by Hope Rehab Team
What is Mixed Group Therapy?
Mixed group therapy is where participation in the group is open to people from a wide range of backgrounds. In rehab, clients will at least share the common factor of addiction, but group therapy will often involve participants who would not normally spend much time together (e.g. different nationalities, sexual orientation, or social class). In this post, we want to examine the reasons for why being exposed to a mixed group can be beneficial for those attempting to overcome an addiction problem.
The Popularity of Group-Specific Group Therapy
Group-specific therapy refers to a situation where participation in a therapy group is limited to a specific subset of the population. Access to the group could be limited based on various criteria such as:
- Sex (male, female, or transgender)
Sexual orientation (e.g. gay or straight)
Age (e.g. teens, adults, or older adults)
Related to specific drug abuse (e.g. alcohol, prescription medication, or opiates)
There are a number of benefits of limiting group participation to members who belong to these specific subsets. It can mean that participants feel more comfortable and better able to express themselves. In some situations, it may be the only way for a member of the group to feel safe talking about their situation (e.g. women who have been abused by men may feel fear when in group therapy involving men). There is plenty of information already available online about the benefits of group-specific therapy (please check out our previous posts on Age Matters and The Barriers to Women Seeking Addiction Treatment ), but for the remainder of this post will focus on the potential pitfalls of this way of doing things and offer an alternative.
Stuck in an Echo Chamber
The term ‘echo chamber’ is commonly used to a situation where people limit themselves to groups that share their worldview. This creates a dynamic where the members of the groups can have their beliefs, opinions, and ideas supported rather than challenged. It can certainly be comforting to be surrounded by likeminded individuals, but it may not be such a great scenario if our beliefs, opinions, and ideas are part of the problem. The danger is that a group that serves as an ‘echo chamber’ can strengthen a worldview where drug abuse and other addictive behavior can seem to be a reasonable response to the situation.
Benefits of Mixed Group Therapy
The fact that people are from such different backgrounds means the members of the group are exposed to a wider range of ideas and experiences.
- Having beliefs challenged can help clients break free of limiting beliefs.
It may encourage clients to see beyond their usual way of seeing things.
It can lead to a better understanding of people from different backgrounds.
It can trigger insights into our shared humanity.
It helps us to empathize with people from different backgrounds and potentially lead to increased tolerance.
It can lessen fear of people who would normally consider ‘other’.
It avoids the negative aspects of the ‘echo chamber’ effect (see above).
Not Group Specific or Mixed Group but Group Specific and Mixed Group Therapy
The purpose of this post is not to criticize group-specific therapy in order to promote mixed group therapy as the correct way of doing things. Both of these approaches provides benefits and may be necessary for those attempting to quit addiction. There is no reason to choose one above the other when we can benefit from both of these approaches.
At Hope Rehab Thailand, we offer both mixed and group-specific therapy as this is what gets the best results. Please support us by sharing this post on social media.