In individual counseling sessions offer frequent and direct interaction with a qualified treatment expert, group counseling takes more of a peer-to-peer approach, guided and led by at least one group leader. Each method has its particular strengths; individual sessions are highly focused on the development of the patient, while group therapy is centred around a backbone of social support, fueled by solidarity and the powerful theme that addictions and other issues can be overcome together, with mutual support at every moment.
Both types of counseling sessions encourage honest conversation about the problem, while withholding all personal judgment and maintaining an absolute respect for their privacy. Group therapy offers an expanded range of experiences, however, as each participant becomes both speaker and listener, teacher and patient, leader and witness. By taking in the stories of others, and following their struggle toward redemption, participants gain a new perspective on their own condition and the paths leading forward.
Many group counseling sessions meet regularly, focusing on the type of 12-step recovery process that has gained popularity since the early days of Alcoholics Anonymous. Some groups use variants on the original structure, focusing on as few as 6 main stages to mark progress toward a positive outcome. Such stages might include:
The multi-step improvement model has delivered an impressive success rate since its beginnings, recognizing that addiction recovery is no simple process – but rather a path requiring commitment to maintain the gains of each step forward. By entering into the culture of recovery that group counseling provides, addicted individuals will have a tight community of peers at their back. This circle of trust is one of the most effective resources a person can have, to remove feelings of guilt and counteract the influence of the substance or behavior to which they are addicted.