If we haven’t experienced group therapy firsthand, we probably have a pretty inaccurate and dramatized conception of what to expect. We tend to base our hypotheses on what we have seen portrayed in the movies and on television – a solemn circle of disturbed sickos, sharing secrets, crying, and hugging one another with uncomfortable intensity. As it turns out, this representation is not altogether too far off. However, the experience of group therapy is not as scary at you may be making it out to be, and the benefits are both extensive and crucial to prolonged and meaningful sobriety.
The Importance of Gender-Specific Group Therapy
If you are attending inpatient addiction treatment for the first time, you should expect that the majority of your stay will consist of group therapy sessions in one form or another. Many of these sessions will be facilitated by a licensed therapist, and will revolve around pertinent recovery and addiction-related topics, such as: relapse prevention, dual diagnosis disorders, trauma, and healthy relationship building. Because group therapy sessions require individuals to open up honestly about highly personal topics they may not normally discuss, gender-specific addiction treatment proves extremely beneficial. Therapists will work to uncover underlying causes of substance dependency in group settings. In many cases, underlying causes are directly tied in to past emotional, sexual, and physical trauma. A large percentage of women suffering from addiction and alcoholism underwent some form of significant sexual trauma at some point in their lives – usually at the hands of a member of the opposite sex. Because of this, women usually find it far easier to openly discuss personal matters in a group of compassionate and same-gendered individuals. On the other hand, many men have a hard time openly discussing painful experiences and deep-seated emotional distresses in the presence of members of the opposite sex, usually because societal gender roles disallow men from conveying what they mistakenly view as ‘weakness’. If you are looking into an inpatient treatment facility for yourself or your loved one, be sure to look into gender-specific options for the best possible results.
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Different Types of Group Therapy Sessions
You will likely be exposed to a multitude of group therapy sessions, many varying in structure and intention. Take a look at some standard session formats in order to help further familiarize yourself with what to expect.
- Therapeutic group discussions.
Group discussions will be facilitated by a single licensed addiction therapist or a group of licensed clinicians, and will allow clients to openly discuss recovery-related issues in a safe and supportive environment.
- Relapse prevention courses.
Therapists and the team of licensed addiction specialists will facilitate groups geared towards the installation of relapse prevention techniques. Clients will be taught healthy coping mechanisms, how to deal with potentially triggering situations, and what steps to take in case they feel their recovery is ever being compromised. They will also be instilled with a ‘spiritual toolkit’ of tools to employ throughout their recovery in order to protect their sobriety.
Clients will employ role playing, self-depiction, and dramatization to take a further look into their own lives. Acting out specific events helps clients to relive, address, and heal on a deep and thorough level.
- Meditation and spirituality.
Spirituality classes will focus on the role of spiritual connectedness in addiction recovery, and are geared towards teaching clients to bolster a connection with a higher power of their understanding through mediation, prayer, and certain holistic methods of healing.
- Introduction to the 12-step method of recovery.
Clients will be introduced to the literature of Alcoholics Anonymous and will be exposed to in-house meetings, typically brought in by members of outside groups. In some cases, clients will be transported to outside meetings.
- Life skills.
Clients will be instilled with basic and pertinent life skills, such as communication, healthy boundary setting, the job application process, self-care, and healthy relationship building.
If you are looking into an inpatient treatment program, be sure to ask about the group therapy sessions the specific program has to offer. The incorporation of therapeutic healing in a group environment is essential to early recovery, seeing as ‘group therapy’ (by way of Alcoholics Anonymous or another 12-step fellowship) will be a necessary maintenance tool for years to come. For more information on the Lighthouse group therapy model, please contact one of our trained representatives today.