Group vs Individual Therapy — Which Is Right for You?

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Group vs Individual Therapy — Which Is Right for You?

A group therapy session at Hope Springs.

Therapy can be an integral part of mental health and substance abuse treatment, among other concerns. These sessions come in many different forms and styles, including both group and individual therapy. If you’re wondering whether individual or group therapists are more appropriate for your circumstances, let’s take a look at the benefits that both offer and how they differ.

Benefits of Group Therapy

Social Support

Healing from mental health problems can be challenging alone — but that’s not the case for group counseling. You’ll meet others who are struggling with the same issues that you are, allowing you to share experiences and support one another. This peer interaction makes group therapy a great way to develop a support network that will make it easier to move forward and endure your particular hardships. In addition, seeing others go through what you are lets you know that you’re not alone, which can be motivational.

Further, group therapy can cultivate a sense of belonging and camaraderie among group members. This support extends beyond each session, as group members often form strong connections — offering each other encouragement and understanding in their struggles. This sense of community can be particularly advantageous for individuals dealing with mental health disorders and can significantly improve interpersonal relationships, boost self-esteem, and aid in the recovery process.

Behavior Modeling

Group therapy also offers the advantage of allowing patients to model behaviors and coping skills from other group members, which they can’t do alone in individual therapy. Within group therapy sessions, individuals observe and learn from their peers — gaining insights into various ways of dealing with their challenges. Whether it’s cognitive-behavioral techniques, relapse prevention training, or communication skills, the opportunity to learn others’ strategies can be very helpful.

Some group members often serve as role models, sharing their successes and setbacks, which can be invaluable for those working on their mental health or substance use disorder recovery. This modeling of behaviors and skills is a unique aspect of group psychotherapy that can have a profound impact on individuals seeking mental health services.

Differing Perspectives

During group therapy sessions, you’ll hear accounts and experiences from others just like you. In a group setting, individuals from various backgrounds share their personal stories, experiences, and viewpoints. This diversity of perspectives can broaden an individual’s understanding of their own challenges and provide fresh insights into their mental health or substance abuse issues. Their stories will allow you to place your personal issues in a new perspective, which can be a great way to tackle your problems in a different approach. This exposure to a range of perspectives is a key advantage of group therapy that is not easily replicated in individual therapy.

Benefits of Individual Therapy


If you don’t want others to know that you’re going to therapy, then you should consider individual sessions. This extra level of privacy ensures that you can delve safely into more personal matters that you may not feel comfortable sharing with a group.

Confidentiality can be particularly important when dealing with sensitive issues such as drug abuse, psychiatric disorders, or other mental health concerns. Individual therapy fosters a safe space where clients can freely explore their thoughts and emotions without the presence of other group members, making it a preferred choice for those who value privacy and discretion.

Subject Matter

During group therapy, each session tends to focus on a particular subject area or topic. However, with individual therapy, patients are able to explore a more diverse range of subjects during each meeting and can better tailor their experience to their unique needs. For example, individual therapy sessions can be tailored to address a wide array of issues, from family dynamics and childhood traumas to specific anxieties or phobias.

This allows them and their therapist to hone in on more specific subjects that are relevant to the problems they are currently facing. In addition, it permits patients to explore more personalized goals and concerns that may not align with the themes commonly addressed in group settings.

Whether You Prefer Individual or Group Sessions, We’re Here to Help

At the end of the day, both individual therapy and group therapy are both effective ways to address and recover from substance use disorders, depression, and other mental health concerns.

Our professional staff offer a variety of services to ensure that everyone has access to the help they need. For further information and to schedule an appointment, contact us today.

Citation: Ragsdale, K. A., Watkins, L. E., Sherrill, A. M., Zwiebach, L., & Rothbaum, B. O. (2020). Advances in PTSD treatment delivery: Evidence base and future directions for intensive outpatient programs. Current Treatment Options in Psychiatry, 7, 291-300.