According to the CDC, nearly 20% of adults sought treatment for mental health in 2019. Around half of those people used a form of counseling or therapy to help manage their condition(s). For many, it is an essential element of staying strong mentally or keeping sober.
Have you thought about joining therapy but are unsure if group therapy or individual therapy is better for you? This article will outline the differences between the two types and help you pick the right option.
Evaluate Your Situation and Needs
Mental health treatment is not supposed to be the same for every patient. This is why you may find a wide assortment of different therapeutic processes or treatments for different conditions. If you’ve decided you would benefit from therapy, now you have to weigh your options: group therapy or individual therapy.
Group therapy as a practice started around the mid-1930s to help veterans coming home from WWI feeling the effects of “shell-shock,” now known as PTSD. It has since evolved to cater to broader populations and specialize in smaller groups such as those in drug or alcohol rehab. Here is a look at what group therapy has to offer.
Group Therapy Benefits
Living with a mental health condition or having a loved one with a mental illness may feel isolating at times. You can hear and be heard by people who have similar struggles and can relate to your experience, no matter how singular you feel.
Groups provide you with diverse perspectives and act as a sounding board, so you better understand how you may come off to other people or how other view treatment of you. This helps people with self-esteem issues or who don’t understand certain interactions. You also build social and communication skills by listening and learning from others.
Lastly, associating yourself with a group may motivate you to overcome fears or make adjustments in your life, as you have others supporting and holding you accountable. Group counseling comes with disadvantages, such as disagreements, fear of rejection, social anxiety, or difficulty showing vulnerability. If these are struggles you are concerned about, consider how individual therapy may help.
Many people may think individual therapy’s origins are with Dr. Sigmund Freud and picture a patient laid out on a doctor’s couch. However, the true origins of the practice trace its roots as far back as the 9th century. Keep reading for a rundown of what individual therapy is like today.
Individual Therapy Benefits
Individual therapy is a treatment to help cope with life stressors or promote general well-being. In contrast to group therapy, there is no specific meeting time every week or topic of discussion. It is more open-ended and under the client’s control.
Therapists must keep what you tell them private (with some exceptions). So you may feel more comfortable opening up. You can dig deeper into the issues that are perplexing you during a one-on-one session.
The setting is also less stressful, especially for those who are anxious talking in front of others. It does away with many social fears. Potential disadvantages are cost, progress plateau, lack of multiple perspectives, and difficulty connecting.
Individual therapy and group counseling are vital steps to maintain good mental health in life after treatment. The method you chose depends on what interactions you are motivated by and find meaningful.
Which Type of Therapy Is Right for You?
Understanding which type of therapy works best for you, whether it is a group or individual therapy, is ultimately a personal decision between you and your mental health or recovery treatment team. Each type has its advantages.
Group therapy fosters a sense of community and bonding, which is great for those who feel lonely or lost. Individual therapy is designed for people with goals in mind and benefit from one-on-one help achieving those goals.
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