People tend to have strong opinions on group counseling vs. individual therapy, if not therapy and psychology as a whole. You’ll find a myriad of stories to demonstrate whether one is better than another. Others form their opinions based on what they may have seen in films or the media, that group counseling activities are a group of people complaining while individual therapy is a single person complaining; neither of which is true.
While group counseling isn’t for everyone, neither is individual therapy. Neither is better than the other, it depends on the kind of help or support you’re looking for. Let’s dispel some notions as to if group counseling is as effective as individual therapy and see how being in a group may be the solution best for you.
Group Counseling and How You Relate to Others
Some would say that if the problem you’re having is very private, then don’t engage in group counseling. What kind of logic is that? No one goes to a therapist to brag about an issue they may be having, they go for help and support. Sometimes that help is best found using group counseling techniques meant to find how you relate to others. For example, if you initially see a therapist because you’re experiencing issues in forming lasting platonic and romantic bonds, a therapist would want to see how you relate to others. That would be much more helpful in solving your problem than speaking alone with a therapist. How we behave in groups is much different than how we behave in private.
That’s another key point in why group counseling can be more effective than individual therapy, we behave differently in groups. A lot of put up a different face when seeing a person one on one. Now, knowing that the person you’re meeting with is actively listening and trying to map your behavior can cause your behavior to adjust even more. While doing group counseling activities, you can get lost in the socialization of what you’re doing and let your “true colors fly” so to speak.
Group Counseling and Feeling Alone
A lot of people feel like the only one with their problem or they just feel alone. Loneliness is a serious problem and it isn’t always solved with more friends. One of the group counseling techniques kind of “built-in” to it is that you see first-hand that you’re not the only one. People tend to become embarrassed about similar things or seek group counseling for similar reasons. It can be an empowering experience and help you feel reconnected to others.
Another way you reconnect in group counseling is by noticing your own behavior. This may be a head-scratcher, to reconnect with yourself but, how aware are you of your own behaviors when socializing? Do you tend to apologize a lot, for no reason? In a group counseling session, that may be pointed out to you and you can overcome it. Connecting with yourself is partly about observing yourself, getting to know you all over again. Friends and family tend to be polite and even if they have pointed out behaviors before, they aren’t usually equipped to help you deal with them in a healthy way. Not to say that group counseling replaces your family or a good group of friends but, it does have the tools to provide you with the help and support you’re seeking.
You Feel Heard and Supported in Group Counseling
When talking with others, people tend to be preparing what they’re going to say rather than actively listening. When sharing concerns or problems you may be having and seeking advice from others, their responses may not leave you feeling heard, possibly misunderstood. Group counseling techniques are led by a professional who knows these statics and actively works to help you feel heard while the rest of the group, sharing in what you’re saying, leave you feeling supported.
This isn’t to say that individual therapy sessions don’t leave you feeling heard and supported but, group counseling activities embolden that feeling further. You don’t have one professional you’re paying having you feel that way, you have a group of people going through similar experiences with you that are helping you to feel that way. It’s closer to camaraderie than purposeful conversation. Both individual and group counseling support you, it depends on the kind you need that supports you best.
Group Counseling or Individual Therapy?
You are the only judge here and while it’s important to take your therapist’s advice into your decision, do you think you’re better served by group counseling rather than individual sessions? Usually, you’d start with individual counseling unless its addiction based and then your therapist would recommend a specific treatment for you; including group counseling.
The most important thing to remember is that there is no shame or embarrassment in seeking some extra support or help for any experience you’re going through. That is what places like Avalon Counseling are here for, to help you overcome and strengthen yourself whether it be through individual therapy or group counseling.
Explore our services and see how we can help you.