Group Therapy vs. Individual Therapy: A Look into the Differences

When you think of therapy, you often think of one-on-one sessions with a counselor and their client. However, group counseling is just as common as individual counseling sessions. 

  • Individual therapy occurs when one person is in counseling with a therapist, psychologist, counselor, or psychiatrist.
  • Group therapy is done in an entirely different setting and provides a different approach as it is done in groups of 2 or more individuals.

No matter if you’re participating in individual or group therapy, both are still associated with any type of treatment program. These treatments include psychoanalytic treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy, client-centered therapy, supportive therapy, and more. 

In both types of therapy, the therapist’s background is not relevant in deciding if one type of therapy is more effective than the other. 

Once you’ve decided that therapy is right for you, and possibly for your family – a qualified therapist determines the best type of therapy will be most beneficial. This article discusses the difference between group therapy and individual therapy, providing you with important insight that everyone should have when assessing their options.

Individual Therapy

Individual therapy allows you to discuss uncomfortable emotions, thoughts, or behaviors. These private sessions allow you to acquire self-knowledge, insight into their behavior, and provide a stronger sense of identity. 

Advantages of Individual Therapy

There are many advantages that individual therapy provides. Some of these advantages are:

  • You feel comfortable providing personal information you may feel embarrassed or ashamed of. You and the therapist are the only ones who know these issues. There are some circumstances where the therapist is duty-bound to break the confidentiality, such as – suicidal thoughts or tendencies, threatening the safety of yourself or others, and any abuse of another adult or child. 
  • You are the only one who knows you’re in therapy. 
  • In addition, the pace and frequency of your sessions are tailored to your needs.
  • Your relationship to the therapist is more intimate, allowing the therapist to uncover any disorders along with other issues and address them with you in a safe setting.
  • You and the therapist work together to solve issues.

Potential Disadvantages of Individual Therapy

While the list of advantages seems all-encompassing and may feel like the best option for you, there are some disadvantages to this form of therapy. 

Those disadvantages are:

  • You miss out on the opportunity to model behaviors of individuals who are successfully navigating a similar issue.
  • You miss out on the opportunity to learn how others with similar problems address their issues.
  • You may not like having the total focus on yourself, some people have difficulty communicating feelings and trusting others on a one-on-one basis.
  • Individual therapy is typically more expensive than group therapy sessions.

Group Therapy

Most times, group therapy offers you the opportunity to learn new coping techniques, practice communication skills, and gain strength from your peers. 

Group therapy is generally thought of as being used during addiction recovery, there are also groups that address other issues, such as grief, survival from illness, and family members struggling with addiction.

Advantages of Group Therapy

Group therapy often forms around a common circumstance, there is a wealth of input from the diverse member experiences. Some members share their stories and help others see their own situation in a new way. 

This creates profound connections allowing individuals to develop healthier coping skills, learn to trust, and create better relationships with others. 

Some advantages of group therapy are:

  • Groups communicate a sense of belonging. Each member understands that they are not alone and it creates a shared sense of togetherness.
  • Each member is allowed to share their own experience to help others learn from and help each other.
  • Group therapy provides a sense of hope and encouragement seeing other members talk about their own successes.
  • You become more self-aware as you begin to learn the underlying reasons for why you do the things you do and the root cause of negative behaviors.
  • You learn how to model your behavior based on what works successfully for others in the group. This leads to better coping skills and possibly better relationships in your personal life.
  • Group therapy sessions are typically less than the cost of individual therapy.

Potential Disadvantages of Group Therapy

Just like individual therapy, group therapy also has its own drawbacks. 

Some of these disadvantages are:

  • Less opportunity for personal attention.
  • Some issues discussed may not be relevant to all group members.
  • There is not the same level of confidentiality when working within a group therapy setting. Even if members agree to not discuss events or individuals outside of therapy, there are no guarantees or ethical standards to prevent them from sharing outside of the group.
  • Some members may not fully participate in the process and expect others to make up for their lack of participation.
  • The pace may be too slow or too fast for some group members.

Make the Best Decision for Your Needs

Individual therapy and group therapy can be effective for treating nearly every type of stressor, psychological issue, or problem addressed within a therapeutic environment. The choice to become involved in either group or individual therapy depends on different factors like affordability, comfort level, and the type of situation needing to be addressed.

Neither type of therapy is better than the other, but each has its own approach to reach the same goal.

Let Us Help

At Lisa Rogers Counseling, we offer a wide range of therapy and mental health services for several areas. You are not alone in your struggle and neither are your loved ones.  Reach out to us today to make an appointment.

We provide services in:

  • Adult Therapy: Individual, Marriage, Couples and Group Therapy
  • Child Therapy: Group therapy, family therapy, social skills, play therapy
  • Adolescent Therapy: Individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, substance abuse

Current services are all available via Teletherapy now during the pandemic. Contact us for more information. 

Since 1993, I have been providing a combination of all my years of training tailoring specific treatments based on the individual needs and challenges of my patients, facilitating healing. I make every effort to accommodate the busy schedules of my patients by offering evenings, weekend appointments and Telemental Health (Online Counseling-Virtual/Video Conference and Phone Sessions) offered in the following states I am licensed in: New York, California, Illinois, Texas, New Jersey, Florida, and Vermont.