Why is group therapy used to treat teen porn addiction?

This is a commonly asked question by parents who are considering seeking counseling services for their porn addicted teen. Some parents ask this question due to their worry about the ramifications of their child participating in a group setting.  Some worry about their child’s confidentiality being breached by other group members.  Others worry about their child being exposed to youth with more pervasive problems than their own.

 A recent CDC study has estimated that one in five children in America is suffering with a mental disorder of some type and the need for quality mental health treatment for youth has never been greater.  Because of the prohibitive cost of residential treatment, more and more youth are being seen in outpatient clinics and counseling offices as concerned parents seek help for their children.

A majority of mental health clinics and offices utilize individual therapy as the primary mode of treatment.   Finding counseling offices that utilize group therapy is more difficult, despite the known benefits of using group therapy with youth.  More especially, finding counseling offices that offer group therapy specific to pornography addiction is even more difficult.  The truth is that very few exist.

 Some therapists simply prefer to not work with teens because of the difficulties involved with engaging a teen in treatment.  Many therapists shy away from using group therapy because it can be extremely difficult to run effective group therapy with youth.  It takes a highly skilled therapist to run a good group session with resistant teens.

Listed below are five benefits for the utilization of group therapy for treating pornography addiction in teens:

1.       Participation in group therapy sessions provides young people with the realization that they are not alone in their addiction and that others experience similar problems.  Youth often feel alienated from others and experience a great deal of loneliness.  Group therapy provides the opportunity for youth to feel a sense of belonging and cohesiveness.  This allows for youth to develop the skill of learning to connect and bond with others.

2.       Participation in group therapy creates opportunities for interpersonal learning by receiving feedback from each other and experimenting with new ways of relating.  “Group think” can be a powerful tool for helping youth to find new ways of approaching their problems and learning to manage pornography addiction.  This is an opportunity that simply can’t be duplicated in an individual therapy setting.

3.       The treatment group setting provides a safe setting for accountability as the youth report their efforts to manage their unwanted behaviors such as relapse into porn.  This contradicts the self-talk of many youth who tend to keep their struggles secret because of the shame they often feel.  Participation in group reduces the shame and encourages honesty and openness.   As youth progress in their treatment, they are able to begin to give back and help newer group members.  This creates self-esteem and self-worth.   Group therapy teaches youth to turn to people instead of addictions and dependencies in their time of need.

4.       Participation in group therapy instills hope to young people that they can recover from their problems and addictions.  Senior group members share their successes with newer group members and group members encourage one another to work to achieve their goals.

5.       Participation in group therapy is a more cost-effective way to provide therapy.  Psychotherapy services can be expensive, particularly for those who are not able to offset the cost with health insurance.  Group therapy sessions can be a more affordable way for parents to assure their child is in treatment each week without having to pay out of pocket for more expensive individual therapy sessions.

The Youth Pornography Addiction Center is a mental health clinic located in St. George, Utah that specializes in the treatment of children, teens and young adults.  Group therapy is a preferred method of treatment for both our wilderness program and outpatient treatment programs.  The clinic provides group therapy treatment to teens and young adults and runs group therapy sessions for substance abuse, gaming addiction, adolescent girls’ issues, pornography/sexual addiction and sexual offenses.