Compare Individual and Group Therapy
As time goes on more and more people are getting into therapy to make themselves a better person. If this is something you’ve considered yourself you may be wondering which is better for you; group therapy or individual therapy?
What are the benefits of Group Therapy?
Group therapy can be very rewarding, as it’s the first opportunity many patients have to be in a relationship.
In group therapy, you can share your experiences and see that you are not alone in whatever you may be struggling with in life. This is also a time where you can practice honesty and humility.
Similar to individual counseling, which we will cover shortly, it may take time to open up about your struggles, but once you do, the freedom is invaluable and can help you in a large number of ways.
What are the benefits of Individual Therapy?
With individual therapy, the focus is on yourself.
You don’t have to share time with anyone else, and the environment is completely safe and confidential. There are a number of things you can accomplish during your sessions such as identifying problems, acknowledging feelings, working through challenges and establishing goals.
Some people may need a lot of time to break through their personal barrier while others may open up right away. The quicker you let down your guard and work through your feelings, the faster you will succeed in individual therapy.
With this setting being highly personal, you may find it more rewarding in the beginning of your journey. You may not feel ready to open up in front of a group of strangers, especially if you are still learning about yourself.
Through your one-on-one interactions with a therapist, you will become more confident about your strengths and moving toward the person you want to become.
Should you do group & individual therapy at the same time?
The answer to the question, “Which is better: group or individual therapy?” is actually relatively straightforward: “Neither.” Both have advantages and disadvantages that are suited for specific types of individuals and for specific problems.
In general, the research finds that both group therapy and individual therapy are relatively equivalent in their effectiveness in addressing a large number of issues. Thus, there is no real answer to the question of which is better.
This is an individual choice that can be made by you after trying both types of therapy and then decide which is best.
The best-case scenario is to try and get involved in both types of therapy at the same time.
Nonetheless, both formats of therapy have advantages and disadvantages. Deciding on which one to engage in is a personal choice that depends on your personal issues, goals, and the types of therapists/groups that are available.
How to get the most of Group Therapy
If you chose to engage in group therapy there are several tips to help you to get the most out of your sessions.
Here is a list of great tips for getting the most out of group therapy:
- Group therapy is a non-judgmental space where judgment, criticism and blame have no place. If you have advice for one of the group members, then offer it in a friendly way. Members should treat each other with respect and encourage and support each other.
- One tip for getting the most out of group therapy is to be yourself. Don’t join the group with a preconceived idea of what you think you are supposed to be. Just be yourself, as you are at this time in your life. Be yourself and ask questions about the things that are concerning you.
- Ground rules for group therapy also involves giving and receiving feedback. The purpose of feedback is to help identify patterns of unrecognized attitudes, inconsistencies and personal presentation.
- Take time to speak about yourself, even if you think that other members have more pressing issues than you. You are all there to be helped and no one is more important than another.
- Tips for getting the most out of group therapy also include thinking first before you give advice. Most of us have knee-jerk reactions that may not be based on fact. Take the time to assess your response before offering advice, solutions and suggestions.
- One of the most important tips for getting the most out of group therapy is for all members to offer empathy, validation and acceptance to each other. Be a good listener and show other members that you care about them.
How to get the most out of Individual Therapy
If you decide individual therapy is the route you would rather take here are a few little tips to help you to get the most out of one on one therapy.
- Find the right therapist for you.
Just like your problems, a psychologist’s methods are unique too. They all follow the basic structure and are highly educated, but perhaps their personality doesn’t mesh with you or their counseling style puts you on edge.
It might take a little time, but finding the one for you will make all the difference.
- Be prepared to talk.
While many of the issues that you need to talk about are sensitive, you need to open up. Psychologists have been specially trained to help you move through your issues and if you don’t express yourself, they can’t help you. Just like if you don’t tell your general practitioner your symptoms, they won’t be able to diagnose you.
- Take their advice seriously.
Once you’ve spoken to your counselor and they have told you what you should do next it is highly advisable to pay attention to what they say.
If at any time you think that something won’t help, tell them. Maybe they misunderstood you or maybe you just don’t feel ready. You will have to step out of your comfort zone, but they don’t want to push you so far that it’s no longer beneficial. If you start feeling uncomfortable, communicate clearly with them and they will find an alternative for you.
Ultimately, like many things involving therapy, the choice of if and how you are treated is down to yourself.
A combination of group therapy and individual therapy is the best course of action to move past your issues but always make sure you follow the treatment plan your doctor and therapist gives you.