A Comparative Analysis: Group Therapy vs Individual Therapy for Mental Health Treatment

This article will provide a comprehensive comparison between group therapy and individual therapy as approaches to mental health treatment.


This article will conduct a comparative analysis of group therapy and individual therapy as modalities for mental health treatment. It’s important to understand the unique benefits and considerations associated with each approach in order to make an informed treatment decision if you are looking for help with a mental health disorder.

Group Therapy Discussion

Understanding Group Therapy

Group therapy is, as the name suggests, a type of therapy where people get together in a group setting. Types can include the following:

  1. Psychoeducational groups that provide education about specific mental health conditions
  2. Skills development groups that provide the skills needed to cope with symptoms
  3. Cognitive-behavioral groups provide guidance on changing thoughts and actions that might contribute to or exacerbate mental health conditions
  4. Support groups which provide support for members about managing their condition on a daily basis
  5. Interpersonal process groups that tackle developmental issues that might contribute to or interfere with mental health

-Benefits of Group Therapy

One benefit of group therapy is the flexibility. Many group therapy sessions are in a relaxed setting like a community office or a church building, and they may not be as intimidating. Those types of support groups, which run indefinitely, could allow you the flexibility to come and go whenever you need to rather than demand that you come every week.

-Considerations for Group Therapy


With individual therapy vs. group therapy, you might be worried about the size. Different group therapy sessions will have stable and relatively small numbers of clients. Others might have revolving clients, with people entering a group whenever they need it.


With group therapy vs. individual therapy, group therapy can be designed for a specific length of time or it can run indefinitely. Things like support groups might be indefinite groups that are always having meetings that you can attend whenever you need.


Group vs. individual therapy differs in leadership. Some group therapy sessions have leaders who help prepare or encourage participation from other clients. There may be groups where responsibilities are spread among everyone or groups where a single mental health professional is in charge.


One consideration for individual vs. group therapy is that group therapy doesn’t focus as much on personal goals but rather on providing support or education. This means that it works well as a complementary therapy to individual sessions, but it may be insufficient if you are trying to develop a grander mental health plan, set goals for management, and make progress with moderate to severe conditions. 

Exploring Individual Therapy

Individual therapy is, also as the name suggests, a modality where you meet one-on-one with a therapist, and there’s no one else present, nor do you have to participate in group discussions. Just as there are different approaches used to group therapy, you can find an individual therapist who specializes in different modalities as well, like cognitive behavioral therapy or other forms of psychoeducation.

-Benefits of Individual Therapy

One of the biggest benefits of individual therapy is the fact that you can develop a professional relationship with your therapist. Over time, they cannot only dedicate more time to getting to know you, your history, and your symptoms, but they can deeply explore potential causes or triggers associated with your mental health struggles.

You don’t get the same one-on-one time in a group setting, nor can you develop deeper working relationships, which may or may not be something you prefer.

-Considerations for Individual Therapy


With individual therapy vs. group therapy, size is a significant difference. If you are uncomfortable with discussing mental health symptoms in a group setting and you prefer to meet with someone one-on-one, individual therapy might be better.


With group therapy vs. individual therapy, individual therapy is typically designated for a specific length of time. You will meet with a therapist and go over your current situation and the goals you want to achieve. Then, you will decide how long you want to work together in order to achieve those goals. You might also be limited in the duration based on how much it costs and how many sessions are covered by insurance.


Group vs. individual therapy differs in leadership. Whereas group therapy sessions may not have a designated leader or they might have a volunteer leader, individual therapy is clearly led by the psychiatrist or psychologist, and they guide you through the discussions each week and support you with things like homework or personal tasks in between sessions. 


One consideration for individual vs. group therapy is that individual therapy provides that one-on-one opportunity to not only explore causes and triggers but also to learn how to better manage your symptoms based on your lifestyle, activities, and personal needs. You have a better opportunity to develop and progress toward personal goals with your therapist there to help you.

Couples Therapy Vs Individual Therapy

Comparative Analysis

If possible, you should consider participation in both the socialization aspect of group sessions and the support aspect of networking with other people, which can bolster the improvements made in individual therapy.

However, it’s still important to look at a comparative analysis of individual therapy vs. group therapy if you have to choose between them.

-Effectiveness and Efficacy

Both individual and group therapy are considered effective in treating mental health disorders. But some are more effective than others, depending on the situation.

For example: 

If you are struggling with an antisocial personality disorder, your prognosis will be improved with individual therapy long before you participate in group therapy based on the nature of the condition. By comparison, if you are struggling with a depressive disorder, the support aspect of group settings might be more beneficial.

-Considerations and Suitability

Group therapy is something you should consider if:

  1. You are already taking individual therapy, and you want additional support.
  2. You have mild symptoms and are looking for education or support in managing those symptoms.

Individual therapy is something you should consider if:

  1. You are trying to handle a new diagnosis and navigate your treatment options
  2. You have moderate to severe symptoms and need personalized support in managing them

You also have to consider the cost. With group therapy vs. individual therapy, you might find that group therapy is significantly cheaper because each member contributes to the overall cost, whereas individual therapy can cost hundreds of dollars per session.

If you are looking for help with a mental health disorder and you have a diagnosis or plan to get a diagnosis, all health insurance providers are required by federal law to provide funding to cover basic mental health needs, including individual and group therapy sessions. 

You might be limited in terms of the number of individual sessions that are covered or the types of therapists that qualify, but in general, the majority, if not all, of your costs should be covered by health insurance.

Summing up

When looking at a comparative analysis of group therapy vs. individual therapy, you can see that they both have different benefits in terms of size, leadership structure, and duration. You have to consider your personal preferences, treatment goals, and unique needs when choosing between these therapeutic modalities.