There is an ancient Buddhist proverb that reads, “Through true honesty, deeply believe that all sentient beings are one. That all beings have the same true nature, wisdom, and virtue.” Individuals struggling with active addiction often have no sense of this oneness, or more aptly called here; community. In recovery, a sense of community and fellowship can be gained through group counseling sessions.
The Benefits of “Shared Experience” in Recovery
The primary text (also known as the “Big Book”) of Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) has a chapter that is wholly devoted to working with others in recovery. In fact, it is aptly titled, Working With Others. This chapter is very clearly about the importance of working with other people in recovery.
The chapter states, “Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail. This is our twelfth suggestion: Carry this message to other alcoholics! You can help when no one else can.” What this means is that people in recovery are “uniquely qualified” to help others because they have been through it themselves.
Now, this concept of service is not relegated to direct work with other people in recovery. Part of service is simply being involved and being open and honest when sharing our addiction (and recovery) stories. This is also what happens in addiction group counseling sessions.
What Exactly Are Group Counseling Sessions?
A crucial part of recovery can be found in “community integration.” This is because, as they often say in 12-Step recovery, “This is a We program, not a Me program.” It is the “It takes a village approach.
Group counseling sessions (also known as group therapy in some professional circles) offer safe spaces for people to connect with others in recovery, share their stories, and see and show what successful recovery looks like. Now, to some, this may sound like a “traditional” recovery meeting (e.g. a 12-Step meeting), but the presence and guidance of a licensed specialist make it more of a therapeutic process and treatment.
What Are the Benefits and Limitations of Group Counseling Sessions?
As with any type of treatment modality, group therapy sessions have both benefits and limitations. Some of the benefits are as follows:
- They offer support from both professionals and recovery peers
- Helps alleviate the loneliness that both addiction and early recovery can bring about
- Offers a chance for individuals to share what they are feeling in a safe and healthy space, free of judgment
- Helps people understand what it means to have “shared experiences” of addiction, and realize that their past issues are actually an asset to help others in recovery
- Group therapy can help people create an effective and expansive “sober network,” which can be utilized if someone is ever feeling triggered outside of the recovery center
As previously mentioned there are also some limitations to group counseling sessions. These limitations include:
- Some people feel that they don’t receive enough attention from the therapist when they are part of a group
- There is a chance that some people will try and “fade into the background” as other people participate more
- People may feel somewhat exposed, and thus be reluctant to share as openly and honestly
- There is less flexibility, as people have to adhere to the schedule of the entire group
- Some people feel that they are simply too shy to participate fully
Now, notice that the benefits often apply to the entire group, while the limitations tend to apply to personal preferences. This is okay. Group counseling sessions are not for everyone. the key is to find what works and stick with it. Also, be open to other types of treatment.
The Importance of Comprehensive Treatment Plans at Lantana Recovery
Here at Lantana Recovery, we do not believe in “one-note” or “quick-fix” treatment plans. We believe in comprehensive individualized treatment plans that utilize as many modalities as needed for optimal recovery. This includes group counseling sessions. But, it also includes treatment options like physical and holistic healing, 12-Step meetings, individual therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and medication management.
There is another Buddhist proverb that goes, “No one will reach enlightenment until the last blade of grass has reached enlightenment.” What this means is that we are all in this thing called life together and we must help each other succeed. This is especially true when it comes to recovery.
Here at Lantana Recovery, we adhere to the “Responsibility Statement” of recovery that was established in a meeting of over 100,000 like-minded recovered alcoholics nearly 60 years ago. It goes, “I am Responsible. When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of [recovery] always to be there. And for that: I am responsible.” At Lantana Recovery, our hand will always be there whenever anyone is ready to take it and heal.
Group counseling sessions are just one of the treatment options offered at Lantana Recovery, and they can be particularly effective for those trying to recover from issues of addiction and/or mental illness. This is because they offer the opportunity for clients to relate to others in recovery. Also, group counseling offers the opportunity for service and cultivating a sober network that can be beneficial throughout long-term recovery. If you feel like you or a loved one may be struggling with issues of addiction and/or mental illness, we can help you and those around you heal and recover. For more information on the benefits of group counseling sessions, please reach out to Lantana Recovery today at (866) 997-2870.