Individual Therapy vs Group Therapy – Which One Will You Choose?

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Deciding to receive professional help to face a difficult situation can be a big step towards self-growth. Seeking guidance from a counselor equips you to cope with anxieties, address damaged relationships, and much more.

Everyone enters therapy for their reasons and maintains individual treatment goals. Counseling is typically one-on-one encounters between a counselor and a client, which is a bit of a misconception. Group counseling structures are frequent as individual counseling sessions. Group therapy represents an entirely different setting than individual therapy, requiring separate skills and knowledge.

The best type of therapy varies from person to person. In comprehensive recovery programs, group and individual counseling are integral components of treatment. These two approaches are not different from each other. Instead, the insight gained in individual therapy sessions complements those of group therapy.

Effective treatment plans utilize both approaches along the entire course of recovery. However, there are significant differences in style, content, and delivery of individual therapy vs group therapy.

This article will provide you with a better understanding of how each of the modalities works can help make the difference between individual therapy and group therapy feel more navigable.

What is Individual Therapy?

Individual therapy is where one individual is involved in the therapeutic process with at least one therapist, a therapist can be anyone, including a psychologist, social worker, counselor, psychiatrist, marriage and family counselor, etc.

What is Group Therapy?

Group therapy is defined as having more than one client treated at the same time by at least one therapist. Some groups have more than one therapist. Group size depends on the type of group therapy being employed. Researchers who study the effectiveness of group therapy suggest that the ideal maximum number of clients in a group should be around 6-12. However, some groups have an even larger number of clients.

Pros and Cons of Individual Therapy Vs Group Therapy:

Pros and Cons of Individual Therapy


  • Communicate feelings and emotions
  • Consistent attention to your specific, unique problem and needs.
  • Build  a strong, trusting, and healthy relationship with your therapist
  • Comprehensive and in-depth than group therapy
  • Increase self-awareness, and self-sufficiency
  • Maintain accountability for one’s behavior
  • Sessions that are tailored to where you are in the therapeutic process


  • Stressful to sit in a one-on-one conversation with a therapist
  • Individual therapy is more expensive.
  • Clients need to be motivated and are obviously in the spotlight.

Pros and Cons of Group Therapy:


  • Deep-rooted understanding that you are not alone.
  • The opportunity to share your story with others gives itself healing
  • Skills practice in a safe space.
  • Support from people who understand what you’re going through.
  • Variety of suggestions, perspectives, and ways of interpreting experiences.


  • It is very complicated
  • The client is not the focus of attention.
  • The level of confidentiality in groups is far less secure

Principles of Individual Vs Group therapy:

Principles of Individual:

Some of the principles of individual therapy include but are not limited to:

  1. Psychodynamic psychotherapy: Individuals can openly discuss their past and experiences through what is considered talk therapy based on unconscious affect behavior.
  2. Play Therapy: Individuals will act out a scene from their life using psychoanalytic therapy where the interaction with props is used instead of talk therapy.
  3. Behavior Therapy: Individual learns to overcome certain fears through several relaxation techniques through the principles of learning to adjust negative behaviors.
  4. Cognitive Therapy: Individual learns not to fear lack of success based on a single failure through awareness of a cognitive process that helps the individual to eradicate negative thought processes.
  5. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Individual learns to identify harmful behaviors to overcome other negative effects by working to change cognitive distortions and harmful behaviors.
  6. Humanistic Therapy: Individuals learn to speak openly about the thoughts that keep them away from achieving goals by increasing self-awareness through the focus on their conscious thoughts.

Principles of Group therapy:

  1. Giving Hope: Group therapy consists of people at different stages of a treatment program.  People get an advantage by witnessing others who are recovering and instills hope in people in the beginning stages of treatment.
  2. Universality: Begin part of group therapy. People who share similar types of experiences assist them in seeing that what they are going through is universal and they are not alone.
  3. Imparting Information:  Participants in group therapy help each other by sharing information in a group setting.
  4. Altruism: Participants in group therapy share their courage and strengths, which not only help them through talk therapy but will assist others in the group. This helps to boost confidence and self-esteem.
  5. Development of Socialization Techniques: this therapy provides an encouraging environment for the group members to actively practice newly learned behaviors. This group is designed to be supportive, which allows the members within the group to experiment with the new behaviors without judgment of error.
  6. Imitative Behavior: people will learn to imitate the positive behavior of others as well as model the behaviors of the therapist.

Effectiveness of Individual Vs Group therapy:

In general, the research suggests that individual therapy and group therapy are effective for treating nearly every type of problem. Some individuals are more suited to working in a group based on the strengths of group therapy. While others may be more suited to working in individual situations.

Many therapeutic paradigms, such as Dialectical Behavior therapy, use both group and individual therapy, and individuals get benefited from both.

Getting involved in individual or group therapy will depend on many different factors, including affordability, the comfort level of individuals discussing problems in front of others, but both represent different approaches to reaching the same goal.

Wrapping Up:

Research has found that both group and individual therapy are relatively equivalent in their effectiveness in addressing a large number of issues. Both therapies have pros and cons. It depends on personal choice and personal issues, goals, and types of available therapists.

John S.

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