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Individual and Group Therapy: The Pros and Cons

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  • Individual and Group Therapy: The Pros and Cons

    Are you considering therapy for your son or daughter? Would learning more about the differences be helpful? This is a guest post by Rebecca Alston. … Individual and Group Therapy: The Pros and Cons Read More

    Are you considering therapy for your son or daughter?

    Would learning more about the differences be helpful?

    This is a guest post by Rebecca Alston.

    A parent’s natural inclination is to protect their children from the dangers in the world.

    As a child enters their teen years, they will have a desire to spread their wings and exert their independence. Modern teens are more pressured to experiment with drugs and alcohol than ever.

    A recent study found that nearly 15% of all American teens report consuming drugs and alcohol in the past 30 days. The more illicit substances a young adult consumes, the higher the risk becomes of them getting addicted.

    If your child is struggling with a dependency on drugs and alcohol, your main priority should be getting them the help they need. Finding a substance use rehabilitation facility with a great track record is the best way to help your child with this problem.

    As you start researching rehab facilities in your area, you will notice that some offer individual therapy sessions while others offer group therapy. Below is some information on individual and group therapies and the pros/cons each one provides.

    What you need to know about group therapy

    The first time group therapy sessions were used in the United States was in 1923. Dr. Joseph Hersey Pratt started to use group therapy sessions to help in the treatment of tuberculosis. Dr. Pratt saw that the shared experience and support provided by these group therapy sessions helped the participants.

    Since then, the group therapy approach has been used in substance treatment centers worldwide. According to Behavioral Health Centers, the term group therapy describes a situation where a therapist treats multiple patients simultaneously. The size of the groups in these therapy sessions will vary, but the goal is the same.

    Group therapy sessions can include up to 12 members when used in drug rehabilitation centers. Many experts recommend these group therapy sessions include no fewer than six members.

    How groups are used during substance use treatment

    The human need to congregate can be extremely therapeutic in the right context. Group therapy sessions can provide participants with comfort, guidance, and much-needed insights when used in substance use treatment. If these group therapy sessions are properly structured, a person can learn new social skills while developing healthy attachments.

    Group therapy sessions come in a few basic forms like:
    • Interpersonal Process Groups- During interpersonal process group sessions, a therapist will closely observe how each participant interacts. The main goal of these sessions is to help individuals process past trauma that is the root cause of their desire to use drugs/alcohol.
    • Cognitive Behavioral Groups- These sessions focus on identifying problematic thinking and behavioral issues. The participants in this group are advised on how to change their way of thinking to avoid relapses in the future.
    • Psychoeducational Groups- The main focus of this group is to educate addicts about mental health and the behaviors related to substance abuse.

    The pros

    Using group therapy in a rehabilitation center can provide benefits like:
    • Provides the opportunity to give and receive support
    • People feel like they aren’t alone in group sessions
    • Development of socialization and communication skills
    • Ability to model good behaviors

    The cons 

    While group therapy can provide many benefits, there are also some cons like:
    • A lower level of confidentiality
    • Limited amount of flexibility
    • The person struggling with addiction isn’t the center of attention

    What you need to know about individual therapy

    During individual sessions, licensed psychologist focuses on helping their client work through their emotions, concerns, and bad thoughts. If a teen is dealing with a substance use disorder, there is strong evidence that individual therapy is the best option. This is mainly because individual therapy allows people suffering from this disorder to find the root cause of their addiction.

    In many cases, individual therapy includes motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy. When these tools are used, past trauma fuels their desire to use drugs and alcohol. can be uncovered. 

    Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches how to recognize their triggers. Knowing these triggers can help a person develop strategies for confronting them without using drugs or alcohol.

    Some of the most common triggers include:
    • Social Cues- A person with a history of drug or alcohol use must be careful in certain social situations. Being in a social situation where people use drugs or alcohol can be disastrous. Individual sessions will help a person learn how to avoid these situations.
    • Dealing with Situational Stressors- When confronted with stress from relationships or their job,  a person in early recovery may want to use. Individual sessions with a therapist can help people avoid the desire to self-medicate when confronted with stress.
    • Environmental Factors- Revisiting locations that are tied to your past addiction should also be avoided. Avoiding these places gives a person a better chance of staying sober.

    The advantages 

    When using individual therapy in drug treatment, a person can take advantage of benefits like:
    •       A higher degree of confidentiality
    •       A customized form of therapy
    •       Improved self-awareness
    •       A great way to treat a wide range of mental health problems
    •       Develop a stronger relationship with your therapist
    •       In-depth discussions about past trauma and triggers
    •       One-on-one attention can be helpful

    The disadvantages 

    While there are numerous advantages to using individual therapy to treat substance use, there are also drawbacks like:
    •       Some might exhibit a lack of commitment to change
    •       The absence of peer-to-peer interaction
    •       Individual therapy sessions usually cost more

    Which option is right for your son or daughter?

    Now that you know more about the difference between group and individual therapies, it is time to discuss these options with your son or daughter. With the guidance of substance use professionals, you can decide which treatment option is the best fit.

    Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash