Group Counselling Therapies

An Overview of Group Therapy

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Call our local number 01603 513 091
Request Call Back
Call our local number 01603 513 091
Request Call Back

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Group Counselling Therapies or Group Therapy for short, is a tried and tested method of delivering an effective programme of ‘change’ for those wishing to stop the use of alcohol and drugs.

Group Therapy has been created to cater for a small group of people working together to achieve the same goal. The group is led by a facilitator trained in group dynamics and with a sound knowledge on the subject matter being discussed.

Group Counselling provides results and is delivered within Abbeycare to assist residents on their path to long term recovery from alcohol and drugs.

Group Counselling Therapies and How They Works

Group Counselling Therapies are designed to work with psychological or emotional disorders in a small group setting. This form of therapy in a group setting is effective when considering the effects of alcohol or drugs on a group of like-minded people.

The Group:

  • Has 3 to 15 participants
  • Is usually set up as a circle
  • Is ran by a Group Facilitator
  • Lasts 45 – 60 minutes
  • Participants have a common goal
  • Participants share common experiences

Groups generally have from 3 -15 participants; it only takes 3 people to make a group.  If the group had more than 15 people in it then the distribution of time would be ineffective.

Participants would not have a chance to talk as the group would run out of time without giving everyone a chance to talk.

Circles create an equality in the group as each person can see one another, sit shoulder to shoulder and don’t have the opportunity to hide from the facilitator.

Circles have been a chosen means of Group Therapy for decades and can create a powerful, effective and transformative dynamic if the group works together and not in opposition.

A Group Facilitator is the lead professional in a group setting. The facilitator may ask another member of staff to attend if the group is on the larger side of 2 – 15 to take notes or support them in specific matters.

The Group Facilitator will have specialist knowledge on the roots and symptoms of addiction and how to discuss these in a specific manner. The facilitator in Abbeycare will use different types of therapy within the group setting.

The duration of the group is on average 45-60 minutes. This timescale has been set to ensure the clients retain information and stay involved in the process. Any longer than 60 minutes the participants may ‘switch off’ and the group will lose its power to effect positive change.

If the group has to be continued residents will be given comfort breaks in between to ensure they can rest, go to the bathroom or go outside for fresh air or a cigarette.

Participants within Abbeycare’s group setting have a common goal. The shared goal is to stop the use of alcohol and/or drugs and stay stopped for the long term.

With this in mind a common ‘bond’ is shared between the residents who may have come from hostile home environments.

Strewn with arguments or other problems associated to alcohol and drugs such as: homelessness, arrests, financial issues and childcare.

Abbeycare groups create a safe space in which its ok not to be ok, the rest of the group understands and are non-judgement or confrontational.

However, the groups may be challenging as a light is shone on areas associated to the use of drug/alcohol. And sometimes by the Peer Group and not the facilitator.

Types of Counselling Therapies

Psychotherapy Groups

In short Psychotherapy groups are used for the treatment of mental or emotional disorders. It could be argued any group setting falls under the category of psychodynamic as human beings are thinking, feeling and emotive.

In Psychotherapy groups the facilitator will use empathy to discover and uncover thinking patterns, belief systems and negative behaviours. The word empathy is used here as these groups are more about gentle probing and are not designed to be confrontational.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy CBT Groups 

CBT Groups are designed within Abbeycare to look at negative thinking and behaviours patterns surrounding the use of alcohol and drugs. 

Thoughts that are negative in nature can be triggered in certain situations known as the activating event i.e. I saw my ex-partner which made me feel sad, angry, unlovable.  To deal with these negative feelings I bought and consumed alcohol – which is known as the negative behaviour.

CBT will consider a more positive framework. I saw my ex-partner now I have considered the relationship truthfully I feel relieved, to celebrate I went a walk and phoned a good friend? Note alcohol use has now been removed.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy MET Groups 

Designed to illicit behaviour change in an ambivalent mind i.e. still undecided if sobriety is the life they want to lead?

MET uses techniques to self-motivate the group member to make positive lifestyle changes. Working under the theory, the decisions must be ‘made by’ and ‘come from’ self this style of group work requires active participation. 

12 Step Groups 

12 Step Group Work considers ‘abstinence’ from alcohol and drugs as a source of recovery. The philosophy that the use of alcohol and drugs can-not be controlled in safety is discussed.

Participants consider the path they have travelled due to their addiction and question how it would have been without alcohol and drugs. The group will also consider ‘who’ will help them stay in recovery now they are in recovery.

Promoting long term ‘abstinence’ from problematic alcohol and drug use. 

Group Dynamics to consider in Therapy

In each group will be an eclectic mix of people from all different walks of life and ages. Not everybody in the group will present with similar dependencies. This creates interesting, dynamic and thought-provoking discussions.

The Group Members may present with different dependencies:

Group Roles -

In Group Dynamics different Group Roles may be adapted just as in everyday life. These form interesting dynamics to the group and the therapist is trained to spot them.

A trained therapist will work with these group roles to bring cohesion to the group. Here are some of the Group Roles:

  • The Fixer
  • The Harmoniser
  • The Clown
  • The Antagoniser
  • The monopoliser

The Fixer takes responsibility for anyone who is struggling in the group or any uncomfortable silences and tries to fix them. There are pro’s and con’s for this role as role as sometimes areas do not require to be fixed by someone else?

The Harmoniser tries to stop any animosity or tension from surfacing in the group. Again, this may be unhelpful as animosity is a part of real life and group members are required to develop their own techniques for dealing with this.

The Clown will try to bring humour to the group. This can be frustrating as a group member as some areas are quite serious and do not require inappropriate humour. The clown can also derail an important conversation.

The Antagoniser is generally not happy about being in the group or has an issue outside the group which they carry with them. Generally angry and confrontational these techniques are once again used as a distraction from the important issues.

The Monopoliser takes up most of the sharing time within the group. They will interject conversations with an opinion or identification with the speaker. This can be unhelpful when trying to build a rapport with a group member which is disrupted by a monopoliser.

So, what is the best role to adapt in a Group? The answer is there is no definitive role although the following will help:

  • Open-minded
  • Considerate with time
  • Compassionate
  • Honest
  • Respectful of others views
  • Active Listener

Group Rules

Group Rules are an important part of group therapy as it allows the Group Roles to be addressed by means of a mutual agreement. Examples of group rules may be:

  • One Singer, one song
  • Do not interject
  • Stay on topic
  • No confrontational language
  • Be mindful of sharing time
  • Use ‘I’ and not ‘We’ when talking

One singer, one song allows for one person to talk at a time if more than one person was chatting at any given time the group may descend into chaos. This rule is helpful if there is a Monopoliser in the group.

Do not interject, if a group member is reaching an important point which may be of interest to others it is important not to interject as the sharer may lose their train of thought. They may lose the benefit of the realisation they have come to.

Stay on topic, the group may only last 60 minutes and if so the time in the group is precious. If the speaker sways off course the group may lose the power to make the positive thinking and behavioural changes required to stay off alcohol and drugs.

No confrontational language, necessary if there is an antagonist in the group. The facilitator can bring attention to this rule. Changing the conversation to a more therapeutic and less challenging one.

Using ‘I’ and not ‘we’ words is a good rule when a harmoniser is trying to talk on behalf of the whole group. A human only has their own experience and should concentrate on this.

Group rules promote positivity, safety, therapeutic learning and cohesion within a group.

Group Counselling Therapy and Group Cohesion 

Tuckman (1965) created an illustrative view on groups and the processes a group goes through when coming together.

The processes are known as Forming, Storming, Norming/Performing and Adjourning. Work in the following ways:

Forming – the group is new, and all the roles people adapt are on display. During this time the group members and the facilitator work to bring everybody together and ‘on the same page.’ Members become aware of the roles they are playing and try to work in line with the group rules.

Storming – this is the stage where participants start to take risks to identify if they can trust the other group members. This stage can bring about disagreements. In this stage individuals can make a bid for supremacy. The facilitator and participants work to bring harmony.

Norming/Performing – the group now know each other, and initial disagreements have been rectified. This is where effective change can be accomplished when the group begin to mould together and work to reach mutual goals.

Adjourning – the end of the groups journeys together. The group celebrate the achievements they have secured and prepare to move on and leave rehab.

Frequently Asked Questions

I don’t like sitting in groups do I need to attend these?

At Abbeycare Group Counselling Therapy is the backbone of the therapeutic programme on offer. Life changes and the experiences had previously may differ from the present.

Abbeycare asks participants to keep an open mind as they may be surprised at how much they enjoy Group Therapy and the many benefits it has to offer.

Do you have to do writing assignments I have trouble writing?

At time of assessment the assessor will ask if you have any trouble with writing etc. If there is writing included in any of the programme a member of staff will support you.

Abbeycare are aware that people present in various stages and hope this does not deter anybody from applying to attend.

Do I have to talk?

Clients are encouraged to talk in group therapy in order to get the best results from their time at rehab.  However, if you struggle to talk you will be supported in this area by all the members of the team.

Will family therapy follow the same format?

The family therapy groups are more relaxed and engaging. They are also in a group setting and the specialist facilitator will ensure group members feel safe and supported.

Group Counselling Therapy at Abbeycare is delivered by specialist recovery workers versed in the art of group facilitation. Abbeycare only uses the transformative and researched models of treatment designed to deliver the best results for their residents.

Group Therapy has been proven to be an enjoyable component of rehab as well as beneficial in helping to change negative thinking and behaviour patterns. In a safe, constructive and confidential manner.

Those attending Group Therapy have went on to live drug and alcohol-free lives. Armed with a battery of tools designed for living this new life.

Addiction to alcohol and drugs can affect every area of life from health, finances, relationships, jobs, children and peace of mind. Addiction is all consuming.

Therefore, recovery needs to be progressive and positive in its attempt to eliminate the desire to use substances harmful to health. Recovery involves freedom.

Recovery is available for anyone regardless of background, drug they choose to use or length of time they have used substances for. The cycle can be broken.

If you visualise yourself free from alcohol and drugs living a happy and productive life?

And wish to learn more about our Short-term residential treatment programme call our free 24/7 Helpline on 01603 513 091 or fill out the form below to speak to a trained addiction counsellor.


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