For many people, group therapy is even more powerful than individual therapy. The group dynamic and open line of communication lend themselves to honesty and self-awareness, which is exceptionally beneficial to recovery.

There are many forms of group therapy. Some focus on skill-building, while others focus on what’s going on outside of the group. Whatever its form, group therapy works, especially in addiction recovery.

What makes group therapy so powerful?

1. It’s a safe space.

The group therapy environment is a safe place where participants can be vulnerable without fear of shame, embarrassment or judgment. Vulnerability is a critical component of skill-building, but it can be intimidating to step outside of your comfort zone. Within the safety net of group therapy, however, members feel more comfortable being uncomfortable, which can boost recovery.

2. It helps you realize you’re not alone.

Addiction is isolating, so it’s easy to assume that no one else could possibly understand what you’re going through. But in group therapy, you’re surrounded by people who understand your exact struggles on a deeply personal level.

3. It’s solution-oriented.

In group therapy, the therapist might be facilitating the discussion, but they aren’t running the show. Members are encouraged to offer support and guidance, creating an environment where you can get honest feedback and bounce ideas off one another.

When you listen to someone else’s story about how they overcame a similar issue you’re struggling with, that issue doesn’t seem as intimidating. By hearing what’s worked–and what hasn’t–for others, you can apply the same methods to your situation to achieve the outcome you want.

4. It addresses shame.

The concept of shame within the context of group therapy is twofold. On the one hand, there’s the shame that says you’re not worthy or valuable; the toxic, negative self-talk that stunts your recovery. On the other hand, there’s the type of shame you feel when you realize that although your circumstances may be unique, the struggle you’re going through is universal. This is the shame that shifts your perspective by seeing and hearing yourself within a group setting.

5. It helps you open up.

For some people, group therapy is less intimidating than individual therapy, and therefore more effective. In individual therapy, it may take a few sessions for someone to feel comfortable opening, but in group therapy, that sense of camaraderie makes some feel less afraid to share.

6. It empowers you to find your voice.

It’s so easy to fall back and be a wallflower in group therapy, but you’re only hurting yourself if you aren’t actively participating. Of course, it takes time to feel comfortable, but group therapy will gradually make you feel safe to open up and express yourself. Once the newness of group therapy has worn off and you’re fully engaged, you can be more vocal and encourage new members of the group in their journey.

7. It’s cathartic.

It’s not healthy to keep your emotions bottled up, but a group setting facilitates a setting where everyone can express their feelings of pain, grief, guilt, stress and resentment. Group therapy is a place where you aren’t venting just to vent–you’re dealing with your emotions in a productive manner.

8. It boosts your self-awareness.

In a group setting, the therapist leading the sessions can see how you respond and behave in social settings. The therapist can provide valuable feedback and use their observations to structure individual therapy sessions moving forward.

Individualized treatment is the crux of our recovery philosophy at Guardian IOP, which is why we rely so heavily on individual and group therapy in our curriculum. We utilize these tools to help clients identify the underlying causes that contributed to their addictions while equipping them the skills necessary to lead successful, fulfilling lives in recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, contact Guardian IOP for more information about our addiction treatment programs at 855.517.1871.


Reviewed for accuracy by:

Anna earned her Masters of Social Work at Barry University in Miami, FL in 2017 and completed her internship in co-occurring disorders. Anna has a Bachelors of Art in Religious Studies from Naropa University and is a certified yoga and meditation instructor. Anna has received specialized training in somatic counseling with an emphasis on body-centered psychotherapy.