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SAMHSA News - May/June 2005, Volume 13, Number 3

TIP logoGroup Therapy Guide Focuses on Substance Use Treatment

SAMHSA recently unveiled a comprehensive guide on the use of group therapy in treating substance use disorders.

Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy, SAMHSA's Treatment Improvement Protocol 41 (TIP 41), emphasizes that group therapy is effective treatment and is a cost-effective way to deliver treatment.

A consensus panel of experts developed the publication, which is designed to aid substance abuse counselors who use group therapy in the treatment of substance use disorders. The TIP series is produced by SAMHSA's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT).

The guide includes detailed, state-of-the-art information about group therapy modalities, techniques, and practices valuable to supervisors and trainers of counselors as well.

The consensus panel found that group therapy offers a number of advantages to participants, including positive peer support, a reduction in their sense of isolation, real-life examples of people in recovery, and help from peers in coping with substance abuse and other life problems.

"Group therapy offers participants a critical pathway for the hope, support, and encouragement needed to break free from substance abuse," said SAMHSA Administrator Charles G. Curie, M.A., A.C.S.W. "Because of its effectiveness and economy of scale, group therapy has gained popularity. The group approach has come to be regarded as a source of powerful curative forces that are not always experienced by the client in individual therapy," he added.

According to TIP 41, group therapy is effective for several reasons. Group participation engages therapeutic "forces" such as affiliation, support, gratification, and peer confrontation. These properties can bond participants to the culture of recovery. In addition, groups are effective in treating problems that often accompany addiction—including depression, isolation, stigma, and shame.

Group therapy models described in TIP 41 include the following:

  • Psycho-educational. Educate clients about substance abuse.

  • Skills development. Cultivate the skills needed to attain and sustain abstinence.

  • Cognitive-behavioral. Alter thoughts and actions that lead to substance abuse.

  • Support. Provide a forum to share practical information about abstinence and ways to sustain day-to-day, chemical-free living.

  • Interpersonal process. Delve into major developmental issues that contribute to addiction and can interfere with recovery.

TIP 41 also offers information on specialized groups that do not fit neatly into the five-model classification mentioned above, especially those groups that focus on solving a single problem.

TIP 41 helps counselors:

  • Understand why groups work so well in treating substance abuse and how to tailor group therapy to substance abuse treatment.

  • Weigh considerations before placing a client in a particular group (e.g., stage of recovery and client diversity).

  • Compare "fixed" and "revolving" types of therapy groups and understand how to prepare clients for participation.

  • Understand stages of treatment.

Group therapy is not equivalent to a 12-step program, the guide emphasizes. But the two are complementary to the recovery process.

For more information, visit www.kap.samhsa.gov/products/
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Quick Guide for Clinicians

cover of Quick Guide for CliniciansThis booklet is a pocket companion to the 184-page Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP)41—Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy. Based on TIP 41, this publication offers clinicians concise, easily accessible information. A glossary of terms is also included.

To obtain TIP 41 or the Quick Guide for Clinicians, contact SAMHSA's National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information at P.O. Box 2345, Rockville, MD 20847-2345. Telephone: 1 (800) 729-6686 (English and Spanish) or 1 (800) 487-4889 (TDD).

You can review the entire TIP series by topic or by number. To review the list of available TIPs or to access online links, visit www.kap.samhsa.gov/products/manuals/tips/
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SAMHSA News - May/June 2005, Volume 13, Number 3

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