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The Benefits of a Small Group During Addiction Treatment

A core part of recovery from substance use disorder (SUD) and mental health disorders is having a support network. The connections you build with other people, especially your peers in recovery, can provide companionship and role models and deepen your understanding of yourself. While group therapy can be beneficial on your recovery journey, small group therapy can offer an unmatched level of attention and care to support your long-term healing.

At Insight Recovery Center, our approach to patient-centered care is based on our commitment to the principles of love, service, and awareness. Our principles are made possible by serving the needs of the individual. However, you may be wondering what group therapy can do for you. How will small group therapy support you in your recovery?

What Is Group Therapy?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), group therapy is a therapy modality in which multiple people work with one or more healthcare providers to learn and practice strategies, build interpersonal skills, and develop social support networks with each other. Moreover, as noted in the book “Group Therapy” by Akshay Malhotra and Jeff Baker, group therapy can be used to treat disorders and conditions like anxiety, depression, trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and SUD.

Specific Groups

Group therapy is a common modality for SUD and mental health disorders. However, the goals and purpose of the group are molded by the specific needs of the individuals seeking support. Tailoring group therapy to the needs of specific groups of people can be an important piece in the recovery process. The inclusion of specific groups considers the impact different life experiences have on your needs in your recovery journey.

According to SAMHSA, listed below are some of the specific types of group therapy that can be used to support you in recovery:

  • Early recovery
  • Relapse prevention
  • Psychoeducation
  • Co-occurring health conditions
  • Psychological symptoms and mental health disorders
  • Culturally specific populations

Therefore, the idea of small group therapy can be seen as another means to hone in and support your specific needs.

Benefits of Small Group Therapy

According to a 2018 article on small groups from Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being Journal published in the Wiley Online Library, small group therapy has been used to promote personal change and improve health outcomes since the twentieth century. The basic benefits of small group therapy are the development of group spirit, social support, and shared hope for recovery. Therefore, over time small group therapy has made its way into a wide range of support services to offer better physical and mental health outcomes for people.

Small groups have fostered the following:

  • Therapeutic change
  • Personal growth
  • Development of interpersonal skills
  • Psychoeducation

While you can get lost in big group settings, small group therapy offers more space to dig in with more depth into the therapeutic factors that make up group therapy.

Therapeutic Factors

According to the 2022 StatPearl book, listed below are the twelve therapeutic factors that makeup group therapy like small group therapy:

  1. Universality: Realize there are other people who share similar thoughts, feelings, and issues
  2. Altruism: Improve your beliefs about yourself by helping others
  3. Instilling hope: You can envision your recovery by witnessing the success of others
  4. Imparting information: Gain knowledge from peers and clinicians
  5. Corrective review of family experiences: Recreate family dynamics in a controlled environment
  6. Development of socialization techniques: Learn healthy ways to interact with each other
  7. Observation of intimate behavior: Gain new insight and understanding by observing peers
  8. Cohesiveness: Experience feelings of support, trust, and belonging
  9. Existential: Recognize your responsibility for your life decisions
  10. Catharsis: Emotional release by sharing personal experiences
  11. Interpersonal learning: Through feedback, you gain an understanding of your interpersonal impact on others, and you learn how to create an environment in which everyone can learn
  12. Self-understanding: Learn to understand the unconscious factors that influence your behavior and emotions

Value of Smaller Group Sizes

Group therapy can provide you with a support system with peers who are going through similar things as you. While everyone’s experiences are different, you and your peers can share a common thread of understanding that reminds you that you are not alone. This small group of people becomes your sounding board in moments of distress and success. Your fellow group members can provide you with insight, ideas, and encouragement while faced with difficult situations.

In addition, to holding you accountable for your actions, a small group can offer you more clarity in regard to yourself simply by observation. Listening to others share their experiences with SUD or mental health disorders can improve your understanding of your own experiences and symptoms. It is difficult to step outside of yourself and gain understanding on your own, but your peers can act as a mirror reflecting the difficulties you deal with. Through that reflection, you are able to learn new strategies to tackle the challenges you encounter in your recovery.

Small Group Therapy at Insight Recovery Center

At Insight Recovery Center, we only have sixteen residents at a time, which allows us to offer a more intimate experience in small group therapy sessions. In typical group therapy settings, it can feel uncomfortable and overwhelming to share your life and experiences with strangers. However, with small group therapy, we provide the necessary space to go at your own pace as you learn to connect with yourself and others as you all take important steps toward healing as you discover your recovery together.

A support network is an important part of facing the isolation you can feel with substance use disorder (SUD) or mental health disorders. Through group therapy, you can build connections with your peers, get insight, and learn strategies to tackle challenges in your recovery. However, being surrounded by a large group of people can make you feel uncomfortable sharing, which diminishes the benefits of therapy. At Insight Recovery Center, we provide small group therapy because we know how important it is to find connection and understanding in recovery. With small groups, there is more space for you to deepen your connection with yourself and others. To learn how you can discover your recovery today, call us at 828.826.1376 .