Individual vs. Group Therapy


When entering detox treatment, the recovery process should include counseling opportunities such as group and individual therapy. From a collaborative perspective, group therapy has the potential to connect people based on shared experiences. For this reason, group therapy can be a great way to discover answers to questions related to your recovery journey just from listening to others.

Individual therapy provides you with the opportunity to focus solely on your experiences, thought patterns, and underlying issues related to addiction. Individual therapy is an excellent outlet for airing deeply entrenched thoughts and experiences you may wish to keep from a larger group.

The Point of Therapy in General

Rehabilitative treatment is typically broken into three stages. 

  1. The first stage, known as the detox stage, is intended to do precisely what the name suggests: get rid of the toxic substances affecting your mind and body. This stage is closely monitored by clinical staff offering wellness support, in addition to mental health personal, providing emotional support as needed.
  2. The rehabilitation phase helps us understand the reasons behind our addiction, provide ongoing emotional support, develop accountability, and develop new thought patterns, to name a few. 
  3. Aftercare begins following the intensive phase of rehabilitation. Away from the main rehabilitation campus, these ongoing support groups and individual sessions are meant to build on skills learned over the previous months. Their importance lies in accountability and relapse prevention. 

Individual Therapy: The Basics

Individual therapy focuses on the self. This is time for you to talk about your life, experiences, and everything to do with your addiction. Individual therapy focuses on the why behind your addiction. Depending on underlying causes such as trauma, depression, or anxiety, therapy will vary to a degree between individuals.

Some therapy will focus on challenging rigid thinking patterns. This form of cognitive therapy can help reframe thoughts and challenge negative thought patterns that destroy progress.

During your daily or weekly sessions, you will help identify problem areas in your choices, owning up to feelings while pushing through challenges, and establishing goals.

Going One to One

These sessions can sometimes be challenging, especially when we are trying to work through emotional issues that until now have been buried within our subconscious or been too painful to deal with. Faced with new feelings, we must learn new ways to cope. When we have never had a chance to talk, individual therapy can feel challenging. Opening up may be something we are just not used to doing. It exposes us, makes us vulnerable, and can bring up painful memories.


On the other hand, once we are used to the idea, individual therapy offers a therapeutic benefit in and of itself. How often do we just get to sit and talk and have somebody listen to us? Speaking freely to somebody who is not emotionally attached to our situation gives us an ideal distance from which to talk. We are not judged and we are not told to hurry up; we are in a safe, appropriate environment where our feelings and experiences are validated.

When our feelings and experiences are validated, the realization that we are normal or not crazy can be empowering. For example, if we have experienced trauma or violence, we may have self-medicated, never having had an opportunity to deal with it in a healthy way.

When self-medication turns into addiction, it can cause us to feel shame and a sense of failure. Through counseling, we can understand it is within our power to do something—an essential first step in accountability.

Benefits of Individual Therapy

  • The personalized setting consists of just you and the counselor.  
  • Having the immediate gratification of someone listening to you.
  • The validation of your feelings. 
  • It is tailored to your specific needs and issues.
  • It offers direct accountability; being alone with your counselor in the room makes it difficult to hide.
  • Having the assurance that whatever you say is confidential and will remain in the room.

Consider Group Therapy Too

Group therapy also has its rewards, from sharing your experiences to learning you are not alone. Like individual counseling, it may take time to open up about your struggles and experiences. However, you may find great freedom in sharing with others, finding your stories reflected back to you through acknowledgments and shared experiences.

Group therapy will likely run alongside the individual therapy sessions that you attend during your stay. Each is designed to complement the other, ensuring your rehabilitation is well rounded out by exposure to others’ experiences.

Group Therapy: The Benefits

If you’re still feeling reluctant to speak to others in the group, the summary below may help change your mind. Group therapy offers: 

  • Improved connection with others who are walking the same path.
  • The ability to build relationships with others supportive of an addiction-free lifestyle.
  • The ability to watch how other recovering addicts reach their milestones.
  • A support group that helps you realize you are not alone in your struggles. This can be helpful when you feel you may relapse or you encounter triggers in the future.
  • The ability to build relationships through the support group. This can prevent feeling isolated; it can also give you somebody to call when you feel particularly challenged or have had a bad day.

Support group etiquette is such that we need to wait until it is our turn to speak. This structure can help us learn to respect others’ opinions, which we must listen to because we cannot interrupt. Having to listen before responding helps us learn from someone else’s approach to life and how they handle difficult situations.

Why We Need Both

While some people may have their preferred counseling or support session, individual and group therapy are meant to work together. One is not better than the other.

While you are in intensive rehabilitation, both individual and group therapy sessions will be quite intense, particularly at first. When you exit the program during aftercare, you will be strongly advised to continue attending support groups and counseling. We should expect to integrate our road to recovery into long term lifestyle changes.

Continuing with individual and group therapy as advised can help accomplish this.


 When entering detox treatment, your recovery should include various counseling opportunities that include group and individual therapy. Group therapy has the potential to connect people based on shared experiences, making it ideal to discover solutions and answers related to your recovery journey. On the other hand, individual therapy makes an excellent outlet for airing deeply entrenched thoughts and experiences you may wish to keep from a larger group. Both approaches provide opportunities for personal one on one counselor time, while group support helps build new relationships and models successful outcomes after challenges. Surrounded by the Rocky Mountains’ inspiring landscape, the Detox Center of Colorado offers a solution-based transitional residence program aimed at accountability and recovery. No matter how far you’ve come on your journey to substance abuse or mental health recovery, we look forward to helping you explore the range of supportive treatment and aftercare options available to you. Call the Detox Center of Colorado at (303) 952-5035. It may be the best thing you do for yourself today.

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