Group Therapy vs. Individual Therapy: Which One Is Right For You?

Group Therapy vs. Individual Therapy: Which One Is Right For You?

From a psychological point of view, life can be an endless struggle. While everyone experiences adversity, setbacks, missteps, and everything in between, it doesn’t necessarily mean that a situation is entirely hopeless. There are many different approaches to managing hardships and the effects. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon that some choose unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drugs and alcohol. But as the internet makes it easier for people to receive help, many are beginning to consider the importance of mental health. Psychotherapy has proven to address trauma and addiction recovery effectively. Let’s discuss the different options available.                      

Mental health awareness is now more widespread than ever. In light of the ongoing pandemic, many people have started to appreciate the importance of maintaining mental health and are now embracing the practice of psychotherapy. Psychotherapists specialize in helping clients see, think, and feel more clearly, depending on the particular technique implemented. They treat a range of general and specific problems, from a distressed mind to far more serious psychological disorders. Here are some important things that you need to know about two types of therapy: group therapy vs. individual treatment. 

group therapy vs. individual therapy

What is Psychotherapy?

Stigma is strongly connected to terms like therapy and counseling. Those who seek help often have to endure shame stemming from this stigma. While therapy is more normalized than ever, the sad fact remains that the reason most do not seek help for mental illness is they are concerned with how others will perceive them. Healthline reports that up to 75% of Americans don’t seek the help they need. 

But what is psychotherapy? How is it used in group and individual settings? 

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) defines psychotherapy as a type of talk treatment that addresses difficulties in coping with daily life, such as:

  • Impact of trauma
  • Medical illness
  • Death of a loved one
  • Mental disorders like depression or anxiety
  • Drug and alcohol addiction

Psychotherapists and counselors typically offer flexible therapy sessions. In general, the goals of treatment and arrangements for how often and how long to meet are planned jointly by the client and the therapist. Therapy is conducted in many different ways, including:

  • Individual
  • Family
  • Couple
  • Group settings

There are numerous benefits and some disadvantages for seeking group therapy vs individual therapy. Here’s some pertinent information to consider. 

What is Group Therapy?

Depending on the nature of your problem, group therapy can be an ideal choice for addressing your concerns and allowing for community support as you move through recovery. 

The APA defines group therapy as therapy sessions that involve one or more psychologists who lead a group of roughly five to 15 clients. Most group therapy sessions last for an hour or two every week. Some people choose to combine group therapy and individual therapy. 

For drug addiction group therapy, sessions typically consist of groups of people who are facing a common concern or illness such as alcohol addiction, drug addiction, anger, social loneliness, grief, anxiety, stress, chronic pain, marital problems, loss of a loved one, obesity, panic, low self-esteem, or obesity.

Advantages of Group Therapy

The advantages of group therapy are the rewards from large-group support received from a counselor or therapist, as well as those sharing common struggles. There are many things to consider when weighing group therapy vs individual therapy options. Here are some clear advantages of joining groups online or in-person:

  • People report that interacting with others sharing a common concern or issue is rewarding and reassuring.
  • Group therapy offers both expert advice from an empathetic treatment professional and a support network of peers.
  • In group therapy, participants have a sounding board for their struggles and triumphs.
  • Members of the group can often offer ideas for improving difficulties and challenges. 
  • Members offer an ‘external’ conscience making participants accountable for their actions.
  • Regular opportunities to talk and listen to others help participants realize that they are not alone. It helps put their problems in perspective. 
  • Members often forge friendships that last well beyond group therapy sessions.
  • Offers an opportunity to speak openly about sorrow, mental illness, addiction, obesity, fear, loneliness, and other stigma-related issues.

The diversity of membership in group therapy is an important benefit. Group members learn that people have widely varying personalities, needs, supporters, family backgrounds, and situations. These differences provide a wealth of ways to deal with a shared problem.

Drug Addiction Group Therapy Benefits

Drug and alcohol addiction is growing at alarming rates nationwide. Therapists, counselors and drug treatment specialists are exploring how mental health therapy can address substance use disorders. 

A recent analysis conducted by the Berkeley Research Group found that if the current rise in drug, alcohol and suicde death trends continue — over the next decade, these three epidemics would be expected to result in more than 1.6 million deaths (by 2025). This would represent a 60% increase over the current level. 

Research at the National Institutes of Health asserts that, “the natural propensity of human beings to congregate makes group therapy a powerful therapeutic tool for treatment of substance abuse, one that is as helpful as individual therapy, and sometimes more powerful.”

The efficacy of group therapy is closely studied and many conclusions suggest that group treatment reduces isolation as well as allows members to witness recovery of others. Group therapy has proven suitable for treatment problems that commonly accompany substance abuse (co-occurring disorders) such as depression, isolation, and shame. 

Benefits of Group Therapy for Addiction Treatment

It’s not unusual for individuals suffering from substance use disorder to hide their disease from loved ones. Operating in secret can fuel substance dependency. Group therapy provides an accessible method for individuals to feel less alone and afraid to share struggles with drugs and alcohol. Other benefits include:

  • Through discussion of shared struggles with the same problems, individuals gain insight, knowledge, and problem-solving skills.
  • Praise from other group members encourages members and builds self-esteem.
  • The social interaction of the group hastens rehab and re-entry into family and community life.
  • Observing the maladaptive behaviors of group members may assist individuals in building positive interaction.
  • Group therapy encourages the involvement of family members in rehabilitation. The sympathy and understanding of the group prompt individuals to be more open about their problems.

Group members understand and tolerate emotional outbursts, self-destructive tendencies, and lack of logic that would be unacceptable in other situations. At the same time, group support helps individuals develop healthy ways to deal with their problems and more acceptable social skills. 

In group therapy, individuals have an audience for role play or open discussion on a specific subject matter, fear, or story. The feedback aids in long-term recovery. By trying on new solutions for the safety of the group, individuals develop positive interactions they can use in their home, work, and community.

Group therapy sessions tend to be less expensive than one-on-one counseling. Some group therapy may even be free. 

Disadvantages of Group Therapy

The Institute of Counseling cautions that there are some problems with group therapy. Whether online or face-to-face, group therapy requires that individuals admit to a problem and air personal information to a group of strangers. This can be so daunting that some simply avoid it, which limits access to needed care. 

Many feel anxious or inhibited. Others are nervous about sharing their thoughts, fears, and what they see as failures. Those who feel uncomfortable in any type of social situation do not enjoy group therapy. Consequently, they do not benefit from the support of those in the group.

Other disadvantages include:

  • Group therapy sessions may occur at times and/or in locations that cause problems for individual participation.
  • The fear of interacting intimately with strangers may preclude any success of group therapy.
  • There may be personality clashes among group members that can threaten the potential benefits of group therapy.
  • Aggressive behaviors or hostile remarks may sabotage the potential benefits of group therapy.
  • Some voices emerge that are more dominant than others. It can create an imbalance in being seen and heard for individual struggles. 
  • A bond must develop among group members. If changes occur during the therapy period, this can lead to a breakdown.

Those in such crisis as suicide are not candidates for group therapy. 

is group therapy right for me

What is Individual Therapy?

Weighing group therapy vs individual therapy can single out an option that may seem right for you. Sometimes it’s ideal to speak with an alcohol or drug addiction treatment specialist about different options or a combination of group and individual therapy. Contact AspenRidge AspenRidge Virtual Care directly at (720) 650-8055.

CBT Psychology defines individual therapy as counseling in which a trained professional works one-on-one with a client. The therapy may occur face-to-face or online and can incorporate a wide variety of methodologies such as:

Individual therapy is extremely effective for addiction when it is used for long-term intervention. It is also the preferred method when a patient is in crisis.

Individual therapy helps clients overcome problems that affect their sense of self-worth. Those in therapy report feeling more compassionate and confident. They learn to make healthy choices and reach life goals. Many find the therapy sessions enjoyable and fulfilling.

Advantages of Individual Therapy

  • Deep-seated fears, guilt, negative experiences, and perceived failures are more likely to be revealed in individual, one-on-one therapy. It can make the process intimidating. 
  • Many believe only a qualified therapist will keep their information confidential.
  • Private conversations are kept confidential.
  • Individual therapy often deals with deeper problems specific to the individual.
  • Treatment sessions are likely to be more flexible and more tailored.
  • Individual therapy doesn’t waste time rehearsing problems the patient doesn’t personally have.
  • Therapy lasts as long as the client and therapist determine. A tailored approach is sometimes more effective than general treatment offered by group therapy. 
  • Individual therapy is more suited to problems like obsessive-compulsive disorders, anxiety disorders, and social phobias. 

Individual Therapy for Addiction

Overcoming detrimental habits of prescription misuse, street drugs or alcohol abuse is a major achievement. However, addiction is a chronic relapsing disorder that creates a loss of control. Unfortunately, long-term recovery requires support and skillset building that allows an individual to thrive with an entry back into society. Individual therapy has proven to provide long-term care for individuals who are moving toward life-long sobriety. 

Certain psychological factors can be powerful triggers that lead to relapse including:

  • Stress
  • Environmental factors
  • Social circles
  • Death or loss
  • Isolation

It’s important to find online alcohol and drug treatment help that addresses underlying mental health disorders as well as treats substance abuse. 

group therapy and individual therapy

AspenRidge’s AspenRidge Virtual Care Online Counseling Programs

To meet the needs of their clients, AspenRidge’s licensed board-certified staff provides a wide range of group and individual therapy counseling and rehab programs exclusively online. Programs include.

AspenRidge’s AspenRidge Virtual Care online program offers both individual and group therapy for those battling alcohol and drug addiction, as well as with co-occurring conditions. AspenRidge Virtual Care counselors are trained to facilitate online counseling via our private, HIPAA compliant video chat. 

For more information about the AspenRidge Virtual Care program call 720-650-8055. Trained intake professionals are there 24/7. Let’s discuss which of AspenRidge’s varied treatment options will work best for you.

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