When making the brave decision to finally seek out a therapist, it can be difficult to choose whether individual counseling or group counseling would be right for you. In this article, we will lay out the major differences between the two to help you decide.
First, we’ll define the two therapies and their key characteristics.
Individual Counseling is a process through which clients work one-on-one with a trained therapist in a confidential setting. During these private sessions, therapists will help clients through mental health concerns of any magnitude, with the goal of moving towards a more psychologically healthy life.
Group Therapy is a process through which a group of two or more people work with a therapist to address a collective problem. Family behavior therapy and marital counseling are part of this category, as are addiction support groups or bereavement groups. Through common experiences, the group facilitates a healthy, understanding environment in which individuals can bond and support one another.
The Benefits of Any Kind of Counseling
Whether you embark on an individual or group counseling path, either results in benefits that can assist you enormously in various areas of your life.
- Manage anxiety or panic attacks
- Learn coping skills for negative emotions
- Practice better decision-making
- Improve self-esteem and confidence
- Cope with addiction or eating disorders
- Understand how your emotions affect your thoughts and behaviors
- Establish boundaries with people in your life
- Work through past trauma
- Address mental health concerns strategically
- Improve communication and interpersonal skills
- Health benefits: Improved mental health and better coping skills can lead to lowered blood pressure, less stress, better sleep, and an improved outlook on life.
There is no problem too small for therapy, and you don’t need to be experiencing mental illness to seek help. Whether you prefer group or individual counseling is a personal choice, and though each have their own benefits, you may want to consider their differences before deciding to attend.
WHY YOU MIGHT PREFER INDIVIDUAL COUNSELING
The choice to seek individual or group counseling is a personal one, and there are many reasons why people lean towards one or the other. A few distinguishing factors that should be considered are:
- Individual therapy is more expensive than group therapy
- Individual therapy allows for 100% focus on the patient
Some people appreciate the undivided attention of a therapist. If a patient fears exposing their weaknesses in front of others, worries about getting lost in the group, or has privacy concerns, they may prefer to choose individual therapy. Working through deep-set patterns of thoughts and behaviors is an extremely vulnerable process that takes time and effort. It’s a personal experience that involves disclosing things about yourself and your feelings that you wouldn’t be inclined to tell your friends or family, let alone a total stranger. For these reasons, some may prefer the privacy that one-on-one therapy offers.
Understand Yourself Better
Individual therapy is a full hour every week (or however often you meet with your therapist) to focus solely on yourself. A trained therapist can help you become aware of unhelpful thought patterns that may be controlling your life in ways you don’t even realize. Your thoughts and emotions may influence your beliefs, attitudes, relationships, behaviors, and opinions of yourself: and it can be a self-destructive cycle if you let it continue. Part of therapy is challenging and breaking these thought patterns by actively learning about common thought distortions and how they may be influencing your thoughts. By working with a therapist, you will start to uncover these patterns and understand your thoughts, behaviors, and emotions better.
Practice Setting Boundaries
Those with social anxiety or social phobias may prefer the safety of private therapy to practice boundary-setting. Especially if the phobia or anxiety has been long-standing, it is likely that an individual has had trouble advocating for themselves in the past. Simply learning how to state one’s needs in a non confrontational way, learning how to say no, and establishing expectations can go a long way towards making someone feel more comfortable in a social setting. In cases like these, individual therapy may work as a precursor to group therapy.
WHY YOU MIGHT PREFER GROUP COUNSELING
Group counseling differs from individual counseling in that it involves a group of people often going through a similar struggle. There are several factors that you should consider when choosing between groups or individuals.
- Group therapy is less expensive
- Group therapy often results in strong friendships and relationships
- Group therapy offers social support for a common problem
Build Lifelong Relationships
Because of its social aspect, group therapy is often even more effective than individual therapy for certain people. It is particularly beneficial to teenagers or others who have an easier time opening up to peers than adults, doctors, or figures of authority. Going through the process of vulnerability and healing as a group can cement a special bond between participants in group therapy, and sometimes lifelong friendships form.
Learn Social Skills
Social skills, such as conversations and social norms, can be difficult for some people. Those who suffer from social anxiety, depression, autism, and a range of other mental disorders may struggle with the social demands of the world. Group therapy is particularly helpful for this range of individuals: while social settings may be uncomfortable at times, they can help individuals develop crucial listening and understanding skills. Group settings also allow for observation of social norms, allowing those with phobias or antisocial disorders to slowly integrate into the group.
Taking initiative to seek out therapy is one of the greatest things you can do for yourself. Asking for help is not easy, but it is worth it. A healthier, happier life is possible – for many people, therapy is the catalyst for change. Whether you ultimately choose individual or group therapy, know that the choice is an investment in a happier future.
Contact A Professional Today
If you are interested in individual counseling or group therapy, reach out to Brett Beaver now by calling 925-324-4514 or fill out this contact form. A consultation can help you figure out which type of therapy is best for you.