What’s Better: Individual or Group Therapy?

06/04/20: Treatment Options

When you are going through the first initial stages of addiction recovery, you will likely go through some different kinds of therapy to help you cope with this newfound sobriety. When you’ve been trapped in addiction for some time, it can be a difficult thing to overcome. Your brain has been rewired to think that substances are necessary for you to function normally. A huge part of addiction recovery therapy is rewiring your brain to what it was before substances took control. However, this is easier said than done. Therapy is used as a means of rewiring a substance-addicted mind and there are two kinds of therapy that people often engage in: individual and group therapy.

These two kinds of therapies are staples in the recovery process, but is one better than the other? Today we’ll be answering the question, “What’s better? Individual or group therapy?”

Individual Therapy

First on our to-do list is defining individual therapy. Individual therapy is when a person receives one-on-one therapy sessions with a licensed counselor or therapist. The great thing about individual therapy is the client can receive the full, undivided attention of their therapist. Therapists work directly with the clients in a controlled environment, which allows them to receive an intense and focused therapeutic experience.

With individual therapy, the client and the therapist can establish a closer connection and a stronger alliance. Typically, clients are able to open up easier in individual therapy because there is no one else there. Sometimes, it can be hard for people to open up about their past when there are more people around. With an individual therapist, a client is guaranteed complete confidentiality; whatever they choose to share is safe between the therapist and client. Since there is a stigma around addiction that causes many addicts to feel shame when people learn of their struggles, individual therapy is often more appealing. 

Individual therapy is tailored towards the client’s needs rather than a collective’s needs. This is just another way for former addicts to tailor their own pace for their journey into sobriety. This form of therapy is specifically for the individual, clients are able to take whatever pace they’re comfortable with. It does take some time for a person to open up to someone they do not know, but eventually, the therapist and client will form a strong alliance. This creates a safe space for the client to share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences in an effort to get to the root of their problems with addiction. 

Now, let’s discuss group therapy for addiction recovery. 

Group Therapy

Contrary to individual therapy, group therapy consists of more than one individual being treated in a single environment. This kind of therapy typically has one or more therapists are treating two or more than two individuals at a time. The sizes of these groups vary, but the number of therapists is usually one or two, depending on the size of the group. More specifically, group addiction recovery therapy often consists of 10 or more individuals. Research has shown that for these groups to be effective, there should be no more than 15 individuals to one therapist. The bigger the group, the less a person can share. For more effective results, groups should be somewhere between 6-12 individuals. This kind of therapy is also generally more affordable than individual therapy.

One of the great advantages of group therapy is that a person can realize that they are not alone in their struggles. As we mentioned previously, there is a massive stigma surrounding addiction; many people view it as a personal problem. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. People all over the world struggle with addiction and it is far from a choice. When a person surrounds themselves with other people that are having the same/similar problems, they will start to realize they are not alone and what they’re going through is not out of the ordinary. This can help alleviate unnecessary stress and anxiety they may experience after their initial decision to start living sober.

Not only is the therapist able to help provide support to the clients, but clients are able to provide support to one another. Let’s say one person is having an especially difficult time opening up about their past struggles … if they see more people opening up about their past struggles with addiction, they may feel more comfortable sharing their own experiences sooner than they would in individual therapy. This can help them develop a greater sense of self after hearing people who suffer from the same kinds of issues.

This kind of therapy can also help a person develop better communication and social skills. In group therapy, you’re encouraged to work and communicate with others more than you would in individual therapy. They could even create real friendships out of the connections they develop in group therapy. Accountability partners and sober friendships can be easily formed while in group therapy sessions. 

Which is better? Individual or Group Therapy

So now, this begs the question: What’s better? Individual or Group Therapy? The answer is not so simple! There is no “one size fits all” therapy because humans are unique and have different needs. Individual therapy may work great for one person, but it may not work great for another. One former addict may have an easier time opening up in group settings while another may have a more difficult time doing so. This is why the answer to the question is neither. Neither individual or group therapy is better than the other.

There are plenty of factors a person should consider to determine which form of therapy is best for them. Financial status, social abilities, communication skills, etc. all play a significant role in determining which kind of therapy is better for a person. There are plenty of other factors a person will need to consider before choosing individual or group therapy for their addiction recovery, but ultimately they will be able to figure out which kind of therapy will ultimately be best for them. 


If you or someone you know needs help with addiction, contact 602-737-1619 or email [email protected] to get the help you need. Our acclaimed recovery environment merges upscale, luxury accommodations with affordability, clinical expertise and an unwavering commitment to patient care and aftercare.

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