A holistic addiction treatment program involves a variety of traditional and complementary therapies that take place in individual and group settings. Solo and group therapy advantages are different, and each has distinct benefits that help people recover from an addiction for the long-term. Group therapy in particular helps prevent relapse, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Principles of Effective Treatment.

How Individual Therapy and Group Therapy Work

Individual therapy in treatment is essential to identify essential needs and for helping individuals work through their unique issues. Solo therapy takes place with a licensed therapist in a one-on-one setting. The therapist leads the client to identify and change self-destructive thought and behavior patterns and to develop essential missing coping skills.

During group therapy, a licensed therapist works with a group of five to fifteen clients. The therapist creates a safe environment for sharing and guides discussion to keep it productive. Group members share experiences and work together to help each other gain insight and solutions to their problems and apply lessons learned.

Models of Group Therapy

The most common types of group therapy used in addiction treatment include:

  • Psychoeducational groups that helps patients learn about the mechanics of addiction and recovery.
  • Skills development groups that develop skills, strategies and techniques to prevent relapse.
  • Cognitive-behavioral groups that work on changing destructive thought and behavior patterns.
  • Support groups where members support one another in making healthy changes in their lifestyle, behaviors and thought patterns.
  • Interpersonal process groups where members evaluate past experiences in the present moment and re-think their problems in the context of sobriety.

Each model of group therapy draws on general group therapy advantages to help members create real and meaningful change in their lives.

Group Therapy Advantages

Key group therapy advantages include:

  • Accountability. Group members in therapy hold each other accountable for their actions both inside and outside of therapy and for attendance and participation in the group. This accountability ensures everyone gets the full benefits from each group session.
  • Reduced isolation. Recovering from an addiction can be isolating, and feelings of isolation are a major trigger for relapse. Group therapy promotes feelings of belonging and trust as group members identify with and develop close, healthy relationships with one another within the context of the group.
  • Hope. Hope and the belief that a better future is possible is the foundation of recovery, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Group members instill hope in one another through sharing experiences, celebrating milestones and offering support during challenging times.
  • Shared strategies. During group therapy, members share essential skills, strategies, and techniques that help them navigate their lives sober. They can also highlight helpful resources for solving a variety of life problems.
  • Skills practice. As group therapy progresses, it provides members with a safe and supportive place to practice the communication, listening and other social skills they’re learning.
  • Social networking. Developing a network of sober friends and acquaintances is a major boon to successful recovery. Group therapy extends an individual’s social and support network.

Group therapy advantages are particularly far-reaching when an individual also takes part in solo or family therapy. The benefits of group therapy go a long way toward helping members sustain abstinence, and it should be an integral part of any high-quality inpatient or outpatient treatment program.