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Group Therapy for Addiction Treatment

Unlike individual therapy, which involves a licensed therapist and patient in a one-on-one setting, group therapy for addiction treatment is a form of communal talk therapy in which one or more therapists work with a group of individuals in the substance use recovery process. Group therapy sizes range between 5-20 clients with something in common, such as a particular condition or shared life experience.

Therapy groups meet regularly to discuss their challenges and feelings while supporting and relating to one another. It’s common for individuals to find comfort in group therapies as they engage in a social aspect of substance abuse treatment and feel less alone when sharing similar experiences with peers in their journey to addiction recovery. At Malibu Detox, our goal is to help our clients build a sense of community, support, and togetherness through group therapy sessions as they navigate addiction treatment.

Our experienced team employs numerous evidence-based therapies in our treatment program organized around various treatment models, such as psychoeducational groups, skills development groups, support groups, cognitive behavioral therapy groups, interpersonal process groups, relapse prevention training groups, and many other group treatment modalities. While our treatment center prioritizes the unique needs of every person, all clients participate in some form of individual and group therapy sessions. If you or a loved one are seeking addiction treatment or mental health services, we encourage you to call (424) 234-2027 to learn more about our group therapy for addiction treatment programs and explore additional treatment options.

The Four Stages of Group Therapy

Group therapy sessions are incorporated into treating substance abuse and mental health conditions in both inpatient and outpatient treatment plans. Under the guidance of a licensed and knowledgeable group therapist, group members participate in a structured or flexible dialogue, usually concentrated on a theme or distinct struggle. While each group therapy session is set up differently, there are generally four stages of participation and transformation during your time in therapy groups. As you build rapport with the group leader and participants, you will be able to work through each of these stages at your own pace.

Initial Stage: Forming

The formative stage occurs during your first few group sessions as you become oriented to the group process and learn the group rules. As you navigate group dynamics, you may hope to seek approval and acceptance from peers, making it challenging to be vulnerable and share deep issues. Depending on the nature of the therapy group, the group leader may take an active role in directing conversations and have a distinct plan or theme for each session or may encourage a free-form dialogue with periodic interventions.

Transition Stage: Storming

In the storming stage, participants may feel growing anxiety about being vulnerable and sharing their true nature and the difficulties they are facing. Due to growing anxiety, participants may become defensive, frustrated, and angry. Group members are starting to learn about each other’s personality types and communication styles, which can cause conflict, competition, and attention-grabbing. The treatment provider will encourage cohesion amongst group members and affirm any feeling of fear, keeping them from being vulnerable.

Cohesion Stage: Norming

The norming stage is considered the “progressive breakthrough” of the group therapy experience. At this point, the group has developed a sense of cohesion and has grasped how to work together. There is increased listening and a level of support and encouragement that did not exist in the previous stages. Members feel safer sharing controversial topics and life experiences with an expectation that other group members will collaborate and avoid judgment. The therapist may encourage feedback about something that was shared and acceptance of different viewpoints.

The Four Stages of Group Therapy

Our five drug and alcohol rehab centers located in Malibu provide a beautiful, serene and discreet environment to help individuals heal. It can be challenging to begin addiction treatment in a harmful environment with the presence of drugs and alcohol around. It can often take a new location with the help of licensed treatment specialists to uncover triggers, adapt positive coping skills, and heal from trauma and challenging past experiences.

Understanding Stage: Adjourning

The adjourning stage will occur at varying rates as each participant begins to finish their time in treatment. Group therapy sessions that involve an adjournment will often foster reflection on the relationships built and allow participants to share words of wisdom and aspirations for the adjourning group member. 

group therapy for addiction treatment

What Group Therapy for Addiction Treatment Helps With

Group therapy is a relevant treatment method for various substance use disorders and mental health conditions. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Substance Abuse Disorder
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Chronic Stress
  • Depressive Disorders
  • Personality and Mood Disorders
  • Panic Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Along with individual therapy, family counseling, and medication-assisted treatment, group therapy can be an important part of effectively treating substance abuse disorders and mental health conditions.

Different Group Therapy Types or Models

Group therapy is a general term for any therapy aimed at forming symptom reduction and recovery in two or more individuals. There are various models of group sessions that you may experience in drug and alcohol abuse treatment, such as:

  • Psychoeducational Groups: The main focus of a psychoeducational group is to educate and inform participants regarding overall themes of substance abuse, mental health, corresponding behaviors, and the effects of these behaviors.
  • Skill Development Groups: Skill development groups are set up similarly to a classroom where the group leader is positioned like a teacher would be while providing information specific to the group members’ unique needs. Skill development groups generally depend more on the interaction of the group members rather than the group leader speaking to them.
  • Support Groups: Support groups aim to offer care and compassion to group members from the group leader and other group members. The support group leader assists members in improving their interpersonal skills as they participate in group dialogue, share experiences, and help each other work through challenges.
  • Interpersonal Process Groups: Interpersonal process groups aim to facilitate healing in group members through the comprehension of psychodynamics (how people function psychologically). With a primary focus on emotional development and unresolved childhood events that led to poor decision-making and harmful coping skills, interpersonal process groups help resolve issues and improve a person’s judgment.
  • Group Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based psychotherapy that operates on the belief that negative thoughts and behaviors are learned and reinforced over time. To change these behaviors, the person must adopt positive thoughts and behaviors and learn to apply them to difficult situations in the future, such as those that contribute to substance use.

Many are surprised to discover that 12-step groups such as alcoholics anonymous or narcotics anonymous are not considered group therapy. While self-help groups greatly assist people struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, they are not to be confused with a professional group therapy option. Although they occur in a group setting similar to group therapy, the one component they lack is a professional facilitator. Group therapies utilize myriad types of substance abuse and mental health specialists to lead treatment groups. Self-help groups such as alcoholics anonymous or narcotics anonymous may employ peer leaders or have a collective approach to therapy.

As a high-quality behavioral healthcare center, there are strong benefits of group therapy in any model. The proficient and knowledgeable treatment team at Malibu Detox and Residential Treatment Centers will determine which group treatment practices are best for you based on your individualized substance abuse treatment program. Some treatment options may incorporate various group therapy models during group meetings, meaning they shift from one treatment model to another. Regardless of the group therapy model, there will likely be similar group rules for those who attend group therapy.

Benefits of Group Therapy Sessions for Addiction Treatment

The life-changing addiction treatment programs at Malibu Detox can include any number of services, including various types of therapies (individual and group therapy based). Clients may benefit from one kind of therapy over another; others may succeed in recovery by utilizing a mixture of addiction treatment options. While individual therapy involves a one-on-one approach to treatment, some people benefit more from group therapy services, and many benefit from using both individual and group therapy types. There are many benefits of group therapy, which can be a rewarding process for all involved:

Benefits of Group Therapy

Connection and Supportive Environment

Group therapy prevents the feeling of isolation by providing a space for conversation, encouragement, and support with other group members. The therapist will create prompts to allow participants to bond over shared issues or interests and allow collaborative problem-solving and support between group members. 


New Perspectives

When sharing problems and challenges in a group therapy setting, members may be encouraged to actively listen and provide feedback if asked. These group discussions can provide insight and new perspectives on a problem, keeping participants from stagnating or getting “tunnel vision” towards a specific challenge in their life.

Benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Improved Communication Skills

Group therapy helps bolster communication skills as it requires members to share their thoughts on conversation topics facilitated by a therapist. After sharing, members are encouraged to actively listen and give space for other members to share. If there is any confusion or need for clarification about something that was shared, there may be a prompt or encouragement for the person speaking to be clearer in their communication and find a new way to describe what was shared.

Benefits of Group Therapy

Empathy Building

Once an individual learns to communicate effectively in group therapy and feels heard, listened to, and validated in their emotions, it can foster empathy for the participant. The outward expression of empathy allows group members to feel a sense of value, worth and increased connection. 

Other benefits of group therapy include:

  • Education about the addiction recovery process, substance abuse treatment, relapse prevention, rendering medical advice, and more.
  • Help, encouragement, and peer feedback to overcome challenges and sustain addiction recovery goals.
  • Allow group members to observe problems others face in recovery and observe their problem-solving techniques.
  • Learn healthy coping mechanisms to handle stress without turning to drug abuse.
  • Increase structure and a healthy routine in the lives of members.
  • Create a sense of positiveness, self-worth, and confidence in the group members.
  • Build connections between members that can be used outside of substance abuse treatment for support and motivation.
  • Effectively treat multiple people simultaneously with one therapist, offering more immediate access to mental health and drug addiction therapy.
  • Employ therapeutic methods in treatment programs (such as challenging negative thoughts and confronting poor decision-making) to positively change behaviors.
group therapy for addiction

Take the Next Step Today With Malibu Detox

Our treatment centers offer comprehensive treatment modalities, such as group therapy and individual therapy facilitated by licensed and knowledgeable therapists. Our treatment programs serve as a catalyst for meaningful transformations, ultimately helping individuals achieve sustainable, long-term health and recovery.

If you are interested in attending group therapy or are uncertain if it’s the right treatment method, this can be explored with a treatment provider at Malibu Detox before committing to treatment. Depending on your individual treatment program, group psychotherapy may be conducted alongside individual therapy.

If you are struggling with substance use disorders and associated mental health conditions, we’re here to help. When you’re stuck in the cycle of substance use, you can experience hopelessness, isolation, and frustration. Reaching out for help and finding the right treatment program for you is a major first step in your recovery journey. Whether you need detox, medication-assisted treatment, residential treatment, dual diagnosis treatment, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, sober living, aftercare services, treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders, or relapse prevention services we can help. All substance abuse and mental health programs at our treatment centers in Southern California include individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, support groups, and mental health services.

Contact our Malibu, California, drug and alcohol rehab and detox center today at (424) 234-2027 to discuss your personalized addiction treatment plan. We accept most major and private insurance plans and will work with you to navigate your coverage to minimize out-of-pocket expenses. Our admissions staff looks forward to speaking with you.

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