Most treatment centers offer a variety of different kinds of therapy to ensure that patients get a well-rounded and complete opportunity to recover in all aspects of their health. Relying on one type of therapy may not be as effective as people have unique needs and benefit the most from having several approaches to treatment. Combining individual and group therapy is often a key element in most treatment programs.
Individual therapy and group therapy both offer patients a chance to talk about what they are going through but in different environments. The two therapies are similar in some respects and very distinct in others. Having the contrast of both can make it possible for patients to get the most out of their treatment.
What Happens in Individual Therapy
One of the most obvious differences between individual and group therapy is that individual therapy is one on one. The patient will sit in a room, typically with only one therapist, and speak confidentially about personal issues. Anyone professionally trained in mental health can provide individual therapy such as a counselor, psychiatrist or psychologist.
The advantage of individual therapy is mainly that it is all confidential and the patient is able to receive more focused attention. The therapist will get to know the patient, have a deeper understanding of all of their specific problems and be able to guide them in an individualized approach.
During individual therapy each patient can discuss aspects of their personal history, family life, past traumas or anything that they feel may be contributing to their current mental health or behavioral problems. Therapists will also ask questions in order to determine what may be at the root of their disorder. In this environment, patients can build trust with the therapist and develop a relationship that helps them become more self-aware.
Most patients find that individual therapy can help alleviate many of their symptoms as they learn certain skills from their therapist. With one on one sessions, patients can develop strategies to cope with their symptoms that are tailored to work just for them. The personal advice that they receive from their therapist can be crucial for their progress in recovery.
Benefits of Group Therapy
Although individual therapy has many advantages, most treatment centers also include group therapy because it provides things that one on one care cannot always offer. During group therapy, several different patients all speak to one therapist who addresses the group as a whole and individually in front of the others. This format can lend itself to a feeling of community that is not available in personal sessions with a therapist.
In group therapy, patients take turn speaking and addressing the therapist and the rest of the group to talk about their struggles, their progress and share their thoughts at that moment. Being a part of a group can help patients feel that they are not alone in their problems as most of the others in treatment are experiencing many of the same feelings and issues. People can also experience a greater feeling of connection in a group instead of the sometimes one-sided relationship of therapist to patient.
Being a part of a group can be more motivating for some people that feel uncomfortable with being the center of attention. The group dynamic may make them feel that they want to make progress to keep up with their peers and work toward goals that others are working on as well. The support that they receive from others in the group may also act as a great motivating factor.
Group therapy also allows patients to develop better communication, interpersonal and social skills that are not present in individual therapy. They can learn how to listen to others, be more compassionate, connect on a deeper level and feel more comfortable with their vulnerability. They can also hear many different points of view and and gain a new perspective from what other people are dealing with and how they cope with their problems.
Incorporating Both Therapies
Although individual and group therapy both have certain advantages over the other, it is really the combination of the two that creates the most effective recovery program. There are certain things that patients need from both individual and group therapy so that utilizing both will help them achieve greater wellness. Instead of relying solely on one or the other, patients can experience the benefits of both treatment plans in order develop more useful skills.
For those looking into treatment centers, make sure that the program has highly experienced and trained therapists that can provide both individual and group therapy for the best results. If you are interested in recovery then understanding the treatment center’s balance between group and individual therapy can give you an idea of what to expect when you first enter the program.