For decades there has been much debate about the best modality for treating addiction, even though they all have the same end goal: helping the patient find freedom from addiction. One of the most popular modalities over that time is talk therapy. Still, even within that category there are choices to be made. For example, is individual talk therapy or group therapy more beneficial for treating addiction? The truth is that each of them have their own benefits and limitations. That is why at Acqua Recovery we use a combination of individual and group therapy sessions, as well as a mixture of other modalities. So what are the differences and benefits that individual and group therapy have in overcoming addiction? Read on for more information.
Individual Therapy for Treating Addiction
Addiction & Mental Health Disorders
Individual therapy sessions are one-on-one sessions between the patient struggling with substance abuse and the addiction counselor or psychologist. This designated individual time allows for the focus of the therapy session to fall on just the patient, whereas in group therapy, the focus may be split between the individuals in the group.
Trauma & Addiction
One of the benefits of individual focus is the opportunity it affords the addict or alcoholic to learn and understand themselves — and their past traumas. Addiction is almost always fueled by an underlying trauma or mental illness, and individual therapy sessions allow the addict to work through their unresolved traumas, thereby becoming more aware of the actions they take in their everyday lives. At the same time, diving into the addict or alcoholic’s mental health issues in a focused way allows the therapist to identify more specific therapies that may benefit the individual. For example, the addiction counselor may utilize trauma therapy in their individual therapy sessions to help an addict work through past trauma and discover new coping mechanisms. Or, they may decide to involve a psychiatrist to explore a potential underlying mental health diagnosis.
Building Trust in Recovery
The intimate environment of individual therapy sessions also may make the addict or alcoholic more comfortable to let their guard down, exploring personal experiences that they may not feel comfortable discussing at a group level. This strengthens the therapist - patient relationship by allowing the therapist to help the addict or alcoholic find their individualized approach to recovery and a way to rediscover their life. For example, the therapist may analyze the client’s past family roles and childhood experiences to begin their healing. Individual therapy sessions also help build trust between the client and their therapist. For many people in addiction, trust is not a part of daily life. Building a trusting relationship with an advisor is a first step towards building healthy relationships in recovery.
Group Therapy for Addiction Treatment
Finding a Recovery Community
Therapy sessions in a group setting include more than one individual struggling with addiction and other mental health disorders. Conducted by an addiction counselor, group therapy differs from individual therapy in many ways, but it does have its own benefits, too. For example, group therapy may make the addict or alcoholic feel more at ease, since the “spotlight” isn’t just on them. Especially for people who may be resistant to treatment, this allows for their walls to come down. They may open up more to peers rather than to a therapist.
Most group therapy sessions are focused on a specific topic, which helps to keep everyone on task. While individual talk therapy is more geared to whatever the individual wants to discuss, having unique topics and outside perspectives in the mix can help individuals in group therapy explore new thoughts and emotions they had never considered before.
Rebuilding Relationships in Recovery
Substance abuse and addiction can often cause an individual to feel lost and disconnected in life and their relationships. Group therapy shows participants that they are not alone in their feelings and experiences. By listening to others share difficult emotions, and by sharing their feelings with others, addicts and alcoholics can relearn to trust and reconnect with others.
Learning New Skills in Addiction Recovery
Being in a group setting also allows those struggling with addiction to become more aware of how they listen to others. Listening is an important aspect of any relationship, and with group therapy, the individual begins to grow through communication and relationship skills. Through learning to listen better, the individuals may also make new discoveries about themselves and their pasts that align with others in the group.
How to Learn Boundaries & Communication
Group therapy doesn’t just help with listening; it also helps the individual learn how to communicate their emotions in a healthy way. A lot of addictions are fueled by trauma, which many addicts or alcoholics have spent years suppressing. In group therapy, they can learn to talk about their experiences in a healthy way. At the same time, they can begin to learn what feels safe and how to set boundaries. For example, instead of allowing another individual to talk over them in the group session and thinking they have no control over the situation, the addict can take control by politely letting the group member know they don’t appreciate being talked over - and to not do it again. For more information on trauma-fueled addiction and finding empowerment through language, click here.
Using Multiple Modalities In Addiction Treatment
At Acqua Recovery, we believe in using a recursive model for addiction treatment. This means that we gather information from our patients upon intake and when they leave, to assess our residential addiction treatment program. By doing this we are able to constantly update our program with the most beneficial modalities that have the highest success rates in addiction treatment.
We understand that not everyone’s path to recovery is the same and we help each individual find the best path for themselves. By combining group and individual therapy sessions as a part of our program, we believe our clients are able to reap the benefits of both modalities to enhance their personal program. To learn more about the many therapies we use, including experiential activities and holistic practices, click here.
Addiction is a complicated disease that requires a customized and sophisticated approach. At Acqua Recovery, our caring Masters-level clinicians understand the struggle of substance abuse — because they’ve been there too! Acqua is a sanctuary that provides a safe and welcoming environment to nurture addiction and its underlying mental health disorders. With a trauma-informed approach, group and individual therapy, and holistic practices, we can help you on your journey to reconnect and rediscover the beauty of life through recovery, so reach out to us today.
If you or a loved one struggle with substance abuse and don’t know where to turn, give us a call. Our caring admission team will help you take the first steps towards recovery.