Group Therapy vs Individual Therapy: Which Is Best?

How to find a psychologist that's right for you

Making the Right Choice: Understanding Group Therapy vs Individual Therapy

Deciding between group therapy vs individual therapy can feel overwhelming, especially when you’re taking those initial steps toward better mental health. Think of therapy as a personal journey; whether you’re in a room with others who understand your struggles or sitting face-to-face with someone who’s there to listen to you alone, the goal is the same—to heal and grow.

This article is all about giving you a clearer picture of both options, so you can choose the path that feels right for you and your unique situation. Let’s take a closer look and find out what each therapy style brings to the table.

group therapy vs individual therapy - which is best for you

Understanding Group Therapy Sessions

Group sessions are a collaborative form of psychotherapy involving a therapist who guides a group of clients. They leverage collective experiences and interactions to foster healing and growth.

How Does a Group Therapy Session Work?

Group counselling brings individuals together to create a supportive environment, leveraging the strength of shared experiences to show that one isn’t alone in their struggles. Here’s how these interactions unfold:

  1. Initial Assessment
    Before joining, individuals may meet with a therapist for an initial assessment to discuss suitability and set therapeutic goals.
  2. Agreement on Confidentiality
    Members commit to confidentiality, ensuring a safe space for all participants to share openly.
  3. Regular Scheduling
    Sessions are held consistently, providing a reliable framework for ongoing support and discussion.
  4. Structured Sharing
    Group members take turns to speak, with activities like role-playing or discussion prompts guiding the conversation.
  5. Interactive Exercises
    Therapist-led activities encourage self-reflection and insight, fostering interpersonal skills within the group.
  6. Creating a Sense of Belonging
    The key goal is to cultivate a feeling of mutual understanding and empathy, reinforcing the notion that members are not isolated in their challenges.
  7. Encouraging Empathy and Perspective
    By sharing and listening, members learn to see from different viewpoints, enhancing empathy and broadening their perspectives.
  8. Social Skills Development
    The group becomes a practice ground for new ways of relating, offering a chance to learn and adjust in a supportive setting.
  9. Feedback and Compassion
    Members benefit from giving and receiving feedback, which can lead to greater self-compassion and understanding towards others.

Group therapy is a journey of collective healing. It is the intertwined experiences and the growth born out of communal support that form the heart of this therapeutic approach.

Benefits of Group Therapy

Top Benefits of Group Therapy

Here are some key benefits of group psychotherapy:

  • Shared Experiences: Members draw strength from knowing others face similar issues, which helps normalise their struggles.
  • Diverse Insights: Exposure to different perspectives fosters a broader understanding of one’s own problems.
  • Peer Feedback: Constructive input from fellow members can offer a reality check and promote greater self-awareness.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Generally, group therapy is more affordable than individual therapy, making it accessible to more people.
  • Improved Social Skills: Regular interaction enhances communication and fosters better relationship-building abilities.
  • Accountability: Being part of a group often motivates members to stay committed and engaged with their therapy journey.
  • Learning Opportunities: Observing others’ coping skills and successes can be inspirational and educational.
  • Sense of Community: The group environment provides a broader therapeutic alliance and a sense of belongingness, which can be comforting during tough times.
  • Reduced Isolation: Knowing you’re not alone in your struggles can alleviate feelings of isolation.
  • Collective Wisdom: Groups harness the collective insights and experiences of all members, leading to richer therapeutic outcomes.

These benefits illustrate the multifaceted value of group therapy, making it a powerful modality for those who prefer group treatment as part of their healing process.

What Are Individual Therapy Sessions?

Individual therapy involves one-on-one sessions between a therapist and a client, focusing on the individual’s unique needs and providing a private space to discuss personal issues.

How Do Individual Therapy Sessions Work?

The therapist tailors their approach to the client’s specific challenges, working intensively on personal growth and problem-solving strategies.

Here’s a step-by-step look at how it works:

  1. Initial Consultation
    The journey begins with a one-on-one meeting where the therapist assesses the client’s needs and discusses their goals for therapy.
  2. Customised Treatment Plan
    Based on the initial discussion, the therapist develops a treatment plan that is customised to address the client’s unique issues.
  3. Regular Sessions
    The client and therapist meet regularly, often weekly, providing a consistent opportunity for progress and reflection.
  4. Focused Attention
    Sessions are dedicated solely to the client, allowing the therapist to give their undivided attention and delve deep into personal challenges.
  5. Progress Tracking
    The therapist and client collaboratively monitor progress, adjusting the treatment plan as necessary to ensure it remains aligned with the client’s evolving needs.
  6. Confidentiality
    With a strong emphasis on privacy, individual therapy offers a confidential space to explore sensitive issues without concern for outside judgment.
  7. Therapeutic Techniques
    The therapist employs a variety of techniques, from cognitive-behavioural to psychodynamic strategies, all aimed at the individual’s specific problems.
  8. Homework Assignments
    Clients may receive tasks to work on between sessions, helping to reinforce new skills and apply them in real-world situations.
  9. Emotional Processing
    The client has the freedom to express and process emotions at their own pace, with the therapist’s support and guidance.
  10. Closing and Evaluation
    As therapy concludes, the therapist will work with the client to review progress, consolidate gains, and plan for maintaining improvements post-therapy.

Individual therapies are deeply personal and focused paths towards healing, providing a tailored environment for personal growth and resolution of complex issues.

Benefits of individual therapy

Top Benefits of Individual Therapy

Here are notable advantages of individual therapy sessions:

  • Undivided Attention: Clients receive the therapist’s full focus during sessions, enhancing the depth of the therapeutic experience.
  • Tailored Strategies: Therapists can create highly personalised strategies to meet the exact needs of the client.
  • Greater Confidentiality: Individual sessions offer maximum privacy for discussing sensitive issues.
  • Flexible Pacing: Therapy can move at a pace that’s comfortable and effective for the client.
  • Intensive Support: Clients can explore complex emotions with close guidance from their therapist.
  • Deep Dives: There’s space to delve into personal history and underlying issues without time constraints.
  • Specialised Treatment: Therapists can use specialised techniques suited to the individual’s unique situation.
  • Personalised Homework: Assignments between sessions are crafted to challenge and support the client’s specific growth areas.
  • Scheduling Convenience: Sessions can often be scheduled to fit the client’s timetable.
  • Safe Exploration: Clients can safely explore vulnerabilities and fears without the presence of peers.

The unique advantages of individual therapy make it an appealing option for those seeking a private and deeply focused approach to personal development and healing.

Pros and Cons of Group and Individual Therapy

Choosing between group and individual therapy is a bit like selecting a class at the gym — each has its rhythm and results. Understanding the pros and cons can help you pick the style that complements your pace and preferences.

Below, we’ll lay out the advantages and challenges of each method, so you can weigh them up against what you’re looking to get out of therapy. Then, we’ll touch on who might benefit most from each, giving you a clearer picture of your best fit.

Pros of Group Therapy:

  • Social Support
  • Diversity of Perspectives
  • Affordability
  • Learning Through Others
  • Skill Building

Cons of Group Therapy:

  • Less Privacy
  • Limited Focus on Individual Issues
  • Schedule Rigidity
  • Group Dynamics

Pros of Individual Therapy

  • Personalised Attention
  • Customised Treatment
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Confidentiality

Cons of Individual Therapy:

  • Higher Cost
  • Isolation
  • Self-Reliance

Who Benefits Most?

Group Therapy

Group therapy tends to suit those who are looking for connection and find strength in shared experiences. It’s ideal for individuals who wish to improve their social skills or those who draw motivation from the progress of their peers. The dynamic of a group can also provide a different perspective which can be enlightening to people who feel stuck.

Individual Therapy

Those who desire a space that’s wholly focused on their personal experiences and needs may find individual therapy more beneficial. It’s well-suited for people who value privacy and are looking to dive deep into personal issues, or for those who require a flexible schedule. Individual therapy can be particularly effective for those who are working through intense or complex personal matters that require undivided professional attention.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Group vs Individual Therapy

Here are some key elements to think about when deciding between individual and group therapy.

  • Personal Comfort Levels: Comfort with sharing personal matters in a group setting versus the privacy of individual sessions can influence one’s choice.
  • Privacy and Confidentiality Concerns: Individual therapy guarantees a higher level of confidentiality, which may be important for those dealing with particularly sensitive issues.
  • Therapist Involvement: The level of direct interaction with a therapist differs markedly between group and individual settings, potentially affecting the therapeutic outcome.

Making the Decision: Steps to Choosing the Appropriate Therapy Type

Working on your mental and emotional wellness may require working with more than one therapist and other group members. Here are crucial steps to take when planning your sessions:

Step 1: Do a Self-Evaluation and Goal Setting

Identifying personal therapeutic goals and comfort levels can guide the decision-making process toward the most fitting type of therapy.

Step 2: Consult with a Quality Mental Health Services Administration

Consulting with mental health professionals can provide clarity and professional insight into which therapy method is best suited for your needs. For instance, someone who needs substance abuse treatment will require different treatment plans from one who’s already in relapse prevention training.

Talking to an experienced professional helps you address the technicalities and pacing required for recovery.

Step 3: Think About Your Therapeutic Journey and Long-Term Goals

Reflecting on the preferred therapeutic journey and long-term mental health goals can help steer an individual toward the right choice between group and individual therapy. The individual setup might help with speeding up your treatment with its one-on-one attention, but group dynamics may be critical to improving interpersonal relationships.


Whether it’s the camaraderie of a group or the focused space of one-on-one sessions, your comfort is key. Trust your gut, chat with a professional, and let’s get you on the path that resonates with your preferred healing journey.

Please note that the information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and should not substitute professional medical or mental health advice. If you or someone you know is in immediate distress or needs assistance, please reach out to a mental health professional or helpline in your country or state.

About the editor, Holly Jade

Holly Jade is a Social Worker / Counsellor at Counselling in Melbourne with the following qualifications: BA Social Work, BA Arts, Accredited Holistic Therapist.

Holly works with a wide range of clients, from children to adults, relationships and parenting.

Find out more about Holly here.

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