During their time in addiction treatment, clients at The River Source take part in individual, family and group therapy. Clients are often unsure of how to make the most of group therapy, however, mostly because they have withdrawn from people and have forgotten how to interact with others. Meeting in a group setting and talking about their emotions is therefore very difficult.
Each type of therapy benefits addicts in its own way, and group therapy is no exception. Here are some tips for making group therapy work for you.
Tips to Make the Most Out of Group Therapy
Focus on the Here and Now
One thing you will learn during your stay in recovery is to take things one day at a time. You may be feeling overwhelmed, but use your time in group therapy to focus on the here and now. Don’t worry about what tomorrow may bring, and don’t focus on negative events from the day. Observe your surroundings, take comfort in the people you are with and be grateful for the progress made in recovery.
Be Open and Honest
Part of group therapy is being open and honest, so you will be asked to be as open as possible about your feelings. Try your best, even if you can’t make sense of them quite yet. The goal is to be accepting and compassionate to your thoughts and feelings instead of critical or judgemental. Being harsh on yourself has a negative impact on self esteem and leads to avoidance.
Avoid Giving Advice
Group therapy is designed to create a safe, accepting place that is free from judgement and criticism. This is the first place where many addicts learn to open up and interact with others in a positive way, something that hasn’t been done in years perhaps. With this in mind, be careful about giving advice. You can offer feedback, share your own experiences or explain how you dealt with a particular situation, but giving advice can feel demeaning. If you are about to give advice, make sure that you have listened to the person and fully understand their situation.
Share Negative Thoughts
As humans, we are careful about the thoughts and emotions that we share. That’s because we follow social rules. For instance, if you have violent thoughts going through your mind, you probably wouldn’t feel comfortable about sharing these thoughts with a friend. They may view you as being violent or sick in the head. But, when it comes to group therapy, group rules are followed. It’s important to share all feelings, even ones that are messy and negative. You won’t be judged, and there are probably reasons for why these inner thoughts are surfacing.
When you truly open up, you’ll make yourself vulnerable. It’s difficult to let your guard down, especially when you’re learning to interact with others again, but this is what leads to greater self disclosure and healing. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable; let yourself cry, get angry and feel your emotions. This clears your conscious and allows you to progress in your recovery.
Over time, you may find that you feel more connected to certain people in the group. Maybe you notice changes in their hairstyle or clothing. Or perhaps you feel more comfortable talking with them. Explore these relationships and place a priority on them. Practice being emotionally available with these people as they express their own emotions.
You don’t need to be polite in group therapy. It’s better to be direct and honest about your intentions in order to grow in your recovery. Instead of telling stories or monologues, be truthful about your feelings. Rather than asking vague questions to others, be direct in what you want to know or learn. The objective is to create intimate dialogue with the members in your group rather than putting up a wall.
Group therapy is an important part of the recovery process. Unlike individual therapy, it forces you to share time with others and move along with the group, even when things start to move quickly. It encourages you to work on your listening skills and further develop meaningful interaction with other people. To make the most of group therapy, follow the above tips and be aware of your experiences during meetings.