Psychotherapeutic Approaches to Group Therapy for Addiction

 The Psychotherapeutic Approach Used By the Group Facilitator

The facilitator in the Levy family case uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is a frequently used psychotherapeutic approach for substance abuse and dependence. Group therapy reduces isolation and enhances individual therapy through collaboration amongst the group members in sharing and witnessing each other’s recovery (American Psychological Association, n.d.). Whether good or bad, group experiences shape the lives of individual participants, especially those who have issues relating to substance abuse, such as isolation and depression. By using CBT, the facilitator has the opportunity to engage the members to share their stories for eased understanding, in addition to the identification of the conversations amongst the participants for the collection of information (Cully & Teten, 2008). Furthermore, the use of group therapy enables the facilitator to provide useful information to the clients who are new to the recovery process, such as Jake’s experience in breathing control as part of the exposure therapy. The participants are war veterans who suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) resulting from traumatic war events and addiction to psychoactive substances.

Naturally, humans are social creatures, and thus, group therapy provides opportunities for powerful therapeutic experiences and nurtures a recovery culture. The primary goal of psychotherapeutic treatment is the enhancement and sustainability of a patient’s or patients’ motivation for change through the reduction or elimination of self-medication with psychoactive drugs (Gilbert et al., 2005). CBT focuses on the impact of one’s thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes on behavior for the identification of the most effective coping skills. CBT allows the psychotherapist to identify and challenge negative thought patterns for positive feelings and behavioral change. In the Levy family case, the facilitator uses CBT for the provision of positive peer support and pressure for abstinence by encouraging the members to converse and share their stories. Group therapy provides insight, comfort, and guidance to the participants, especially those facing crises such as Jake’s alcoholism and the subsequent endless fights with his wife. The participants also have a platform for self-expression and the acquirement of social, communication, and interpersonal skills. Members learn coping skills for dealing with substance-related problems through shared experiences from other members.

Determination of Whether or Not I would Use the Same Psychotherapeutic Approach

I would use a similar psychotherapeutic approach in the treatment of the group of war veterans who are suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). CBT is recommended as the most effective treatment for PTSD patients due to its specific focus on the interpretation and understanding of traumatic events to trigger positive changes in thoughts, feelings, and behavior. According to the social cognitive theory, individuals who integrate traumatic events into beliefs create misconceptions about self-control, which is likely to cause the use of psychoactive drugs (American Psychological Association, n.d.). The case study involves war veterans who have experienced extremely traumatic events, and thus, they need to re-evaluate their thought patterns, assumptions, and behaviors for the reduction of their symptoms and improvement of psychological functioning (American Psychological Association, n.d.).

The use of CBT will help the participants to understand their subsequent traumatic experiences and establish appropriate coping skills. The use of exposure therapy will help the individuals to identify and control their fears through re-exposure of the traumatic experiences in a safe environment. The use of CBT in group therapy reduces isolation and encourages sharing among members, thereby enhancing their social lives and inspiring behavioral change (American Psychological Association, n.d.). As part of CBT, the use of cognitive restructuring can be helpful to the group of war veterans by ensuring that they make sense of the past traumatic events for the elimination of guilt and shame (National Institute of Mental Health, 2020). The use of CBT in group therapy will encourage positive conversations for eased identification of the triggers and establishment of effective interventions for the elimination of self-medication with drugs and substances.

Alternative Approach to Group Therapy for Addiction

Gestalt therapy can be used as an alternative to CBT in the case study due to its focus on personal experiences during therapeutic interactions. This approach is emphatic on the responsibility and accountability for an individual’s behavior through the creation of a safe environment for self-expression (Wagner-Moore, 2004). For instance, Jake has been engaging in alcoholism as a self-medication strategy, which has created issues with his wife. The use of gestalt therapy will help the war veterans to understand their traumatic experiences by exploring their emotions and needs. The gestalt theory focuses on the improvement of the present life without neglecting past traumatic experiences, which is a credible approach that requires close relationships between the therapy and clients for eased identification of individual treatment needs. The use of the empty chair technique enables the therapist to engage the client(s) to share the past experiences for the identification of unique mental health needs and treatment strategies. Hypothetically, the use of gestalt therapy empowers the clients to take responsibility for their thoughts and actions, which triggers self-awareness and improves behavior.

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