The purpose of this discussion is to identify the psychotherapeutic technique used in group therapy for patients with addiction. In this example, Jake Levy is receiving exposure therapy to treat his addiction and to explore his emotions related to posttraumatic stress disorder from his time spent in the military. An alternative approach of cognitive-behavioral therapy will also be evaluated for its efficacy in addressing the needs of this patient in the group setting.
In this example, the group facilitator uses exposure therapy address alcoholism as a product of posttraumatic stress disorder and other problems which impact the Levy family. Exposure therapy is a common option for veterans with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and can provide clarity and validation regarding their experiences, allowing them to understand why they engage in other behaviors such as addiction (Castillo et al., 2016). This option is important in addressing some of the most challenging aspects of the veteran’s experience and why he now engages in alcohol abuse to mask his fears and trauma. With this therapeutic perspective, it is likely that Jake Levy will better understand his behavior and why he drinks to numb his pain, thereby causing additional pain and suffering to his family and to himself. In a group setting, exposure therapy will likely benefit each member of the group in the identification of addictive thoughts and behaviors. For patients such as Jake Levy, exposure therapy may be very difficult for persons to endure and can cause additional symptoms related to PTSD (Markowitz et al,. 2015). Nonetheless, this therapy can have a positive effect on Jake over time when he can associate his past experiences with his current behaviors. This therapy is used by some therapists because it supports the identification of deeply-rooted issues which lead to current decisions such as alcohol abuse that can devastate patients and their families.
I would use a similar approach as a group facilitator to support patients with addiction who have symptoms of PTSD which drive many of their behaviors because it allows them to share a deeply personal and traumatic set of experiences and understand how they impact their actions outside of the military and in a regular environment.
Alternative Approach to Group Therapy and Appropriateness of this Option
An alternative therapy to consider is cognitive-behavioral therapy because it allows patients to better understand the nature and causes of their self-destructive actions and why alcohol is used as an escape route to dull the pain of other experiences and traumas. This option is a feasible alternative because it can benefit patients with continued use in group settings. Furthermore, it can address Jake Levy’s history in the military as a driver in understanding his current behaviors related to substance abuse. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is an effective option for alcohol abuse because it allows patients to learn new coping skills to address interpersonal problems such as social situations and conflicts, along with intrapersonal issues such as anger and craving alcohol (Litt, Kadden, Tennen, & Kabela-Cormier, 2016). With this therapeutic perspective, it is likely that patients will experience some relief and may begin to unravel their addictive behaviors by understanding why alcohol is used as a means of escape.
Alcohol abuse is a serious and debilitating problem with many causes and often requires group therapeutic interventions to support patients and to engage them in positive behaviors. Many veterans may engage in substance abuse in different forms because they are traumatized by their past experiences in military action and have developed PTSD; therefore, they use alcohol or other substances as a means of escaping reality. Exposure therapy is used in the group setting to allow patients to explore their demons and to understand how these experiences drive their current actions. This option is feasible in group therapeutic sessions, but other therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy may also be an effective alternative.
- Castillo, D. T., Chee, C. L., Nason, E., Keller, J., C’de Baca, J., Qualls, C., … & Keane, T. M. (2016). Group-delivered cognitive/exposure therapy for PTSD in women veterans: A randomized controlled trial. Psychological trauma: theory, research, practice, and policy, 8(3), 404.
- Litt, M. D., Kadden, R. M., Tennen, H., & Kabela-Cormier, E. (2016). Network Support II: Randomized controlled trial of Network Support treatment and cognitive behavioral therapy for alcohol use disorder. Drug and alcohol dependence, 165, 203-212.
- Markowitz, J. C., Petkova, E., Neria, Y., Van Meter, P. E., Zhao, Y., Hembree, E., … & Marshall, R. D. (2015). Is exposure necessary? A randomized clinical trial of interpersonal sychotherapy for PTSD. American Journal of Psychiatry, 172(5), 430-440.