At MARR, group therapy is a core component of the treatment that we provide for our clients. A common saying in 12 Step fellowships is “the disease of addiction thrives in isolation.” For this reason, the connection facilitated in therapy groups helps lay the groundwork for lifelong recovery.
SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, states that group therapy can be more effective for treating substance abuse than individual therapy. In a report on groups in addiction treatment, they write, “One reason for this efficacy is that groups intrinsically have many rewarding benefits—such as reducing isolation and enabling members to witness the recovery of others—and these qualities draw clients into a culture of recovery.”
Groups at MARR take several forms, including psycho-educational groups, interpersonal process groups, and skill development groups.
12-Step Immersion Groups
Life Story Group – Clients begin Phase I by presenting their Life Story to introduce themselves to the other clients and staff.
Step 1 Inventory Group – As part of this group, clients develop and share examples demonstrating their powerlessness over their disease. Sharing this list in a group drives home the reality of what their addiction has driven them to.
Step 2 and 3 Group – This group addresses the question: “Now that I know I’m powerless, what do I do about it?” As a group, the clients help one another see what gets in the way of surrendering to a higher power.
Spirituality Group – The Spirituality Group includes clients and outside volunteers who often do not have a history of substance abuse. The intention is to help clients address how they either turn toward or away from their higher power. The group focuses on using the principles behind the 12 Steps as the framework for addressing issues that come up in their lives.
Groups Developing Life Skills
Relapse Prevention Group – In Relapse Prevention, clients look at the patterns of their behavior and emotional triggers that have led to them using substances in the past. This examination allows them to understand what leads up to relapse and design a plan to respond appropriately.
Life Skills Groups – Clients participate in psycho-educational and therapy groups designed to provide them with the necessary everyday skills. These help them resist pressure to use mind- or mood-altering substances.
Community Groups – Community Groups facilitate discussion about community issues. In these groups, clients process requests for therapeutic leaves, phone privileges, and car privileges. Participating in these groups helps the clients practice collaborating and working through difficulties with others.
Weekend Planning/Weekend Wrap-Up Groups – On Fridays, clients create a structured plan for their weekend. On the following Monday, clients then discuss how it went. This helps the clients prepare for life after treatment and also provides them with a healthy space to work through issues and conflicts from the weekend.
Group Therapy Helps Free Us from Shame
Isolation and shame form a powerful team in sustaining the disease of addiction. Shame thrives in secret. Groups an ideal format to expose and provide relief from the lies that shame tells people in addiction and early recovery.
Groups provide constant opportunities and encouragement to open up about past experiences and, in the process, connect with others. In addition, the work clients do in MARR helps them realize that they are not alone.
In fact, clients usually find that weaknesses, when addressed, can become great assets and sources of connection with others.