Effective Group Therapy Solutions for Veterans With Addiction and Mental Health Needs

Last Updated: March 1, 2024

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When joining a substance use treatment program, participants can expect to partake in a range of therapeutic activities, encompassing both one-on-one and group counseling sessions. For veterans embarking on their journey towards healing, participating in group therapy tailored to address their unique experiences and requirements is essential for their recovery.

Group Therapy in Rehabilitation: Building a Supportive Community

In addiction treatment programs, individuals engage in various services, including group therapy, which plays a pivotal role in facilitating recovery. For veterans navigating the journey of rehabilitation, customized group therapy sessions tailored to their unique backgrounds and experiences form a cornerstone of healing.

Group Therapy for Addressing Mental Health Needs

Veterans undergoing rehabilitation often participate in group therapy sessions to address mental health concerns. These may encompass a spectrum of conditions such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and co-occurring substance use disorders. Recent studies have demonstrated the efficacy of group therapy in alleviating symptoms of depression and PTSD among veterans, showcasing its potential to aid in their recovery journey.

Unlocking the Benefits of Group Therapy for Veterans

Recognizing the value of group therapy, the Veterans Administration emphasizes its benefits for veterans. According to VA clinical psychologists, group therapy offers a multitude of advantages:

  • Enhanced social skills: Participation in group therapy fosters interaction, aiding veterans in developing healthy communication patterns and improving social skills.
  • Emotional connection: Group settings provide a platform for veterans to connect with peers who comprehend their experiences, offering a sense of emotional belonging and camaraderie.
  • Skill development: Group therapy sessions serve as avenues for acquiring and practicing coping strategies, empowering veterans with effective tools to manage challenges.
  • Support network: Fellow group members serve as a vital support system, offering empathy, understanding, and encouragement throughout the recovery process.
  • Safe environment: Within the group setting, veterans feel secure to share their experiences and vulnerabilities, fostering a sense of safety and trust.
  • Diverse perspectives: Exposure to varied perspectives in group therapy sessions broadens veterans’ understanding of coping mechanisms, promoting empathy and insight into others’ struggles.

Exploring Topics in Group Therapy Sessions

Group therapy sessions encompass a range of topics tailored to veterans’ needs, including:

  • Readjusting to civilian life
  • Strengthening familial relationships
  • Coping with daily stressors
  • Understanding mental health disorders and symptoms
  • Developing strategies for symptom management
  • Addressing substance misuse and preventing relapse
  • Challenging unhelpful thought patterns

Therapeutic Approaches in Group Therapy

Therapists employ diverse modalities in group therapy sessions, including:

  • Cognitive processing therapy (CPT) for PTSD
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for modifying thought patterns
  • Present-centered therapy for addressing current challenges
  • Mindfulness interventions for stress management

Facilitating Group Therapy Sessions

Licensed counselors or therapists, ideally trained in veteran-centric care, lead group therapy sessions. At The Recovery Village, clinicians in the FORTITUDE program undergo specialized training in military cultural competency to cater to veterans’ unique needs.

Frequency of Group Therapy Across Treatment Levels

The frequency of group therapy varies based on the treatment level. Inpatient and residential facilities offer more frequent sessions, while partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs provide varying levels of group therapy based on weekly service hours.

Maximizing Benefits: Tips for Veterans

To maximize the benefits of group therapy, veterans are encouraged to actively engage by:

  • Sharing openly during sessions
  • Listening to peers’ experiences and insights
  • Embracing the supportive environment
  • Overcoming nervousness by recognizing the safety of the group setting

Discover Our FORTITUDE Specialty Track for Veterans

For veterans seeking comprehensive care, The Recovery Village offers the FORTITUDE program, catering to addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. With exclusive support groups tailored for veterans and first responders, our specialized services aim to guide veterans towards lasting recovery. Contact our Veteran Advocates today to embark on your treatment journey.


Resick, Patricia A., et al. “Effect of Group vs Individual Cognitive Processing Therapy in Active-Duty Military Seeking Treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” JAMA Psychiatry, 2017. Accessed November 12, 2023. 

Lamp, K.E., et al. “Individual and group cognitive processing therapy: Effectiveness across two Veterans Affairs posttraumatic stress disorder treatment clinics.” Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 2019. Accessed November 12, 2023. 

Inoue, Catarina, et al. “Veteran and Military Mental Health Issues.” StatPearls Publishing, January 2023. Accessed November 12, 2023. 

Patín-Betancourt, Yahaira. “Benefits of Group Therapy Sessions for PTSD.” U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, June 26, 2023. Accessed November 13, 2023. 

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “PTSD.” August 23, 2023. Accessed November 13, 2023.

Thompson-Hollands, Johanna, et al. “Alliance across group treatment for veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder: The role of interpersonal trauma and treatment type.” Group Dynamics, March 2018. Accessed November 13, 2023. 

Marchand, William R., et al. “Mindfulness-based interventions for military veterans: A systematic review and analysis of the literature.” Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, February 2021. Accessed November 13, 2023. 

Medicaid Innovation Accelerator Program. “Overview of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Care Clinical Guidelines: A Resource for States Developing SUD Delivery System Reforms.” April 2017. Accessed November 13, 2023.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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