Individual Therapy vs Group Therapy

Individual Therapy vs Group Therapy

A comprehensive recovery program will give patients access to a wide range of therapies and treatments. Group therapy and individual therapy are both integral components of any quality drug rehabilitation program. In this article, we’ll explore the differences between individual treatment and group treatment, the advantages and how both are critical to long term recovery. 

How Individual and Group Treatments Complement One Another

These two approaches to treatment should not be at odds with one another. Instead, both types of therapy should be tailored to the needs of the patient. The insights gained during an individual session of therapy combined with the support and belonging experienced with a group session can help the patient towards a very successful outcome. 

What is Individual Therapy?

One of the most important aspects of drug rehabilitation is exploring the psychological underpinnings of the addiction. Individual therapy is a highly effective means of achieving this. 

During an individual therapy session, a qualified mental health professional will work closely with their patient in private sessions. The aim of these sessions are 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 build a frame of therapy that dictates when and where the sessions will be held, how progress will be measured and what responsibilities 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 a number of different areas, including:

  • Interpersonal relationships

  • Barriers to recovery

  • Recovery progress

  • Withdrawal symptoms and cravings

  • Goals for the future, both short and long term

  • Integrating new coping strategies

A critical factor in individual therapy is confidentiality. These sessions encourage and allow patients to talk openly about their thoughts, emotions and behaviours with their therapist. 

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 therapist and treatment is delivered on a one-on-one basis. 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 how to deal 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 individual needs of the patient. 

What Is Group Therapy?

Where individual therapy is conducted on a one-on-one basis, group therapy is conducted in a group of 6-8 people. These sessions are designed to teach patients new coping mechanisms, to build communication and social skills and to gain strength and insight from their peers. It can be very comforting for patients to learn that others in the group are experiencing similar symptoms, 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 recovery program is structured. Patients usually observe set speaking time limits so that everybody has a chance to speak and that the therapist can gain good insight into each member of the group. These sessions are usually held daily in a residential setting and can be a great way for patients to experience a sense of belonging and camaraderie. 

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, phobios, bipolar disorder and other conditions

The Advantages of Group Therapy 

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

The advantages of group therapy include:

  • Individuals start to realise that they are not alone in their problems and that others share very similar struggles and issues. This can help to form a sense of belonging, identity and the relief of stress and anxiety. 
  • Patients undergoing group therapy not only receive support from their peers but also are able to 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 will often have fewer reservations about sharing their story or discussing any setbacks or problems they have experienced. The sense of identity that group therapy fosters can really encourage patients to open up. 
  • Being part of group therapy can also develop social skills, communication abilities and help individuals to learn to accept both 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, group therapy offers strong opportunities for growth, mutual support, forming connections and education. 

Our aim is 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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