The Benefits of Group Therapy

By Nicki Line LMHC, LAPC, CST

Have you ever wondered what group therapy is, or what the point of group treatment would be for you? Depending on the issue, joining a group can be a helpful choice for making positive life changes.
Group therapy is a form of therapy where a small, selected group of people meet with a therapist, usually weekly. The purpose of group therapy is to help each person with emotional growth and problem solving. Sometimes a person can do both individual and group therapy, while others may only do a group.

According to Dr. Irvin Yalom in his book The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy identified 11 curative factors that are the “primary agents of change” in group therapy:

1. Installation of Hope: People come to a group to improve their lives. Each person in the group is at a different place in their emotional growth and can offer hope and inspiration to others by showing what they have learned and overcome.

2. Universality: Many who begin group therapy may feel isolated and alone. Being part of a group can help people feel understood and have a sense of belonging. Especially if you are apart of a small niche population such as sex work.

3. Information Giving: A big part of many therapy groups is increasing knowledge of a common problem. This helps members help themselves and others with the same or similar problems.

4. Altruism: The ability to help others in the group is a source of self esteem and increases self worth, especially in those that do not  think they have anything to offer others.

5. Corrective recapitulation of the primary family: Some people in group therapy may have stress or conflict in their family. The group can become a form of a family that can offer support and acceptance.

6. Improved Social Skills: Social learning, or the development of social skills, is something that occurs in therapy groups. Members offer feedback to each other about their behavior in ways that can improve relationships both in and outside of group.

7. Imitative Behavior: The therapist models appropriate prosocial behaviors such as active listening, non-judgemental feedback, and support. Over the course of the group the members can pick up on these behaviors and integrate them into their own behaviors. This can lead to improved social skills and self esteem.

8. Interpersonal Learning: Being a group can be an opportunity for members to work on their ability to relate to others and improve relationships.

9. Group cohesiveness: Wanting to belong to a group a main motivation for human behavior. Group therapy can help people feel accepted and valued. This is an important healing factor if members have felt isolated.

10. Catharsis: The release of conscious or unconscious feelings gives members a great sense of relief. Yalom states that it is a type of emotional learning, as opposed to intellectual understanding, that can lead to immediate and long lasting change.

11. Existential Factors: Groups can explore and process issues such as death, isolation, and meaninglessness and help them accept difficult realities.

Joining a group of strangers can seem intimidating at first, however, joining a group can provide benefits that individual therapy alone may not, such as providing a support network. Other group members can help formulate solutions and hold each member accountable for change. Also talking with and listening to others can help put problems in perspective. Others may share similar struggles and give each member the experience that they are not alone. Diverse feedback is another benefit of participating in a group. Each members’ personality and background can help examine problems in different ways. Members can learn many different strategies for tackling issues.

Alcoholism and Marriage: Does it go together?

According to statistics, more than one half of families in US have an individual who are abusing alcohol or addicted to it. Be it the husband or the wife, the effects of it on a marriage can be damaging. SO, what are some of the effects of it?

It causes anger. Imagine having all the tension simmering under the guise of a happy marriage. As the saying goes, still water runs deep. Heavy alcohol use does not yield warm communication. It yields more negative and hostile communications. There is more hostility in everyday conversation and all these factors decrease the couple’s satisfaction in the marriage.

There’s marital distress. Negative and hostile communication yields to marital distress in the non-alcoholic spouse. It adds to the strain and the tension of the marital ties. There is less problem solving, more damaging communication. The problem just keeps on piling up. This may lead to a greater potential of marital violence or divorce.

Being absent in the family. The alcoholic spouse is constantly absent in the family. They are unable to shoulder everyday family responsibility or daily household tasks. This inability leads to a diminished role in the family as a husband or a wife to the non alcoholic spouse and as a father or a mother to the children.

Physiological distress on the family especially the children. An alcoholic father or mother figure increases the children’s social, emotional, behavioural and academic problems.

Marital violence. The more men are frequently intoxicated, the more likely they are to vent their anger on their wives. Alcohol abuse is linked to increased aggression and more physical violence as their ability for rational thinking is reduced. In addition, the intoxicated spouses are more likely to act on impulse and unable to exert self-restraint.

In conclusion, no good can come out of it. Alcoholism and marriage are like oil and water. Both can never mix.

Alcohol Addiction: Debunking the Myth

Many people have their beliefs about alcohol addiction. However, most of these beliefs stem from a lack of experience, understanding and perhaps tolerance.  So let us correct some of these common misconceptions.

Myth 1: Addiction is only a bad habit and the only reason addicts can’t quit is because they have no willpower.

At the start of drinking, perhaps it could be a voluntary decision. Consider it a much needed respite from work, bills, relationship and all the drama. However, the more they choose to turn to it, the more dependent they become on it to relieve stress and in the end, they become addicted. This addiction happens because alcohol alters the brains and now the alcohol is in control of the addict.

Myth 2: Addicts are people with mental problems.

The statement is untrue. Addicts began as normal people who only started on one or two drinks to relieve stress. The more they seek this as an outlet, the more addicted they become. As we said in myth #1 alcohol alters the brain, creating a need in the user to be drinking all the time. This leads to bad life decisions.

Myth 3:  Treatment never works. Look at how many people relapse

The public thinks, that it will be easy to quit alcohol cold turkey however it is not that easy. The rehabilitation of alcoholics or treatment for them is not a one size fit all. The programme has to be tailored to suit the needs of the alcohol addicts. Different individuals have different issues that they are dealing with and they also respond differently to various treatment.

Myth 4: The addict has to be willing to quit for treatment to be effective.

Most of the time, they do not want treatment. They only seek treatment because they were ordered by the court or they were referred by concerned family members. Wanting to quit has little effect on the effectiveness on the treatment.

Myth 5: Addicts are a lost cause once they relapse.

Getting off the addiction is easy. Staying off it is difficult. Relapsing does not mean hitting rock bottom. It could be used as a positive thing by analyzing why the individual relapsed, what trigger that triggered the event and learn to avoid it next time. These are a few of the myths of alcohol addiction. The knowledge of this alone will help you be a better friend to those in need.

 

How to Quit Drinking WITHOUT Full Abstinence

You may have a problem with drinking but may be too embarrassed to enter an AA meeting. Here a few simple steps to help you kick the habit without going full turkey.

Firstly, as cliché as it may sounds, acknowledge that you have a problem. You need to first accept that you are an alcoholic. Then we can proceed to the next step. You need to understand why you drink. Do you start drinking when you had a bad day at work? You have an argument with your spouse? Identify the little triggers that set you off and have a game plan of what you will do when faced with that trigger. Be it, when having an awful day at work, going for a spa or a massage or calling a friend out for a coffee. Know your triggers and know yourself.

Secondly, commit yourself to the goal of ridding yourself free of alcohol. You are a smart human being who does not need alcohol to function. Yes, it may be difficult for you to get through the day at first. Do not listen to the little cravings or little commands that your brain sends to you demanding for alcohol. You are the master of yourself. You have lived once before and functioned perfectly well without alcohol. There is no reason you could not do it again. Make your mantra: I will quit for good. Repeat it to yourself every time a trigger presents itself to you.

Thirdly, learn to say NO. If a friend asks you out for a drink, be absolutely ready to be firm in your reply. Say no thanks, I’m quitting. Tell your friends of your intentions and tell them that you need them to be there for you. If you have to avoid your group of drinking friends for a certain period of time, do that. Tell them you are not burning bridges, you are just trying to quit alcohol. They will respect you for it and help you in your road to sobriety.

Fourthly, be patient. Enjoy your recovery from your addiction and do not be afraid if you relapsed. If you relapsed once, that does not mean you will fall all the way down and hit rock-bottom. It takes time and patience. Do not be hard on yourself if you relapsed after a certain period of time. After that relapse, say to yourself, I will try harder and this time I will succeed.

Most of all, remember that you are doing all these for yourself and your family. These should be the biggest motivation and inspiration of all to keep on moving forward.

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