The Authentic Recovery Center is a dual diagnosis treatment center located in Los Angeles, California. If you would like to learn more about our program call 1 877 415 4673 now.
This section of the website discusses group therapy and outlines why group therapy is offered during the treatment process. We will also point out the importance of individual therapy being provided parallel to the group modality.
The Origin of Group Therapy
Most historians trace the beginning of organized group therapy to J.H. Pratt in 1905. At that time, Pratt was holding general-care instruction classes for recently discharged tuberculosis patients when he noticed the impact of this experience on their emotional states. He documented his findings and is widely considered the father of the group therapy construct.
Then in 1925 psychoanalyst Trigant Burrow became dissatisfied with individual psychoanalysis, and began experimenting with group techniques. Burrow hoped to decrease the authoritarian position of the therapist, and to more thoroughly examine interpersonal interactions.
Later in the 1930’s the application of group therapy methods to prison inmates and discharged mental hospital patients was pioneered by Paul Schilder and Louis Wender. Around this period group therapy began to be viewed as particularly useful in the treatment of foster children and troubled adolescents. The fact that group modalities began to be offered as a form of therapy to children in less than 40 years after is was devised is an indication of how quickly acceptance of the methodology grew.
The development of group therapy was given real impetus during World War II; as a result of the large number of soldiers requiring treatment for was known as “shell shock”. This is what we know as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
The conclusion of the war also introduced the American public to a new group modality designed to support alcoholics. This program was centered on a 12-step process that facilitated a support network for newly sober individuals and provided them with action steps that once taken, would create a new behavioral framework for living life sober.
Over the course of the next 50 years, with the apparent success of this 12-Step program, and the documented success of clinically-based group therapy for the treatment of trauma and social disorders, drug and alcohol treatment centers began to mold the group format into what has become accepted today as a proven treatment method for treating alcoholism, chemical dependency, substance abuse and co-occurring disorders.
Why is Group Therapy Important in Treatment?
Group therapy is important in treatment because of several factors:
- Groups allow people who have typically been isolating to begin to interact with others.
- Groups allow people who have been living silently to speak and be heard.
- Groups allow people to normalize their experiences through a set of shared circumstances.
- Groups allow people to learn how to communicate better with others.
- Groups allow people to learn how to resolve conflicts productively.
- Groups allow people to support one another.
- Groups allow people to learn how to verbalize asking for help.
- Groups allow people to receive feedback about themselves from others.
- Groups allow people a forum to learn about important topics.
- Groups allow people to develop the ability to cope with emotional vulnerability.
There are many other positive aspects of group therapy, but the above list outlines a few of the most important ones.
The Challenges with Group Therapy
Like many things, while there are positive aspects of group therapy there are also a few drawbacks.
A few of the challenges with group therapy are:
- It can be difficult for people to access their feelings in a group because of self-consciousness.
- It can be tough for people to feel comfortable enough to speak up in group settings.
- Sometimes people don’t want to share intimate aspects of their lives on a group level.
These are some of the most commonly expressed concerns that people have about group therapy. These areas of concern are also usually where people have the most to discover about themselves.
Essentially, most people attempt to anesthetize the same types of feelings that result from the above group situations with alcohol, drugs or prescription medications.
By exploring what is at the root of their discomfort then that person will have the opportunity to develop new coping mechanism and prevent themselves from feeling compelled to relapse in the future. There is one important caveat to this though, and we outline that in the next section.
In the Treatment Setting Group Therapy Works because of Individual Therapy
It is important to recognize that by working though the problems people have in groups with individual therapy, the pathway to resolving personal issues begins. A key ingredient in successful treatment is creating the forums for people to discover their issues.
Groups actually create the material for powerful discussions in one on one therapy. Without groups it would be a really slow road to getting to the root issues, but with groups these issues move rapidly to center stage.
One of the most effective aspects of group therapy is individual therapy. One of the most important aspects of individual therapy is group therapy. They work best in parallel.
Group Therapy Needs to be Counterbalanced with One on One Therapy
Most treatment centers offer group therapy. The key to determining whether or not the program will be effective or not is to verify how many individual therapy sessions they offer. At the Authentic Recovery Center we offer 3-5 one on one sessions each week. This is a good number of sessions that counterbalances the group treatment process.
Call to Speak with a Dual Diagnosis Counselor Today
If you would like to learn more about how our programs work, call 1 877 415 4673 now. Our staff will help answer all your questions about dual diagnosis treatment or to explain more about our treatment philosophy.