Individual vs Group Therapy: Which One Is Right for You?

Addiction treatments involve a variety of options that can include individual and/or group therapy. Both are important components of intensive outpatient programs. These techniques offer several pros and cons, so it’s helpful to know how they will benefit you.

Benefits of Group Therapy

Group therapy sessions include several people with similar psychological issues. A trained therapist works with the group encouraging helpful and respectful discussions about problems. These sessions help people learn about themselves and find they are not alone in the struggles. They use the sessions to build interpersonal relationships and gain self-respect.

Members in the therapy sessions learn that they are not alone, so they often find group therapy sessions to be supportive stress relievers. They build a support group of people with similar issues, and they learn to communicate and build social skills.

Types of Group Therapy Sessions

Group therapy sessions help patients work through a variety of problems.

  • Skills development group therapy and cognitive behavioral group therapy helps people learn coping skills and change their behaviors.
  • Interpersonal process group therapy helps addicts improve their road to recovery.
  • In a support group, members share their successes and failures while learning from other members with similar problems.

Disadvantages of Group Therapy

Group therapy is not beneficial for members who need focused attention from a therapist. People who want confidentiality will not enjoy group therapy. Some people do not participate as they choose to sit and listen rather than share. Some groups develop subgroups, which can be a problem for people who aren’t included.

Benefits of Individual Therapy

Individual therapy sessions are private and confidential. Each visit is tailored especially to the individual patient, and the patient does not have to share time with other people with more demanding needs.

Patients get an intensive and focused therapy session. Each session includes feedback and treatment at a pace that helps the patient. Individual appointments fit the patient’s schedule.

Types of Individual Therapy Sessions

Therapists offer several types of therapy for addicts and people with other psychological disorders.

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy helps patients learn how to change their harmful behaviors.
  • Contingency management therapy involves rewards for patients who stay away from drugs and other harmful substances.
  • Motivational interviewing helps patients understand that intrinsic motivation helps them change their behaviors.
  • Holistic therapy includes a variety of treatments like mindfulness, music therapy, and yoga.

Disadvantages of Individual Therapy

Because individual therapy sessions are one-on-one, they cost more than group sessions. Some patients do not like to meet one-on-one with a therapist, as they feel too exposed. In a group session, some members find it easier to hide. Individual therapy sessions have one viewpoint from the therapist, who may not understand what the patient needs.


Both therapy types can be beneficial, depending on the patient’s needs at various stages of addiction treatment. Patients should look for therapy that fits their personality, finances, and time. Individual and group therapy are helpful in their unique ways, and one is not better than the other.


I'm a mother of 2 who likes to get involved in too much! Besides writing here I started a non-profit, I'm on the PTO board, very active in my community and volunteer in the school. I enjoy music, reading, cooking, traveling and spending time with my family. We just adopted our 3rd cat and love them all!

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