An Overview of Group and Individual Therapy in Rehab

Group and individual therapy are among the treatment options provided in a comprehensive addiction treatment program.  Having both types of therapy is essential for a variety of reasons.  Each form of therapy plays a vital role in helping a person maintain sobriety after treatment.

Researchers have studied the effectiveness of group vs. individual therapy.  As a result of the studies, they have concluded that both forms of therapy are equally effective in addiction treatment.

At Design for Change Recovery, we understand the value of combining group and individual therapy in our treatment curriculum.  Each form of therapy offers various benefits that work together to address each client’s unique situation.  Learn more about our treatment options by contacting our Lancaster, CA facility today.

What Is Group Therapy?

In a group therapy session, multiple clients meet with others who are dealing with the same struggles associated with substance use disorders. Group sessions are led by a trained mental health professional who has experience and is certified in group therapy techniques.  During the sessions, the therapist ensures that the environment is safe and supportive and that each person has the opportunity to speak.

In group therapy, clients share their life experiences and gain valuable input from their peers.  The purpose of group sessions is to develop trust among participants and improve their communication skills.  In time, they become more comfortable with expressing their feelings openly. 

>  What Topics are Covered in Group Therapy?

A variety of topics are discussed in group therapy, but these are some of the most common subjects covered:

  • Education on addiction
  • Managing challenging emotions
  • Managing stress and triggers
  • How to deal with relapse
  • Managing withdrawal symptoms and craving
  • Coping with emotional trauma and grief
  • Managing medications
  • Setting and enforcing boundaries
  • Understanding codependency
  • Dealing with mental disorders

One of the most important aspects of group therapy is to help clients feel that they are not alone in their struggle with addiction and recovery.  

>  Pros and Cons of Group Therapy

Group settings are beneficial for helping clients relate to others, build trust in others, and earn trust from them.  Clients learn to listen to others more carefully and to talk more openly.  Furthermore, they learn how to set healthy boundaries and respect those set by others.

A disadvantage of group therapy is the sessions are subject to group dynamics.  Establishing rapport between group participants and providing a satisfying experience takes time.

What Is Individual Therapy?

In individual therapy, a mental health professional works with a client in private sessions.  It is the therapist’s ethical duty to maintain confidentiality regarding what the client shares during the therapy session.  However, confidentiality can be waived in the following situations:

  • The client is in danger of self-harm
  • The client cannot take care of their basic needs
  • The client appears likely to harm others
  • A court order requesting records from the sessions

Most individual therapy sessions last about 50 to 60 minutes.  The meetings can take place in a therapist’s office, a meeting room, a classroom, or an outdoor area if privacy is not compromised.

The goal of individual therapy is to help clients understand how their past experiences have influenced their present.  Clients also gain insight into how emotions and beliefs influence their current behaviors.  

> What Topics are Covered in Individual Therapy?

Individual therapy sessions may explore a variety of subjects, but most therapists focus on the following:

  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Barriers to sobriety
  • Learning new coping skills
  • Managing cravings and withdrawals
  • Recovery progress
  • Future goals

Many therapists integrate non-confrontational approaches such as motivational interviewing and integrative therapy.  This approach helps clients understand and adapt to new behavioral changes. The process often involves strategies such as asking open-ended questions, affirmations, and reflective listening.

>  Pros and Cons of Individual Therapy

One of the main benefits of individual therapy is that the effects will last longer than the therapy itself.  The skills learned in therapy can be implemented in various aspects of daily life.  

A disadvantage of individual therapy is that it doesn’t allow clients to interact with others who may be experiencing similar problems.  

Combining Group and Individual Therapy in Rehab

An integrated approach to addiction treatment combines group and individual therapy as part of a comprehensive program.  The program may include a variety of modalities including, but not limited to:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy  

CBT is widely used in addiction treatment facilities today.  Therapists guide clients into identifying negative thought patterns and replacing them with positive thoughts.  CBT is an evidence-based psychotherapeutic treatment that helps a person learn effective coping skills for relapse prevention.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

DBT helps clients with emotional or mental disorders learn to manage their lives more productively.  A person can build self-acceptance and enhance their motivation to change their behavior through this therapeutic approach.  The therapy can help relieve depression and anxiety.  The therapy also teaches better methods for managing hard-to-control emotions.    

Motivational Interviewing

MI is a technique that helps clients deal with ambivalence regarding their behaviors.  With a nonjudgmental, positive stance on addiction, viewing it as a chronic disorder, not a moral weakness. To achieve sobriety, clients must approach it on their own terms and be motivated to do so.

Relapse Prevention

The ultimate goal of addiction treatment is to help clients acquire the skills, confidence, and motivation to maintain sobriety for the long term.  Relapse prevention focuses on helping a person learn practical coping mechanisms for dealing with stress and triggers in everyday life.  The program can continue as part of an aftercare plan following rehab.

Which Type of Therapy is Better?

Both group and individual therapy are integral parts of an effective addiction treatment program.  For therapy outside of an addiction treatment facility, you can choose a therapeutic approach based on factors such as:

  • Cost
  • Your personal needs
  • Personal preferences
  • Your need for accountability
  • A desire to improve personal relationships
  • Strength of the support system

Of course, to ensure that all your needs are met, group and individual therapy are provided as part of most rehabilitation programs.  You won’t have to choose between the two.  Depending on your needs, both forms of therapy will be available. 

Group and Individual Therapy at Design for Change Recovery

At Design for Change Recovery, we believe in your ability to overcome substance use.  With our help and the right treatment plan, you will succeed.  We offer a variety of treatment options to make sure that our clients get the highest level of treatment available. 

Our programs are designed to address the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of addiction.  With this level of care, our clients are equipped with the education, skills, and motivation to attain their full potential in life.  

We understand that you may be avoiding treatment because you can’t afford the cost.  Don’t let that keep you from getting the help you need.  At Design for Change, we will work with your insurance provider to ensure that you get affordable treatment.  Otherwise, a variety of financial options will be available to you if you don’t have insurance.

To find out how we can help you overcome addiction and get back in control of your life, contact our Lancaster, California facility today.  An experienced counselor will be able to recommend a treatment plan that’s right for you.


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