One of the questions we can ask ourselves when we go to the psychologist is “what kind of therapy do I need” or “which would be better for my problem”.
It is important to find out what type of professional can best adapt to the treatment of the specific problem, since psychologists have different clinical orientations, sometimes there are more indicated and specific methodologies according to which disorders and problems.
In this article we will review several key ideas to consider about how to choose between group and individual therapy , so that it is easier to choose between intervention modalities.
Choosing between individual or group therapy: how to decide?
Fortunately, there are more and more strategies and tools to achieve more effective therapeutic results, thanks to continuous research in the area of clinical and health psychology.
As for the decision of which type of therapy to choose, individual or group, we must take into account the problem or disorder to be treated on the one hand, and the profile and characteristics of the patient, on the other .
For example, there are certain problems that are treated very effectively in group therapy, but if the person in question presents a certain symptomatology, some other added problem or important difficulties for the work in the group dynamics, it is necessary to evaluate very well if the most convenient is the individual therapy.
In individual therapy the patient only interacts with the psychologist or therapist , while in group therapy there is interaction between patients in the group and also between the psychologist and the group and each of them.
Characteristics of group therapy
We cannot say that one mode is better than the other, because it has been proven that both are effective and have their advantages . For example, in group therapy we find the following positive characteristics.
1. You can learn from other group members
The fact that we are more people makes it possible to share experiences , to review results that have worked for others, to take into account other points of view than our own, to share doubts and to participate in the joint search for solutions.
2. Create an environment where there is no judgment
When problems are shared in a homogeneous group, that is, when all the members of the therapeutic group are going through the same type of process, feeling that we are part of a common problem and that others also suffer and understand us, produces relief. Not feeling judged makes it easier to feel understood .
3. Enhances problem solving by relating to each other
Group therapy is most enriching when working towards learning and practicing certain coping skills (e.g. in social skills workshops).
This is because in these sessions tasks are practiced that set in motion the improvement and solution of problems on a social level , so that later this practice in the group context can be transferred to the daily life of each patient once the appropriate and most functional behaviours have been understood.
4. Encourages commitment to improvement
Taking advantage of the strength and cohesion of the group is a very important aspect to work on awareness of illness and decision making for change.
In particular, in addiction self-help groups it has been proven that this is necessary. For the treatment of addictions, group therapy is indicated, often combined with individual therapy, because it contributes to good results. The group acts as a “brake” for the addicted patient especially at the beginning of a treatment.
Also in the groups where specific phobias, duels, etc. are treated, we can say that the group gives “push” when facing the problem.
5. Less costs
The economic part is also an advantage , since group therapy is usually cheaper than individual therapy.
Characteristics of individual therapy
Individual therapy allows the above aspects to be addressed, but in a context of greater intimacy that in some cases group therapy does not provide .
Although it must be said that this depends on the patient; there are those who are more reluctant to talk about themselves in a group, or who because of their own pathology do not have it easy, and there are those who, on the contrary, have no problem sharing and expressing their emotions and difficulties in front of others.
Both options are equally valid, although for the practice and learning of tools at a social level, group therapy is usually more recommendable due to the similarity of the group context with the social context of each person.