Group Therapy for Addiction Treatment

Group therapy is often an important component in substance use disorder (SUD) treatment. In group therapy, you can connect with others facing similar challenges and establish a support network, which can be helpful on your recovery journey.1

This page will explain what is involved in group therapy, the types, techniques, and activities involved, how effective it is, and where to find a treatment program offering group therapy.

Therapy for Addiction Treatment

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to addiction treatment. For many, combining evidence-based therapies, such as individual and group therapy, is effective. Others may benefit from a treatment plan that incorporates both behavioral therapy and medication.2 Some examples of evidence-based therapy for addiction treatment include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), contingency management, or group therapy.2

What Is Group Therapy?

Group therapy is a therapy modality that consists of several people participating in group sessions together.3 During group therapy, participants learn and practice recovery strategies, build interpersonal skills, and develop social support networks.3

Group therapy sessions generally involve several participants. One or two therapists often facilitate the sessions. However, group members may lead some meetings, such as in AA.3

The benefits of group therapy addiction treatment include:4

  • Group therapy provides accountability, which can be a positive reinforcement for continued abstinence.
  • Participants have a shared responsibility and commitment to the group, which can positively reinforce one another’s goals for recovery.
  • Group therapy reduces isolation and provides a sense of community.
  • Stories shared in group sessions can provide experience, tips, and hope for other group members. Being around others experiencing similar challenges can help people learn from one another and better cope with difficult times.
  • In group therapy, participants see one another recover in real-time, which can increase motivation for change.
  • Group therapy can provide much needed structure.

Types of Group Therapy

There are various types of group therapy, and the type you participate in may depend on your treatment program and where you are in your recovery journey. You may also participate in more than one type of group therapy as each has its own goals, structure, method, and group dynamics.3

The 5 main group therapy types include:4

  • Psychoeducational groups: The purpose of the group is to expand the participants’ awareness about how substance use affects them physically, behaviorally, and psychologically. The primary method employed for this type of therapy is a teaching approach. The therapist will use videos and written communication to teach the information. These groups also focus on increasing a person’s motivation for change while providing information about recovery resources.
  • Skills development groups: These groups use a cognitive–behavioral approach. Therapists focus on the group’s skills development while also incorporating psychoeducational elements. The group’s primary purpose is to help members learn coping skills to maintain sobriety. Skills development can include ways to cope with triggers or cravings or cover topics like anger management, relaxing without substances, and effective problem-solving.
  • Cognitive behavioral groups: Cognitive-based groups focus on behavioral changes and follow a cognitive behavioral therapy framework. In cognitive behavioral groups, substance use is treated as a learned behavior and one that can be replaced with more positive behaviors. The goal of this type of therapy is to help the person change their thinking patterns, perceptions of the world and themselves, and their beliefs to enable them to lead a substance-free life.
  • Support groups: Support groups offer tools to recover through peer support. Participants can better manage their emotions and thinking patterns by strengthening each other. They also focus on developing interpersonal skills, which are important for maintaining abstinence and managing day-to-day living.
  • Interpersonal Process Group Psychotherapy: In interpersonal process groups, individuals are encouraged to examine their interpersonal thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, as well as their interactions with others within the group. This heightened awareness of interpersonal dynamics allows participants to gain valuable insights into their communication patterns, conflict resolution, and emotional expression.

What to Expect in Group Therapy

The type of experience you’ll have in group therapy depends largely on what kind of group you join, the setting, and other factors. However, you can typically expect about 6 to 12 participants in your group.3 One or more facilitators lead sessions. Usually, the group session is about one to two hours a week.4

Some groups may involve role-play, others may require participants to introspect, and some may ask participants to offer insights in response to the stories from other participants. There are 3 main group therapy dynamics:4

  • Individually focused groups: As the name implies, these groups focus on individual members, specifically their thought processes and emotions. Typically, the group leader will address one group member at a time. The group collaborates to help the individual in focus better understand and overcome the behaviors and thought patterns contributing to their substance use disorder.
  • Interpersonally focused groups: In this setting, individuals are urged to explore how their behavior affects themselves and others.
  • Group-as-a­whole focused groups: This group looks at the group as a whole, where the facilitator emphasizes how the group operates as a single unit. This group therapy type is less common in substance use disorder treatment.

Substance Use Group Therapy Activities

The activities in group therapy can vary depending on the addiction group therapy program you attend. It’s beneficial to be involved with various group activities while in treatment. This can help keep your mind occupied as you work on recovery.

Beyond the five main types of group therapy, specialized groups may be offered. These could include culturally specific groups, groups focused on relapse prevention, or expressive groups.4 Expressive groups typically involve visual arts or music, with skilled leaders facilitating reflection and emotional release, such as:4

Is Group Therapy Effective for Addiction Treatment?

Group therapy plays a vital role in helping you maintain sobriety. It is an effective part of an addiction recovery plan.4 Group therapy and support groups are also capable of providing additional benefits post-treatment. Research shows promising results regarding its efficacy, with some researchers recommending the expanded use of group therapy in treatment.5

Drug Addiction Treatment in Grand Prairie, TX

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction there is effective help close to home. At our inpatient rehab near Dallas, we offer evidence-based addiction-focused healthcare to get you on the road to recovery and back to living the life you deserve.

Call one of our compassionate and understanding admissions navigator at to learn more about our treatment center, check your rehab insurance coverage and other rehab payment options, or start treatment now.

Was this page helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Read our full editorial policy

While we are unable to respond to your feedback directly, we'll use this information to improve our online help.

You aren't alone. You deserve to get help.
Greenhouse is located in Grand Prairie, Texas, which is easily accessible from Dallas and Fort Worth.
Take your next step toward recovery:
✔ learn more about our addiction treatment programs.
✔ see how popular insurance providers such as Aetna or Humana offer coverage for rehab.
view photos of our facility.