Group Therapy v. Individual Therapy and Why You Need Both

Home | Group Therapy v. Individual Therapy and Why You Need Both

Before entering an addiction recovery program, you may learn that the program consists of both individual and group therapy. If you haven’t participated in it before, you may wonder what to expect. What will you “have” to talk about in individual therapy? What if you don’t like or trust the other people in your group? In most cases, it in an addiction recovery program is not optional. But we hope that the information below will help you realize how meaningful it can be–and why you may very likely start to look forward to it.

What is Individual Therapy in Recovery?

Individual therapy is a two-way street, a process that involves two people: the therapist and the person. This approach has been saddled with many names over the years, some of which include:

  • Psychotherapy, a term coined in the early 1800s
  • Psychosocial therapy, a second term coined in the 1890s and widely used in the early 1900s
  • Counseling, a term that first appeared in the 1920s
  • Talk therapy, a term widely used beginning in the 1970s
  • Therapy, as it’s most often called today

Unlike what you may imagine, it does not necessarily involve pouring your heart out to a stranger while they take notes. The relationship between the therapist and the client is crucial, and most sessions are structured as a conversation with an intended outcome. The therapist and the client have a shared goal, which is often to improve the client’s life in some way via discussion and self-exploration.

What Happens in Individual Therapy?

Normally, the first meeting between the therapist and the person in therapy involves getting to know one another. The therapist may ask questions and gather information to better grasp what issues should be addressed. A full understanding of the client’s needs may not solidify until after working together in several sessions. Once the therapist identifies specific points and determines a helpful path of action, the person receiving it can then expect any of the following:

  • Questions or conversations that may produce feelings of anger, sadness, or negativity
  • Tasks assigned by the therapist to do between sessions, like some kind of journaling
  • Complete confidentiality except in cases in which the client admits to having harmed or planning harm to others or themselves

What is Individual Therapy Good For?

This depends completely upon the person receiving it, but common reasons people seek it include but are not restricted to the following:

  • Anxiety and stress
  • Eating disorders
  • Anger management
  • Relationship, familial or marriage problems
  • Substance abuse
  • Mental, physical, or sexual abuse
  • Sleep issues
  • Sexuality, gender, and body issues

Who Should Go to Individual Therapy?

Anyone can and should go to individual therapy, as it is one approach to increasing a person’s quality of life. But it is especially crucial for those working through addiction recovery. One-on-one options can help eradicate obstacles that seem to bar you from optimal health and wellness. It can unlock and sharpen feelings of positivity, a strong sense of self-esteem, skills for managing stress and cravings, as well as habits for healthy decision-making and follow through. Individual therapy helps people to see themselves honestly and to identify the root causes of their addiction.

What is Group Therapy?

In a recovery program, group therapy is a complement to individual therapy and involves one therapist and up to fifteen people during a session. The people in the group normally share a crucial issue, such as addiction, mental illness, or trauma. Group therapy aims to reach goals with the added support and insight of the group as a whole. Simply put: it’s a communal version of therapy.

The main difference between individual and group therapy is that the other people receiving it alongside you offer a shared perspective. They create the chance to engage in conversation that may prove richer, more illuminating, and more comfortable than that shared between you and a therapist who may have never experienced addiction.

Most importantly, the group offers a sense of unity. It helps each individual realize they aren’t alone in their experience. This can prove incredibly comforting, especially to those struggling with substance abuse. Other benefits of group therapy include:

  • Diversity within a social network
  • A sounding board effect when discussing and analyzing your issues
  • An opportunity to attempt different strategies in pairs or small groups

Find the Right Therapy for You at St. Gregory Recovery Center in Iowa

Here at St. Gregory, you don’t have to choose between individual and group therapy. We offer both, as well as a Family Program in which family members may have individual sessions with a therapist or engage in a group therapy format with family. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you or your loved one overcome substance use disorder.

Researching Iowa addiction specialists? To learn more about programs offered at St. Gregory Recovery Center, call and speak with someone today, at (888) 778-5833.

Our graduates tell their stories…

When first arriving at St. Gregory I had mixed feelings about the health and wellness workouts. I came in at 136 lbs and didn’t think it was possible to reach...
- Chris
The good life is not merely a life free from addictions, physical and/or psychological—addictions that usually are the outward manifestations of deeper problems—but a life lived in harmonious balance, free...
- Matt
I came to St. Gregory’s at my all-time worst—physically, emotionally, and mentally. Having gone through a bad rehab experience once before, I had been very reluctant in succumbing to that...
- CJ
No matter where I start my thought process when reflecting upon my time before, during and after St. Gregory’s, I always seem to end up in the same place in...
- Kaele


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