The purpose of group therapy is to assist each individual in emotional growth and personal problem-solving. Group therapy encompasses many different kinds of groups with varying theoretical orientations that exist for varying purposes. All therapy groups exist to help individuals grow emotionally and solve personal problems, and all utilize the power of the group and the therapist who leads it in this process. Many individuals who suffer substance abuse find themselves in a state of “isolation” and often feel alone. The group process will help the addict to learn to gain healthy independent and interdependent skills. Unlike the simple two-person relationship between patient and therapist in individual therapy, group therapy offers multiple relationships to assist the individual in growth and problem-solving.
All patients come into therapy hoping to decrease their suffering and improve their lives. Because each member in a therapy group is inevitably at a different point on the coping continuum and grows at a different rate, watching others cope with and overcome similar problems instills hope and inspiration. New members or those in despair may be particularly encouraged by others’ positive outcomes.
A common feeling among group members, especially when a group is just starting, is that of being isolated, unique, and apart from others. Many who enter group therapy have great difficulty sustaining interpersonal relationships and feel unlikable and unlovable. Group therapy provides a powerful antidote to these feelings. For many, it may be the first time they feel understood and similar to others. Enormous relief often accompanies recognizing that they are not alone; this is a unique benefit of group therapy.