Recovery groups are important. We’ve shared about some of the ways they support recovery in previous blog posts. Since then, Workit Labs conducted an analysis of Workit Health members who started treatment in 2022 for alcohol or opioids. They found that those who attended a group session within the first 60 days of their treatment had 3 times the odds of still being in care at 6 months compared to members who didn’t attend a group session within the first 60 days of their treatment.*
At Workit Health, we’re encouraging our members to take part in recovery groups so that they can get these benefits. One of the newest forms of recovery group that we’ve established is the micro-group.
What is a micro-group?
While most of our recovery group sessions (and recovery groups we’ve seen in the wider community) are an hour long, micro-groups are only 20 minutes. This tight time limit makes it a very focused session. Recovery micro-groups are guided by a therapist who facilitates discussion around a particular topic or technique.
What are the benefits of recovery micro-groups?
- Micro-groups are accessible to people who can’t commit 60 minutes at a time to a meeting. With work, caring for children or other dependents, and just wrangling our lives, it can be difficult for some of us to find a whole hour in our day to attend a recovery group. 20 minutes at a time can be much more manageable.
- Micro-groups center on practical learning. I am not bashing meetings that allow emotional processing and personal connection! Those can be vital, and are part of the appeal of mutual support groups. But sometimes we need to learn practical techniques and coping strategies that we can apply to our lives and recovery, and that’s an area where micro-groups are perfect.
- Micro-groups are focused. Each session covers a single technique, question, or phrase that has been tailored to people in recovery from substance use disorders. So you can absorb and understand that one lesson, rather than struggling to comprehend and remember multiple techniques at a time.
- Micro-groups draw from evidence-based therapeutic modalities. Because they are facilitated by licensed counselors, micro-groups incorporate techniques that have been shown to be effective therapies for people with substance use disorder, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Motivational Interviewing (MI), mindfulness, and more.
- Micro-groups are a non-threatening starting place. Recovery groups can feel intimidating if you’ve never tried them before, or if you had a bad experience with groups in a different program. A 20-minute micro-group in which you won’t be expected to share personal stories can be a great way to dip your toes in the water of recovery groups.
- Micro-groups let you test out the therapist leading the group. Workit Health offers many recovery groups for our members, and it can sometimes be difficult to tell which ones will be the right fit. A 20-minute micro-group lets you get to know the facilitator’s style, so you can decide if you might want to join one of their 60-minute groups.
- Micro-groups are an easy way to check “attended a recovery group” off your list. Many of our members are surrounded by family and friends who keep telling them they should go to a group/get therapy/talk to someone. This is because they care, but it can be a lot of pressure. Micro-groups are an easy way to reach that goal, so you can honestly tell your loved ones that yes, you are attending a therapist-led group.
Telehealth is perfect for recovery micro-groups
If micro-groups are so cool, why doesn’t everyone offer them? Well, the micro-group is a relatively new concept that fits perfectly into Workit Health’s app-based, online program but is impractical in many other situations.
VP and Clinical Director at Workit Health Clare Mulford is a licensed therapist who loves leading micro-groups. She says, “It’s a concept that is feasible because of telehealth. It’s impractical to drive 20 minutes to a brick-and-mortar office, sit in a group for 20 minutes, and then drive 20 minutes home. With virtual meetings, you can just pop in, catch a quick re-frame, and pop out again.”
Will micro-groups replace 60-minute group sessions?
No, there is still an important place for full-length group sessions. For mutual support and emotional processing, it can be important to have an accepting space where everyone can speak. That’s not practical in a 20-minute micro-group. And 60-minute group sessions can also be the right place for complex topics. Micro-groups are effective for strategic skills-building, but they won’t erase the need for full-length meetings.
*Analysis controlled for age, gender, treatment type, insurance, and state (95% CI 2.52, 3.50).