Group therapy is very different than a 12-step meeting. Many people confuse the two. 12-step meetings are self help meetings with a certain structure and philosophic base, but do not constitute treatment or therapy. Group therapy is a structured form of treatment that is facilitated by a therapist, usually with a specific topic or focus. The therapist often follows a certain psychotherapeutic philosophy when leading the group. Group therapy that follows a Cognitive Behavioral or Dialectical Behavioral model will often provide a nice complement to an existing 12-step program or provide a viable alternative for someone who is not 12-step receptive. Groups that are run in outpatient settings tend to have run for a much longer course than those in an inpatient setting, which allows them to go deeper into pertinent issues. A key reason for this is that the clients will remain engaged in the same group for many months or even years, which allows for extensive processing. Inpatient groups will have turned over their entire client roster within 4 to 8 weeks, so they never get the opportunity for deeper processing of issues.
The same problem exists with individual therapy done during inpatient care. Because most inpatient treatment courses are no longer than 30-60 days, there is too little time to develop the type of therapist-client relationship that is necessary to even begin to explore an individual’s deeper issues. Outpatient therapists have the distinct advantage of time, which allows them to develop the necessary therapeutic relationship with their patients so that they can engage in meaningful therapy work. Effective individual psychotherapy work for a given set of issues will often take no less than 9 months and typically takes a few years. Doing therapy to explore the root causes of or contributors to an individual’s addiction is very beneficial but can never be done quickly. The role of an individual therapist cannot be filled by neither a recovery coach nor a sponsor. The scope of training of a recovery coach is far too brief to qualify them for any kind of treatment. Sponsors are important contributors to the 12-step system but have no professional training and should never assume any type of clinical role.