One is the Loneliest Number: Why Group Therapy Works

When we are suffering, it’s easy to feel isolated which can make our negative thoughts appear far worse. It almost seems like no one else in the world can relate to us. We begin to shut down and believe this is the way life has to be. But this narrative isn’t real; this is how mental illness manifests. It tries to trick us into thinking we are alone, and no one will ever be able to understand us and help us.

Group therapy can change all of that and help us realize that even if we are struggling with vastly different issues than others in our lives, the underlying feelings of pain, depression, anxiety, and fear are all the same. We may not have the same story as the person sitting next to us, but when we are battling addiction of any kind, we are all battling the same feelings.

What is Group Therapy?

You may have seen the stereotypical group therapy scene in a movie where someone stands up and says, “My name is Joe, and I’m an alcoholic.” While it may feel weird to hear, this is a typical part of most group therapy archetypes. Why? Because it’s important to get it all out on the table so you can work together as a group to create a safe space that will foster healing. Before you can make any changes in your life, you have to acknowledge the problem. Saying it out loud is the first step in shifting perspective and changing your life.

In group settings, there is usually one leader who helps moderate dialogue and gives the group something to focus on for that session. Sometimes they are check-in sessions where everyone will talk about their day or week. Other times, they can look like learning groups where participants read articles, write in a journal, and share out ideas about boundaries, triggers, and so much more. This is a key part of group work. Hearing others talk about their struggles can help you connect and open your mind. 

 There are many facilities and organizations that offer group work. Groups like YPAA (Young People in Alcoholics Anonymous), NACoA, (National Association for Children of Addiction) and Nar-Anon (Narcotics Anonymous) offer programs across the US and Canada with sister groups forming around the world. There are also programs offered at out out-patient treatment facilities, hospitals, and private practices. It’s clear there is a need to help kids break addiction and foster support, and if it’s working for adults, why wouldn’t that model shift to kids?

  So, what is group therapy? It’s a safe space where a group of people battling mental illness, addiction, and trauma comes together to create coping mechanisms and support systems in order to get back into a healthy routine and happy life.

What Will I Get Out of Attending Group Therapy?

It can definitely feel scary to face your demons, let alone facing them in front of other people, but working with others can offer a few things that working alone cannot.

·Community: Sharing your stories and hearing the stories of others can help you realize you are not alone. You may be going through something very personal and individualized, but there are others who have shared some of the same experiences and definitely shared the same feelings of isolation, pain, anxiety, and sadness. Knowing you aren’t the only one can help you heal. Hearing stories of any kind can open our minds to endless possibilities.

·Perspective: There are two ways in which a group can shift perspective. First, hearing the stories of others can help you realize things about yourself and about your own narrative. It can make you see negative behaviors/patterns in yourself that can put you on the right track to healing. Secondly, telling your story can not only help you find the words to overcome your addiction/feelings, but it can also help others just like you. Sometimes knowing we are making a difference in someone’s life can give us the strength to make good choices on our own.

·Support: It’s one thing to know you aren’t alone, but when you are in the depths of addiction and working your way out of mental illness, knowing you have a safe space to share and heal is imperative. Group can be something to look forward to and keep you accountable while you break negative habits and work through trauma. When you are a part of the group, no one gets left behind.

When in Doubt, Try it Out

You may have some reservations when it comes to group therapy, but if you are someone that is struggling with addiction of any kind and nothing else seems to be working, it may be time to try something new. Talking about your problems in front of others may feel scary at first but remember this: everyone else is sitting in that room with the same fears as you. You are not alone which is what group therapy is all about. Get the fears, the anxieties, and the pain out of our body so you can make room for healing, health, and new beginnings.

         They say it takes a village, and when it comes to addiction, The Bougainvilla House has created a village to fight for you and with you. Operating as an out-patient family therapy space, The Bougainvilla House will get you the individual help you need along with group therapy sessions to help you build a new community of health and happiness. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, don’t fight it alone. Call now: 954-764-7337