A group modality for significant others affected by addiction, an educational/experiential process approach

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Gemmel, Stephanie
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A group intervention delivered specifically to meet the needs of family members, significant others and those in recovery from addiction is described. Two groups, each running for 8 weeks, were held at Christie House in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The group process utilized a psycho-educational approach to educate and inform persons affected by addiction. The sessions acknowledged the important role that cognitions play while contemplating change. As a result, didactic lectures were employed to raise the group member's awareness of previously held belief systems. The sessions also included a focus on 'experiential process', wherein members could connect with guided imagery, visualizations, and journalling in the hope that the release of emotion would lead to behavioural change. Several methods of evaluation were used, including both quantitative and qualitative measures. The results suggest that there was an increase in self-esteem, decrease in isolation and a further understanding of addiction's effect on the family system and significant others. A feminist understanding to group work practice and an alternative approach to understanding codependency is presented with recommendations on future practice in this area.