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Benefits of Group and Individual Therapy

Benefits of Therapy, Benefits of Individual Therapy,

It may seem as though a person who is doing individual therapy might not need group therapy as well. In fact, both types of therapy can complement each other, and both are often recommended for mental health and substance use issues. 

At Highland Hospital in Charleston, West Virginia, we believe that individual and group therapy are equally effective and can reinforce one another, increasing the benefits they each provide. 

Benefits of Individual Therapy

Individual therapy sessions are not better or worse than group sessions for treating mental health, but they do have different advantages. Some of these include:

  • Allowing participants the opportunity to focus exclusively on their unique goals and needs 
  • Greater privacy, which may allow for a higher degree of disclosure from patients
  • A setting free from cliques or other social stressors
  • The opportunity for patients who struggle in group settings to continue to get the mental health support they need
  • May create less anxiety for some patients than a therapy group
  • More room for clients to be inconsistent in their scheduling because it won’t interrupt the continuity of a group

Benefits of Group Therapy

There have been numerous benefits identified with participating in group therapy sessions. Some of these are specific to certain demographics of people and some are more general. Some examples include:

  • Allowing patients who distrust authority figures to build rapport and adopt a cooperative attitude more easily, which can then transfer to their therapist for individual sessions
  • Taking the burden off of less talkative individuals
  • Giving participants access to a wider range of problem-solving skills
  • Reducing the perception that no one else has had painful feelings or difficult experiences
  • Helping the patient to feel heard by their peers
  • Providing practice for developing interpersonal and communication skills
  • Allowing the therapist to see how the patient interacts in a group dynamic 

What Makes a Good Therapy Group

To be as effective as possible, therapy groups should be built around shared traits, such as:

  • Age – it is common for groups to contain only teens, only young adults, or only elderly adults, which allows for a connection around stage-of-life issues
  • Gender – some patients may find it easier to talk or focus when the only other participants are other men or other women. If their concerns are based on experiences they had due to gender, gender-specific groups may make it easier for them to connect with each other 
  • Diagnosis – groups may focus on addressing concerns specific to depression, PTSD, anxiety, or bipolar disorder
  • Experiences – if all group members are Veterans, sexual assault survivors, former gang members, cancer survivors, etc., they may find it easier to connect with each other and navigate shared difficulties

A group should also:

  • Set rules and goals that are agreed upon by members
  • Have a facilitator who makes sure none of the individuals get lost in the group process 
  • Require that members attend consistently
  • Have a prepared agenda for each session to enhance predictability and help group members feel safe

Benefits of Therapy in General

Regardless of whether therapy is delivered in a group or individually, some of the most commonly identified benefits include:

  • The chance to work on important goals the patient needs to address
  • Guidance through difficult experiences
  • Support in managing difficult feelings
  • Education in strategies for managing stress
  • Empowerment for participants to live happier, fuller lives
  • Increased insight into the patient’s own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors
  • Improved effectiveness of medications used to manage mental health

By watching for gradual changes in mood, mindset, and behaviors, participants and their support systems should be able to see the results of therapy over time. Sometimes, these changes are evident in as little as two to three months, but long-term change generally requires a long-term commitment.

At Highland Hospital Behavioral Health, we not only see the value of offering therapy in group and individual sessions, but we also offer many different therapeutic approaches, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), recreational therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR). We build a unique recovery plan for each patient we serve, utilizing evidence-based practices that have been shown to work for others with similar struggles.

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