Group Therapy vs Individual Therapy Explained

Psychotherapies like talk therapies are a popular treatment approach for a variety of mental health illnesses. The two most popular types of these therapies are group therapy vs individual therapy which are relatively equivalent in their effectiveness.

People suffering from addiction or any mental disorder are subjected to either type as per the extent of their disease and needs.

This is a comparison article between group therapy and individual therapy. It focuses on how the two are related and different. So, if you want to explore them, keep reading.

Group therapy

What is group therapy?

Group therapy, as indicated by its name, occurs in groups. This treatment approach works in a setting involving two or more individuals with similar issues and concerns. They usually interact with each other, share their problems and listen to each other. The therapist of the group creates an environment of trust and mutual respect so that people can come out without any hesitation.

There can be one or more therapists running the group session, it all depends on the situation and the group of people in the session.

What is individual therapy?

Individual therapy, in contrast to group therapy, occurs in a private setting like a one-on-one session between the therapist and the patient. This is usually a patient-centered treatment approach. The therapist usually explores the problems and symptoms of the patient and suggests practices to alleviate them as much as possible.

The goals of individual vs group therapy

Both, group and individual therapy, differ in their goals and expectations. Here is how.

Group therapies have two major goals including process goals and outcome goals. The former is related to the process of the therapy. For instance, the patient must not only be able to understand his/her concerns but also relate them to other people in the group. It will help them heal very well and quickly. However, the outcome goals refer to the behavioral changes in the individual seeking group therapy. They should learn from the experiences of others and should make relevant changes in their life to cope with the situation.

Group therapy also aims at;

  •   Offering a supportive and positive environment for the patients to interact easily and healthily.
  •   Reducing the feelings of loneliness and bringing people together for emotional support
  •   Providing positive feedback during troubled situations

On the other hand, the primary goal of individual therapies is to provide an individual with a better understanding of their thoughts and behaviors so that they can make the required modifications to enhance their function and improve their well-being.

In these therapies, people learn how to manage their interpersonal difficulties and develop an ability to make healthy, informed decisions for a better lifestyle.

The sessions and treatment approaches are designed on the type of illness, background, and experiences of the patient. Thus, you can expect your therapist to be a little inquisitive about you.

Difference between individual and group therapy

You must be well aware of the therapies by now, but for additional understanding here are some potential differences between individual and group therapy.

First of all, one client and one counselor work together in individual therapy. Multiple clients and occasionally multiple counselors participate in group therapy.

This clear distinction affects how sessions proceed, what is discussed, and how relationships and alliances are built between clients and counselors.

For instance, the one-on-one nature of individual therapy may allow for the discussion of more delicate subjects and intimate issues than in a group setting. However, that doesn’t imply that private matters aren’t covered in group therapy.

Each member of a group is free to discuss their struggles in their unique way. This has a significant impact on the session, how it goes, and the conclusions that are drawn.

Additionally, group therapy frequently focuses on a single issue that connects people while an individual session may focus on different issues faced by the patient.

Individual therapy

The pros and cons

To help you decide better, we’ve got a list of pros and cons for group and individual therapy. Here they are:

  •  Benefits of Group Therapy

The most important advantage of group therapy is the ability to collaborate with others to form a strong group. You will come to know that other individuals have had similar challenges and that you are not alone.

You may be able to band together with others and solve problems together if you feel a sense of belonging. People who are recovering from substance abuse benefit most from it.

Additionally, it offers a chance to promote modeling i.e. the process of copying what others do while learning. In group therapy, you can observe what behaviors are effective and imitate them.

  •   Weaknesses of group therapy

The following are possible drawbacks of group therapy:

  1.   Less chance for one-on-one interaction
  2.   The issues raised might not be pertinent to you
  3.   Not the same level of privacy as in individual counseling
  4. ·   Some group members might not be cooperative
  • Advantages of Individual therapy

Confidentiality is the main advantage of one-on-one counseling. In a private setting, you might feel more at ease sharing personal details. Unless they are obliged to violate confidentiality, only the therapist you are dealing with will be aware of what you are going through. There can be a breach of privacy if you are actively suicidal or taking steps to endanger the safety of others.

Additionally, individual treatment fosters a closer bond between the therapist and the client. When a therapist is entirely focused on you during a session, they are better able to comprehend what you are going through, explore your concerns in-depth, and create a unique therapy plan that meets your needs.

  • Disadvantages of Individual therapy

The only disadvantage of individual therapy is that you have fewer opportunities to learn about people with comparable problems and how they handle their challenges. If you have trouble expressing your emotions or having faith in other people, being the only one in the room may be difficult.

Group vs individual therapy – What to choose?

We hope that you have developed a good concept about both therapy types but you can never decide which one is better just by reading. The issues you are facing are the sole determinants of which therapy will work for you. So, sit with a professional mental health counselor, discuss your problems and then decide what to choose.

Your counselor may help you to explore the benefits of group therapy over individual therapy or vice versa and can guide you better.