At Pax House, we provide a structured treatment schedule for our clients that includes individual and group therapy, as well as other therapeutic activities such as yoga, meditation, art therapy, and music therapy. One important type of group therapy that we emphasize is process groups, also known as personal exploration groups. These are specialized group therapy sessions that provide a safe space for clients to explore issues, feelings and emotions with peers that also help them learn healthy interpersonal behavior. A certified counselor leads these groups, but the bulk of the session focuses on what the clients want to – and need to – discuss.
Process groups are sessions involving a small group of peers where each member can share personal struggles and concerns. They are facilitated by a professional and licensed counselor, but the members of the group contribute most of the content during these sessions. Clients are able to gain from hearing multiple perspectives about particular issues they face, often discovering that they are not alone in their struggles. They benefit from the support, encouragement, feedback and trust of other small group members while learning to give support and encouragement themselves. Effective communication methods and problem solving strategies are practiced and internalized by participating in process groups.
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Process groups are loosely structured. Some may have a specific theme, but they will not have a detailed agenda. A member can discuss pressing issues, and others can impart feedback, advice, or support. This forum provides an opportunity for individuals to learn an outside perspective on an issue by someone going through a similar experience. Process groups focus on the cultivation of self-acceptance and self-support rather than critique or excessive advice-giving. Many addicts have developed interpersonal issues and problems relating with others. Process groups often highlight and/or reveal these troublesome interpersonal issues and social difficulties. But by learning and recognizing these problems in a safe and non-judgmental environment, a client can work on finding and practicing healthier alternatives. Growth is facilitated by having a designated place to express oneself without fear of rejection. Many of the issues leading to addiction begins with the suppression of thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Learning to express one’s feelings in a self-respecting and constructive way is essential to long-term recovery.
At Pax House, we provide the opportunity for our clients to engage in process groups. During these group sessions, clients have an opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings about their addiction, recovery journey, or other life concerns with the others in the group. They receive supportive feedback from others, learn to express themselves, and build healthy interpersonal relationships. We feel that process groups are an essential social and emotional component of recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. In the self-awareness that often develops through them, clients find themselves better able to cope with what were previously insurmountable stressors in their lives. Our process groups are gender-specific to reduce some of the complications that co-ed interpersonal discussions or interactions can cause. Some of our clients may have experienced sexual abuse or other trauma that makes them uneasy discussing or sharing those experiences with those of the opposite gender, and there are other issues that sometimes make co-ed groups more restrictive than constructive. While some process groups will focus on a theme, such as trauma, the primary focus of most of our process groups is to provide a safe space for our clients to undergo personal exploration and benefit from outside perspectives.