapy will help you to learn from others and to visualize, remember, and consider the group’s support when you test new behaviors in “real life.” The most difficult contexts in which trust and intimacy can develop are close friendships and romantic relationships. People who have lived with addiction or survived abuse survivors often split into public and private selves. They have to learn to present an image to protect their “true-self” from hurt and abandonment. They develop this defense as a barrier to closeness in the process of healing. An intimate relationship or an emotional bond is impossible through the barrier of a “false-self.” When you remove this mask, a slow process of “check-share-check” in recovery allows them to slowly reveal parts of themselves in an honest way while maintaining a sense of safety.
The Benefits of Opening Up to a Group
In group, you can share your story. Firstly, this will help keep you honest and accountable in recovery and allows others to point out obvious and subtle behaviors by which you might neglect to take responsibility for your sobriety. Honest feedback allows a person to continue toward sobriety and discard self-defeating attitudes and behaviors they may not see in themselves.
Secondly, sharing your story with others may give you a new perspective on the events in your life. When you tell your story and listen to other people’s stories, you begin to see and understand your own experiences in new ways. In time, this new perspective gives you the freedom to make better choices in life. Thirdly, it is helpful to break through isolation and shame which block growth. You begin to gain a new group of friends who identify with your experiences and accept them unconditionally. You begin to chip away at the old red-tape, self-deception, and denial which sustain alcohol use disorders.
Additionally, people in recovery in group therapy often find that telling their story lifts an enormous burden from their hearts. To tell one successful lie, a person must cover up one lie with more lies. This effort requires more energy and attention than if the person had told the truth in the first place. Furthermore, to be honest about oneself is to shed illusions, because when someone tells their story it sets them free from the tyranny of a self-centered personality. That person is then able to rebuild and make new relationships.
Finally, telling your truth has lasting value which is impossible to see you’re using alcohol. With alcohol, every day looks a lot like the last, sometimes worse. There’s no past, no value in the present, and certainly no future. When a person tells a truthful story about their life, they own the past, take joy in the present, and look forward to the future.
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