Call us today
What are the Differences Between Individual and Group Therapy?
Group therapy was originally conceived by a physician who attempted to instruct groups of individuals regarding the care of tuberculosis. This physician, Dr. J. H. Pratt, noticed that individuals in groups began to support one another, and he actually began referring to his educational sessions as group psychotherapy. Group psychotherapy became increasingly popular after World War II when groups of combat veterans were treated together.
In essence, individual therapy occurs when one or more therapists work with a single individual in the same session, versus group therapy which is defined by treatment delivered by one or more therapists to one or more individuals in the same session.
As mentioned above, group therapy consists of a number of different conditions where one or more therapists treats at least two individuals in the same session. Typically, the number of therapists running group sessions is one or two; however, some special cases may require more therapists or assistants to run particular types of groups. The size of the group being treated will vary, depending on the type of therapy being delivered and on several other factors. For example, most often, marital therapy (a type of group therapy where spouses are being treated) typically consist of only two clients. Group therapy for substance use disorders may consist of 10 or more individuals, depending on the therapist. In general, research indicates that the most effective groups typically have a maximum number of 6-12 clients; however, depending on the nature of the group, there may be more than 20 individuals.
Group therapy offers some specific advantages that make it attractive for both the therapist and the clients being treated. According to scholarly sources, such as The Handbook of Group Counseling and Psychotherapy, these are benefits of individuals working together in groups and do not necessarily indicate that group therapy is superior in any way to individual therapy (see below).
According to Dr. Yalom, there are various benefits that can occur as a result of group processes:
One of the most accomplished researchers and writers of how group processes contribute to group therapy outcomes is the psychiatrist Dr. Irvin D. Yalom who published extensively regarding group processes in therapy and about the advantages of having clients working in groups.
While there are some advantages to the group therapy process, there are also some weaknesses associated with the group therapy.
Call now to speak to a consultant about your treatment options.
Call Now (888) 516-2984
As mentioned above, individual psychotherapy occurs when there is one individual being treated by one or more therapists. There are several advantages to participating in individual therapy sessions.
Some of the relative weaknesses of individual psychotherapy follow:
In general, the majority of the research suggests that individual therapy and group therapy are effective for treating nearly every type of problem, psychological disorder, or issue that is addressed within a therapeutic or counseling environment. Some individuals may be more suited to working in groups based on the above discussion of the strengths of group therapy, whereas others may be more suited to working in individual situations. In addition, a number of different therapeutic paradigms, such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy, use both group and individual therapy, and individuals benefit from both.
The choice to become involved in group or individual therapy will depend on a number of different factors, including affordability, one’s comfort level with discussing problems in front of other individuals, and the type of intervention being used. Neither form of therapy is “better” than the other, but both represent different approaches to reaching the same goal.