Treatment Programs

Individual & Group Therapy

Individual & Group Therapy

Recovering from an addiction can be challenging, but not impossible. With the right treatment plan, living a fulfilling life in recovery can be achieved. Two indispensable elements of any comprehensive and effective treatment plan are individual and group therapy. These two types of therapies work together to help the recovering addict learn better ways to handle cravings and cope with triggers that can lead him/her to relapse. However, while their goals may be the same, there are distinct differences between individual and group counseling.

What is Individual Therapy?

Individual therapy, also known as a form of talk therapy, is when the recovering addict meets with a trained mental health professional (e.g. psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor) on a one-on-one basis in a safe space. During these private sessions, they work together to gain insight on the client’s past experiences and identify negative or self-destructive thoughts, and how all of these influence their present behaviors.

The sessions are typically held in the therapist’s office, though any room that provides privacy can be used. The number of sessions per week will depend on the client’s needs. Each session typically lasts 50 minutes to an hour. The type of individual therapy utilized by the therapist will depend on the client’s needs as well as the therapist’s area of expertise. A few examples of the types of individual therapy that have been proven to be effective are Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Trauma-focused Therapy, and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT).

Advantages of Individual Therapy

  • Client confidentiality is easily maintained.
  • Client gets the sole attention of the therapist, allowing him to be more thorough in understanding the client’s specific needs and helping him develop a more individualized treatment plan.
  • Sessions are scheduled at a time that is most convenient to the client.
  • Clients can get immediate feedback from the therapist which can help them develop self-awareness.
  • The relationship between the therapist and the client is stronger

Disadvantages of Individual Therapy

  • Individual therapy usually costs more than group therapy.
  • Individual therapy puts the spotlight on the client; some might struggle at being the center of attention.
  • Some clients are more motivated when they are able to identify with others who share similar issues.

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What is Group Therapy?

In group therapy,  the sessions involve a group of people meeting with one or more therapists at the same time. The participants  often use these sessions to discuss their feelings, experiences, struggles, and goals. Some topics may be specifically related to their recovery such as how to avoid triggers that can cause them to relapse. At other times, the discussion may be about life in general such as how to manage relationships with family and friends.

Group therapy offers participants the opportunity to find strength and support from people who are in a similar situation or suffering from similar addictions. During these sessions, they can learn alternative coping techniques and practice communication skills. Hearing the experiences and insights of their peers can also help participants in viewing their own situation in a new light. Moreover, group therapy can help them form strong, sober relationships with other people that are based on trust.

Unlike with individual therapy, these sessions tend to last one to two hours, depending on the structure of the program. In most cases, each individual is provided a time limit for speaking to ensure that everyone gets a chance to share. Some programs are open to new members, meaning anyone can join at any time. Others are closed which means that the members of the group are always the same. Outpatient programs that offer group therapy are often closed groups while inpatient rehab facilities typically offer open groups. The frequency of the sessions will depend on the setting. Outpatient settings often offer weekly meetings while inpatient facilities typically host group therapy sessions at least two to three times per week.

Advantages of Group Therapy

  • Provides participants with support and motivation from their peers to remain in recovery.
  • Gives participants insight on how others are dealing with their own situations.
  • Empowers participants by encouraging them to help and give feedback to their fellow group members.
  • Helps participants develop relationships with other group members that they can rely on outside of therapy for support.
  • Builds a sense of self-worth and optimism in the participants.
  • Helps participants practice communication and socialization skills.
  • Assures participants that they are not alone in their experience.
  • Group therapy is less expensive than individual therapy.
  • Provides participants with the opportunity to learn and model the successful behaviors of other participants.

Disadvantages of Group Therapy

  • While people in the group are expected to honor confidentiality, there is no guarantee that everyone will do so.
  • The attention of the therapist/s is divided among all the members of the group. Some participants may feel ignored, especially if they are quiet and one or more of the other participants tend to dominate the discussion.
  • Some participants might not be motivated to make changes in their life, letting the focus center on the more successful participants in the group.
  • Because the sessions are scheduled at specific times, it is not always convenient for all the participants to attend.

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Recovering from an addiction isn’t easy, but it can be done. There are plenty of treatments available that have helped people stop abusing drugs and start living productive lives again.