Individual vs. Group Therapy: What's the Best Choice for You?


Sober Recovery Expert Author

Therapy is an integral part of any addict’s treatment. After all, psychological factors are always at play in addiction. Once a user has physically detoxed from a substance, it’s important that he or she works with medical professionals to address the underlying issues that may have caused the addiction in the first place. In some cases, because mental illness may co-occur with the substance abuse, therapy becomes a mandatory step towards stabilizing the user’s mental and emotional health.

Most recovery centers offer either individual or group therapy. Below, we determine the key differences as well as the pros and cons of the two so you can make an informed decision on what’s best for you.

Individual and group therapies can both help strengthen the process of recovery. Learn about the biggest differences between the two.

Individual Therapy

Individual therapy involves sitting alone in regular meetings with a licensed therapist. Unless directed by the therapist, no one accompanies the client during these sessions. With each meeting, the individual begins to chip away at issues that may have influenced the addiction. The therapist can also help the patient address any underlying mental health illnesses and refer him or her to a doctor if medication is necessary. Individual therapy often becomes an ongoing part of the patient’s life and has been proven highly effective in treating drug and alcohol abuse as well as other addiction-related issues.


  • The patient receives undivided attention.
  • The patient is able to delve deeply into his or her addiction struggle.
  • The patient trusts the therapist sooner.


  • The patient may feel as though he or she is being put on the spot.
  • The patient might have difficulty opening up without witnessing others doing it first.
  • The patient may feel cornered into speaking when he or she would instead prefer to spend time listening.

Group Therapy

Group therapy takes place with a group of people and one licensed therapist. Usually, the people in the group all struggle with addiction and can relate to one another through that shared difficulty. This environment provides individuals a safe place to open up as they realize that they are not alone in their trials. For many patients, the built-in support network is also useful. Since recovering addicts often lose touch with people in their old social circle, group therapy provides the opportunity to get to know people who are on the same journey.

A session that incorporates the therapist, the addict and the addict’s friends, family members and colleagues may also be referred to as group therapy. Sometimes, the therapist decides to bring in members of the patient’s life all together for a specific purpose. Regardless of the mode of therapy, this often provides a sense of camaraderie and a higher level of understanding for the primary patient.


  • The patient develops a supportive network of people who understand an addiction struggle.
  • The patient realizes that he or she is not suffering alone.
  • The patient feels as though he or she can smoothly transition into speaking up and feeling comfortable with the reality of his or her addiction.


  • The patient may feel uncomfortable discussing his or her addiction with others.
  • The patient may feel uncomfortable discussing touchy subjects from his or her past in the presence of others.
  • The patient may dislike that the therapist diverts attention away from him or her. If so, this individual may be better suited for a one-on-one.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy, please visit our directory of counseling and therapy centers or call 866-606-0182 to start the path to recovery today.

Stay Connected
Subscribe to our newsletter to get addiction help, recovery inspiration and community tips delivered to your inbox.
No Thanks. I'm not Interested