Our guest on this episode of The Addicted Mind podcast is Mari Lee, a licensed marriage and family and certified sex addiction therapist supervisor, consultant, coach, speaker, author, and founder of Growth Counseling Services in Glendora, CA.
Mari is a firm believer in the power of group therapy in conjunction with individual therapy and 12-step sessions to aid in the recovery process, especially with sex and porn addictions. Addiction thrives in secrecy and isolation, and could often be triggered by boredom and loneliness, so an excellent way to progress in the recovery process is to have a confidential group of individuals who know what you are going through and can support you along the way. The members of this group could, in fact, be the first healthy relationships they have each experienced.
Group therapy, when facilitated the right way, can provide the individuals with shame reduction practices, a community with the other members, structure, consistency, inclusion, focused discussions, and accountability. The connections between the group members are often viewed as a brotherhood or sisterhood and provide a foundation for each member as they engage with their life circumstances outside of the group as well. It is common for individuals in the group to have trauma from their families of origin, and these traumas and unhealthy familial roles typically play a part in these group therapy sessions.
Group therapy members are also encouraged to attend 12-step programs to support their individual recovery as well since these programs are more systematic and structured, providing each individual with a sponsor for accountability. However, 12-step programs do not have the flexibility of group therapy when it comes to cross-talk between group members, feedback, and deep conversations.
Mari encourages anyone out there who is considering joining a group therapy session to go ahead and give it a shot. Be sure to do a pre-group interview with your therapist to determine which group might be best for you and be open to being referred to a group in another therapist’s practice if that one is the best fit. Find out the logistics of when the group meets and how a session typically looks, so you are as prepared as possible for your initial meeting. Be open to the process and commit to the group for your own healing.
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Resources & Links
To any therapists who are considering setting up group therapy in their practices, Mari recommends reaching out to a consultant who can help you come up with curriculum, client standards, policies, forms, standards of care, and a general roadmap for conducting and facilitating your group.