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Outpatient group therapy is an intensive treatment approach that provides structure to the recovery process. In the beginning, it may feel a bit more intimidating than individual therapy because of its group setting, but it can actually be comforting to know that other people experience challenges similar to yours.

What can I expect during outpatient group therapy?

Outpatient group therapy is an effective technique used to address a multitude of challenges including mental disorders, substance abuse disorder and familial or behavioral issues. Certain activities will be tailored specifically to the issue for which you are seeking treatment, however, the general structure of each day will be similar:

  • Group counseling sessions, which are often in the form of psychotherapy, or talk therapy. Participants will be encouraged to share their thoughts and feelings on their current circumstances, and other group members will be able to vocalize support and empathy. A therapist will lead these sessions, however, each participant will have a hand in guiding the group’s discussion and empowering one another to overcome their challenges
  • Experiential group therapy, a slightly less clinical approach to group recovery that promotes mindfulness, interpersonal communication, recreational therapy activities, de-stressing and de-escalation techniques and mind/body activities
  • Psychoeducation sessions to facilitate a better understanding of the way the brain works, especially in cases of mental disorders and substance addiction
  • Support groups that are not led by a therapist but rather led communally by other participants in the program. Support groups provide the opportunity for learning new ways to relate to others, managing interpersonal conflict and gaining new perspectives
  • Individual counseling sessions to review progress made within the program and, perhaps more vulnerably, discuss challenges and the impact group therapy has had on them. As outpatient group therapy emphasizes the therapeutic effects of healing among a group, there will be less of a focus on one-on-one counseling although it is still important for recovery at the individual level
  • Stress management sessions for when complications arise, either with mental health, sobriety or within the family unit
  • Life skills sessions, covering financial management, household management, work/life balance, long-term planning and goal-setting and social skills
  • Family counseling sessions develop coping mechanisms for issues that affect the entire family. Family counseling often takes up a small portion of outpatient group therapy – typically one hour per week.

A substance abuse outpatient group therapy program, for example, will comprise of additional sessions aimed at recovery:

  • Drug and alcohol refusal training, wherein participants act out scenarios in which they are offered to use substances and then practice refusing them to maintain their sobriety
  • Relapse prevention sessions for learning how to identify triggers for substance abuse and ways to manage them
  • Reflection sessions to encourage the recognition of unhealthy behaviors and habits
  • Management techniques for urges or cravings to use substances 

Outpatient group therapy programs typically require a time commitment of three to six hours per day, two to four days per week. Groups are often held at an outpatient treatment facility, so reliable transportation is important in ensuring you can attend all of your sessions. You will go through your treatment with the same small group of two to 10 people who are in circumstances similar to yours. Participants will spend the most time in group counseling sessions.

Does outpatient group therapy work?

Outpatient group therapy benefits its participants in that it provides the tools and skills needed for sustained, long-term recovery while allowing them to reside at home and begin to integrate back into their daily lives. An outpatient setting is ideal for individuals who have a healthy and supportive home environment, rather than one where drugs, alcohol or other triggers are consistently present. For individuals who have recently completed residential treatment or partial hospitalization program, outpatient group therapy would be the next level of care in their treatment plan.

Outpatient group therapy provides a safe, inviting, and empathetic environment to discuss feelings – positive or negative – that come along with the road to recovery. This is particularly important for participants who may not have anyone else in their lives who has experienced something similar, which can make recovery even more difficult and isolating. Outpatient group therapy is also effective at improving social connections and peer support, which further facilitates open communication among participants in their sessions.

How can I start outpatient group therapy?

Pyramid Family Behavioral Healthcare specializes in outpatient group therapy for mental health concerns, behavioral health problems and substance abuse disorder. Reach out today at 678-274-4936 to find the group that is right for you.

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