Individual Therapy vs Group Therapy

A comprehensive recovery program will give patients access to various treatments and forms of psychotherapy. Group therapy and individual therapy are integral components of any high-quality treatment center. This article will explore the differences between individual and group treatment, the advantages, and how both are critical to long-term recovery. 

How Individual and Group Treatments Complement One Another

Addiction is a complex problem because it's not a personality or morality problem but a problem with one's thoughts and feelings. Group and individual therapy are based on cognitive and behavioral components, which provide insight into the issues that lead a person to do those things which ultimately harm them and make their life more difficult. To overcome alcohol and substance use disorder, the person in recovery must deal with the underlying motives which come to the surface through intensive treatment.

Some people are resistant to psychotherapy at first. Still, when they open up to the therapeutic environment, whether for one-on-one therapy or in a group setting, most people can navigate their emotions better and find more grounding. The insights gained during an individual talk therapy session, combined with the support and belonging experienced in a group session, can help the patient achieve a successful outcome. 

What is Individual Therapy?

One of the most critical aspects of drug rehabilitation is exploring the psychological underpinnings of addiction. Individual therapy is a type of psychotherapy that involves meeting with a therapist one-on-one to discuss personal issues, problems, and goals. The therapist will help the individual to identify patterns of thinking or to behave that may be contributing to their difficulties and will work with them to develop new, healthier ways of thinking and behaving. Individual therapy can effectively treat dual diagnosis and various mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, trauma, and relationship difficulties.

A qualified mental health professional will work closely with the patient in private sessions during an individual therapy session. The aim of these sessions is for the health professional to gain insight and for the patient to acquire self-knowledge and a stronger sense of identity. The health professional will establish the model of the treatment. Still, many therapists and patients mutually find benefit in cognitive behavioral therapy, as it addresses substance abuse and response to triggers. Another modality that therapists often use is motivational interviewing, which keeps the patient encouraged and focused on abilities and strengths. Significant improvements have also been seen with dialectical behavior therapy and the way it helps a patient with acceptance.

In the first session as the therapeutic alliance is forged, which is the relationship between the patient and therapist. The clinical psychologist or social worker will build the therapy's nature and boundaries that dictate when and where the sessions will be held, how progress will be measured, and what responsibilities and tasks will be given to the patient. For example, the patient may be asked to keep a diary and to present this at each session. 

Therapy sessions will touch on several different areas, including:

·       Interpersonal relationships

·       Barriers to recovery

·       Recovery progress

·       Withdrawal symptoms and cravings

·       Goals for the future, both short and long

·       Integrating new coping strategies

The critical factors in individual psychotherapy are confidentiality and supporting the needs of the individual. These sessions encourage and allow patients to talk openly about their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors with their therapist. One-on-one therapy is an intimate setting for patients to work through a specific mental health condition, like a panic disorder, depressive symptoms, and post-traumatic stress disorder. 

The Advantages of Individual Therapy

Specifically tailored to the needs of the patient, individual therapy offers many advantages to those who participate. Some of these advantages include the following:

  • Full attention is given to the patient by the mental health provider, and treatment is delivered one-on-one. The result is an intense and very focused treatment experience. 
  • The patient will be given direct feedback from the therapist on progress and advice on dealing with any issues they may be experiencing. 
  • The patient can be assured of total confidentiality during each treatment session. 
  • The pace and nature of treatment can be tailored to suit the patient's individual needs. 

What Is Group Therapy?

Where individual therapy is focused on a single individual, group therapy is based on a group of 6-8 people, but group size can vary depending on the treatment or counseling center. The group process results in patients learning new coping mechanisms, building communication and interpersonal skills, gaining insight, and finding empowerment from their peers. When patients participate in group therapy, they connect and relate to stories from others in the group who may be experiencing similar issues, like emotional problems and issues with interpersonal relationships.

In a group therapy session, the group is led by a trained mental health professional. These sessions typically last one to two hours, depending on how the rehab program is structured. Patients usually observe set speaking time limits so that each patient has a chance to speak, and the therapist gains a comprehensive outlook of each group member. The sessions for this type of therapy are a great way for patients to experience a sense of belonging and camaraderie. Group counseling may intimidate someone with social anxiety, but the group experience can keep some patients from emotionally isolating by hearing similar experiences. 

Common topics that might be discussed include:

·       Psychoeducation, otherwise known as education on addiction

·       Learning how to cope with triggering situations

·       Managing uncomfortable emotions, such as guilt, anger, shame, and resentment

·       Managing withdrawal symptoms and cravings

·       Living with emotional trauma and grief

·       Dealing effectively with a relapse if it occurs

·       Forming boundaries and maintaining healthy relationships

·       Managing medication where applicable

·       Codependency

·       Coping with mental illness, such as anxiety, depression, phobias, bipolar disorder, and other conditions

The Advantages of Group Therapy 

Group therapy offers several distinct advantages attractive to the patient and the therapist. These benefits, while important, do not necessarily mean that group psychotherapy is superior to individual work. A tailored approach will determine which course of therapy is appropriate for the individual. 

The advantages of group therapy include:

  • Individuals realize that they are not alone in their problems and that others share similar struggles and issues. This can help form a sense of belonging and identity and relieve stress and anxiety. 
  • Patients undergoing group therapy receive support from their peers and can support others. This can have very positive effects and helps to create a therapeutic bond through shared goals and experiences. 
  • As part of a supportive group, patients often have fewer reservations about sharing their stories or discussing any setbacks or problems they have experienced. The sense of identity that group therapy fosters can encourage patients to open up. 
  • Being part of group therapy can also develop social skills and communication abilities and help individuals learn to accept praise and criticism from their peers. 
  • Group therapy can also be more affordable than individual therapy sessions. 
  • It is not unusual for patients to form lasting bonds with each other that develop outside of therapy and continue throughout their lives. 

Which is the Best Approach for Me?

Individual and group therapy are not mutually exclusive treatments and should be part of any rehabilitation program. At Wish Recovery, we take a lot of factors into account when assigning treatments to individuals. Where individual therapy can set the stage for an in-depth exploration of the patient’s needs, the effectiveness of group therapy rests in its ability to provide opportunities for personal growth, mutual support, social connections, and psychoeducation. 

We aim to promote overall wellness through a powerful and effective blend of group therapy, individual therapy, and supplemental treatments. To learn more about our advanced approach to recovery, speak to a member of our team today.

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