cognitive behavioral group therapy

What is Cognitive Behavioral Group Therapy?

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Addiction is not just about choosing to abuse a substance. It’s not about being bored on a weekend or looking to have a good time after a day at work. There are things in our lives that drove us to addiction. And those same things push us back to our fix. Time and time and time again.

We have stuff we need to work through.

This should be obvious, but when we are caught up in the intense craving or the physical need for substances, we tend to think all we have is a drug problem. But the problem is much deeper than the drugs. The substances we use to numb (or hide from) our lives—these are merely symptoms. The way to get to the actual problem is to get deeper. And an effective way to do that is with cognitive behavioral group therapy.

So What Is the Problem?

The problem is the baggage. It’s the stuff we carry on our backs that stops us from moving forward in life. And cognitive behavioral group therapy can help us root it out. In an addiction treatment setting, this kind of group therapy helps addicts address the behaviors and attitudes that have kept them stuck in their substance abuse.

In addition to being effective in helping people overcome substance abuse and the disease of addiction, cognitive behavioral group therapy can also be extremely effective in addressing a wide variety of conditions such as depression, anxiety, phobias, and others.

Understanding Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) was developed in the 1960s. It was created to enable patients to realize that their own thoughts and feelings can significantly influence their behaviors. A counselor who is experienced in CBT is able to help clients recognize their style of thinking and to modify it through the use of evidence and logic.

This form of therapy is very popular in drug treatment for several reasons. First and foremost, it is time-limited and focuses on specific issues that individuals experience. Secondly, cognitive-behavioral therapy for addiction focuses on the present and what clients can do in the here and now to improve their situation.

Additionally, the counselor and client or clients can work together to understand why personal thoughts can lead to exaggerated or irrational behaviors and they can work on changing these behaviors through the use of specific guided homework assignments.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy also gives people the chance to work on using their new and improved behaviors in their home environment. The structure of CBT allows for the therapist and client or group of clients to focus on the problems at hand and not allow therapy sessions to become dominated by “chat sessions.”

How Does Group CBT Work in Drug Treatment?

In order for group cognitive behavioral therapy to work in a group setting, therapists must focus on building group cohesiveness and focus on the specific tasks at hand. It can definitely be a challenge in trying to build this sense of group unity, especially given the fact that each client is unique in regards to the specific substance abuse issues they have when they enter drug treatment.

A great starting point in order to build this cohesiveness is the recognition that the members of a group CBT session have issues that are common in their respective addiction stories. Together, the group can focus on the common underlying patterns of behavior that give rise to these issues.

Once a strong sense of group unity is in place, the therapist will work with the group in focusing in on specific issues and the underlying thought processes and emotions that give rise to those issues.

As stated earlier, a main component of CBT is for the client to be able to identify within themselves the problematic patterns of behavior and thought that have allowed them to become stuck in their addiction. In a group setting, individual members can model the modified or corrected behavior through watching others. For those who are stuck in old patterns of thought, they are able to observe and correct these within the safety of the group in a non-judgmental and empowering environment.

The Effectiveness of Cognitive Group Therapy in Addiction Treatment

When cognitive behavioral group therapy is used as part of an addiction treatment program, it can be effective on a number of fronts. First and foremost, therapists can perform various “social experiments” within the group and utilize individual members to carry out these experiments. These experiments revolve around social interaction and interpersonal communication and can show the group as a whole what can happen if people behave or act in a certain way.

Secondly, group cognitive behavioral therapy helps individuals feel they are not alone in what they think and feel. When group members observe that other members have similar experiences, worries and emotional responses it helps the individual remove the shame and stigma and normalizes their experience. Within a group format, the suggestions and feedback that group members make to each other may carry more weight than if they were made by the therapist. The main reasoning behind this thought is that a group member’s input may be seen as more impartial, and it can allow the group to be more collaborative and less threatening.

The therapy professionals at First Steps Recovery can help you understand the benefits of group cognitive behavioral therapy and will be able to tailor this and all therapy options to meet your unique treatment needs and goals. There are other types of group therapies available. The important thing is to find the right fit for you or your loved one.

Don’t wait another day to address your addiction; call First Steps Recovery today: 844-489-0836.

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