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Group Therapy vs Individual Therapy

At Buckhead Behavioral Health in Atlanta, Georgia, our comprehensive outpatient treatment programs include both group and individual therapy sessions. This gives our clients the advantages of both types of therapy. Still, you could have several lingering questions regarding the pros and cons of group therapy vs individual therapy.

Visit our admissions page today to connect with a mental health professional and learn more about the best treatment options to meet your needs.

Individual Therapy (Pros and Cons)

Individual therapy is one of the most common types of treatment for addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. During individual therapy, you work one-on-one with a licensed mental health professional in private sessions. That way, you can focus on issues important and unique to you.

Individual therapy sessions generally focus on the following areas:

  • Traumatic experiences
  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Goal setting
  • Thoughts and beliefs
  • Self-esteem
  • Coping with stress and relapse triggers
  • Motivation to change


The primary advantage of individual therapy over group therapy is that the sessions focus only on you. You can direct the conversation, change the topic based on your current needs, and you get the sole attention of your therapist during your sessions. Because of this, you get a chance to explore unique issues and develop new coping strategies.


One of the cons of individual therapy is the price. Since you’re getting the full attention of a therapist, you’ll have to pay a higher rate than if you were in a group. Depending upon your insurance coverage, you might have a co-pay per session.

Another disadvantage to individual therapy is that it could be influenced by personal bias. Unlike a group session, you don’t get multiple perspectives on what you share. So, during individual therapy, your therapist might disregard information or project their own experiences onto you.

Group Therapy (Pros and Cons)

Group therapy sessions are lead by a mental health professional but include treating multiple clients at the same time. Each group brings together people with similar issues to share experiences, provide feedback, and empower one another. This can help clients discover new coping skills and feel a sense of belonging among their peers.

Group therapy sessions can include variations such as:

  • Process groups
  • Psychoeducational classes
  • Specific modalities, such as CBT or DBT


Group therapy gives you different ways of learning new coping skills. For one thing, you can simply listen to what others have to say without needing to share, which might take some pressure off if you aren’t sure what to talk about. In addition, the group can help you feel less alone in your struggles.

You can also practice interpersonal skills with your peers in recovery. For instance, you might role-play a conflict you have with a loved one by acting out an argument with another member of your group. You also get encouragement from your peers, and you can empower others by sharing your feedback and insight on the topic of your session.

Lastly, group therapy is less expensive than individual therapy because the cost is split among the participants.


A disadvantage of group therapy vs individual therapy is that topics important to you could be overlooked. Oftentimes, the entire group dictates where the session goes, so you might have a pressing concern that never comes up. This can be challenging for you if you are shy or struggling with self-confidence.

Which is More Effective—Group Therapy vs Individual Therapy?

According to the American Psychological Association (APA) in their magazine Monitor on Psychology, “group therapy is as effective as individual therapy for a wide range of symptoms and conditions.” Of course, this depends on the symptoms that you need to treat. In some cases—especially during addiction treatment—group therapy can be more advantageous because it can reduce stigma and increase feelings of belonging among peers.

However, not every condition or symptom can get the attention needed during group therapy. So, for some issues, individual therapy can be more effective due to specific modalities requiring one-on-one attention. For instance, brainspotting, a type of therapy that helps with underlying trauma, cannot be done in a group session.

In short, neither group nor individual therapy is more or less effective than the other overall. The key difference in their effectiveness depends on the individual, their symptoms, and diagnosis.

Which Type of Therapy is Best for Me?

As far as choosing the best type of therapy for yourself, you can speak to a professional about your treatment needs. They can direct you to therapies that will work best for your symptoms and conditions. Aside from group versus individual therapy, there are different modalities to consider, such as:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): During CBT, you work on changing unhealthy thought patterns and beliefs that influence your behaviors. This type of therapy can be part of either individual or group therapy.
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): DBT helps people who struggle with “all-or-nothing” thinking and extreme emotional reactions. Like CBT, you can also work on DBT in both a group and individual setting.
  • Motivational interviewing (MI): Sometimes, you don’t know why you’re in addiction or mental health treatment and haven’t found any motivation important to you. For instance, you could be in treatment due to legal issues or pressure from family. MI is a type of individual therapy that can help you discover why treatment is important for you.

But, considering which is best—group therapy vs individual therapy—you can benefit from both throughout your treatment program.

Combining Both Group and Individual Therapy

Most treatment programs combine both group and individual therapy. That way, you get the advantages of both types. In addition, the disadvantages of one can be balanced out by the other. Oftentimes, group sessions give you the chance to practice and share things you’ve learned during individual therapy.

By getting both group and individual therapy, you learn even more and develop an array of coping skills to help you along in your recovery journey.

Begin Therapy in Atlanta Today

Therapy can help you learn more about yourself and the reasons you engage in maladaptive behaviors. You also get insight into the underlying causes of addiction and mental health disorders. At Buckhead Behavioral Health, you can participate in both group and individual therapy during your outpatient treatment program.

Contact us today to begin therapy in Atlanta.

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