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Int J Group Psychother. 1991 Jul;41(3):269-93.

Approaches to chemical dependency: chemical dependency and interactive group therapy--a synthesis.

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  • 1Stanford Alcohol and Drug Treatment Center, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Stanford University.


Though the focus on interpersonal interaction is a powerful therapeutic factor in group therapy, traditional chemical dependency therapy groups generally fail to employ the interactional group orientation. An interactional approach can be effectively applied to alcoholics if the following guidelines are observed: (1) recovery is always accorded priority, (2) the patient accepts identification as an alcoholic, (3) anxiety is carefully modulated, (4) the proper distinction is made between what the alcoholic is and is not responsible for, (5) the therapist is thoroughly familiar with Alcoholics Anonymous language, steps, and traditions. It is important that therapists not permit misperceptions of A.A. to be used as therapy resistance and that they be able to harness the wisdom of A.A. for psychotherapeutic ends. Group therapists must also be prepared to deal with common themes arising in the treatment of the alcoholic patient: idealization, devaluation, externalization, defiance, grandiosity, conning, and avoidance.

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