There are several types of therapy that one can engage with during substance abuse treatment.  Individual therapy and group therapy are two that are most common.  Individual therapy is provided one-on-one with a licensed professional who will explore the psychological components of the individual’s substance abuse including history and treatment goals.  In group therapy, many individuals can be engaged in a setting that allows for others to share in the treatment process.  One type of group therapy that is used quite often in substance abuse treatment is psychoeducational group therapy.

Psychoeducational group therapy is facilitated through a leader who is usually a licensed mental health professional with specific expertise in substance abuse treatment.  The facilitator will typically have an agenda with which to organize the group and topics are centered around the behaviors and consequences of substance abuse addiction.  The facilitator may use videos or other materials to present to the group.  One positive component of psychoeducational group therapy is that it is based on the reality of the addict’s life and the ability to apply practical knowledge to recovery.  A group participant can be provided with resources that might aid in recovery efforts, information related to the recovery process, and how to become more self-aware to the consequences of addiction.

As the term implies, psychoeducational group therapy is educational in nature.  The purpose is to provide information to the group participants on the medical, psychological, and behavioral aspects of addiction.  Some facilitators might lead a group in understanding the medical consequences of consuming alcohol and illicit drugs or how the psychological use of denial can inhibit recovery.

Psychoeducational group therapy can be facilitated either through inpatient or outpatient treatment.  Many facilities that offer psychoeducational services also encourage family members to attend with the individual in recovery.  This helps in educating the family system on the addict’s recovery process and what can be expected.  If the facilitator leads a group on coping skills during recovery or challenges faced by a person in recovery, the family members in attendance can learn as well in how to support their loved one.

This group process is structured by the facilitator; however, there is time devoted to answering questions posed by the group.  Individuals can ask questions related to their substance abuse history or behavioral consequences of addiction provided that the questions are related to the topic of discussion.  If participants get off topic or start to defer the conversation to personal experiences, the facilitator will work to refocus the group.  It is important with this type of group therapy to allow an educational experience to occur.  Reports from those in recovery indicate that learning about the medical and behavioral consequences of substance abuse addiction can be helpful in terms of understanding an individual’s addiction and recovery process.


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