What is Faith-Based Group Therapy?
Faith-based approaches to addiction recovery have proven time and time again to be a very successful means of rehabilitation. Spirituality is an important part of life for many people and can tremendously aid in getting the addict on the right track. No matter the religion, it plays a key role in how people think about themselves and others. When coupled with a strong faith-based group therapy program for the rehabilitation of substance abusers, you have a winning combination for a successful recovery. Many faith-based therapy groups are centered around Christianity and Jesus Christ. They operate off the theory that addiction stems from a lack of spirituality. This lack, or hole, in one’s life is the cause of the addiction or substance abuse. The focus of group therapy then becomes to reintroduce Jesus Christ into one’s life so as to fill this hole and end addiction.
How Can Faith-Based Programs Boost Recovery Success?
Every individual has their own form of Spirituality. Faith-based group therapy allows the individual to expand upon this spirituality and explore personal faith and rediscover vision, hope, belief, and reality in their life and the world around them.
In the process of recovering from drug or alcohol addiction and abuse, there are often feelings of blame, guilt, and shame the addict puts upon themselves. This creates an unhealthy level of stress which is very detrimental to recovery. While it is still important to be accountable and responsible for one’s past actions in the process of recovery, letting go can be very liberating for the former addict. Letting go is when all negative feelings are given up and released into the hands of a Higher Power, thus freeing up spiritual and emotional space within the individual. This allows for emotional growth, which leads to self-empowerment and the road to long-term sobriety.
Faith-Based Programs Encourage:
- Rise in hope
- Trust in oneself
- Restored connection with others
- Reawakened inner truth
- Renewed life purpose
For a person with strong spiritual beliefs who is struggling with addiction and/or substance abuse, a program without these aspects would not be complete. To be unable to acknowledge their love and trust of a Higher Power would leave holes in their recovery. A long-lasting complete recovery for this type of individual would need to include a group therapy in which people of like mindsets could share their beliefs and help to empower each other through scripture, faith in recovery and spiritual teachings.
What to Expect from a Faith-Based Program
While each independent religious rehab center will have its own methods of operation, most will include teachings based on the faith or religion practiced at that facility, in combination with standard secular detox processes. This can prove to be a highly functional and successful means of recovery type program for individuals in need of rehab who also embrace a religious lifestyle.
Common faith-based programs include:
- Assistance with drug detoxing and withdrawals
- Educational classes on drugs
- Group therapy classes on drugs and alcohol
- Spiritual education
- Establishing a relationship with a Higher Power
- Group therapy in religious studies
- Engagement in prayer or meditation
Many faith-based group therapy and rehab programs are designed for people who already practice a certain religion. For example, a Christian would participate in classes based on Bible study. A person who is non-religious or practices a different religion may find themselves uncomfortable in a Christian based program as they will likely find that the staff will try to convert them to their religion. For this reason, it is a good idea for someone seeking out a faith-based rehab program to find a program that follows the religion that they are affiliated with.
Another component of a faith-based program is that they treat all kinds of addiction including alcohol, food, sex, gambling or even video games. Because of the theory that lack of spirituality causes the need for such vises, religious programs can handle a wide array of addiction problems.
Group therapy is the fundamental resource faith-based programs use. In group therapy, counselors can go over individual issues and discuss common problems many people in the group share. From individual drug or alcohol problems to addiction problems, it is a chance for group members to find common ground with others. It is a place to support one another and give encouragement. This is a vital part of the recovery process as it helps people to see that they are not alone in their addiction problems. Addiction is an affliction which is shared by many. This information is a very relieving and important step in the recovery process and allows for further growth and expansion of the individual.
Group therapies can be held in gender-specific or mixed gender groups. The benefit of gender-specific groups is that it gives individuals a chance a speak openly about subjects that may be sensitive. A woman may not feel comfortable sharing her path towards addiction in a group filled with men if she is embarrassed by some of the things she may have done to get there. The same goes for men.
When recovering from addiction, feelings of blame, guilt, and shame can be overwhelming. Providing a space for individuals to feel safe and understood is a necessity. The group sessions allow individuals to relate to others as well as become closer to God. In addition to secular detox-type discussions, biblical studies and scripture study are what sets this type of program apart. In group therapy sessions, people can give themselves over to God and receive guidance from counselors and biblical text. Repairing individual relationships with God and Jesus Christ has proven to have a long-lasting effect on people. As their spiritual relationship grows they find themselves being at peace and are able to put their addictive tendencies behind them. Most of the time, for good.
“My wide examination of the relevant literature has yet to reveal a single study that has shown secular programs outperforming similar or parallel faith-based programs. The evidence—sometimes dramatically and sometimes modestly—has always pointed in the opposite direction.” This article was originally published in the Second Quarter issue of the Public Justice Report in 2001, by Stephen V. Monsma.
When trying to obtain sobriety it has been discovered that one needs to find their reason for being free from addiction. Blending this with a strong faith-based therapy group can lead to successful rehabilitation without relapse. The road less traveled is a hard and bumpy path and beating addiction is no small hurdle but faith and belief can lift one higher and make the process easier. This may be the reason that faith-based groups have such a high success rate.
Support After Recovery
When an addict has completed their recovery program and is ready to reintegrate into society as a sober, drug-free individual, they will find a host of triggers and temptations waiting to lure them back to the path of addiction. Without adequate support, some may find themselves giving into temptation and relapsing. Individuals who have completed a faith-based group therapy program often create such strong ties with their counselors, mentors, and peers that they have a lasting support group ready and waiting to help keep them clean and on the path to an addiction-free life.