Should you do group counseling or one-on-one?

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This article was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.

Deciding whether or not you want to seek help from a mental health professional can be a big step for a lot of people. Knowing precisely what you want and what kind of counseling is best for you can be challenging to figure out. While a huge range of options are available out there, we can put most of them into two broad categories – group counseling and one-on-one sessions.

One-on-one Sessions

One-on-one sessions are probably the most well-known and the easiest kind to find. Additionally, they are the most convenient to create time for since you only need to consider scheduling with one other person. Speaking with just one other person can give you the attention that you might need to delve deeper into one topic or a whole range of them.

Group Counseling

As the name suggests, group counseling happens in a group. Generally speaking, this means having one person who acts as the facilitator and leads the group in discussions or activities. Activities might include community service or outdoor projects like beekeeping. If you’re curious, BeeKeepClub has all the information that someone looking to focus their energy on something relaxing might want about starting their own hive.

Usually, group counseling sessions focus on a specific theme or topic. This can include a range of things like substance addiction and recovery, grief, our shared trauma.

Sometimes we need multiple perspectives or a sense of shared experience. This is where group counseling can truly give people something that one-on-one sessions can’t. Additionally, many find comfort in knowing that there are other people going through similar experiences. In fact, many people who attend group counseling sessions report a large sense of shared empathy that can be reassuring.

Consider What You’re Comfortable With

One of the first things you should ask yourself when considering different kinds of counsel is what you’re comfortable with and where your personal boundaries are. Some people don’t want more than one person around them when discussing difficult topics. On the other hand, some people find it calming to be in an emotionally open setting but very distressing to have all of the focus on them.

While group counseling can do a lot of good for people, some aren’t ready or comfortable to hear stories that are similar to theirs. In that case, group therapy sessions can sometimes be awkward, difficult, or even distressing.

Consider What Your Goals Are

If you’re considering counseling in any form, then it’s good to keep in mind what you want to get out of it. Your personal goals with counseling can do a lot to inform you what kind would best match those needs.

Group counseling most often has a sort of direction or path that’s set out by the facilitator and adjusted for the attendees. Likewise, group counseling tends to focus on a specific theme or subject. With that in mind, if you have a more concrete and specific goal, then one-on-one is probably the best path. The same is true if you think that you need to discuss a larger range of subjects and themes.

Learn more about counseling with a variety of medically-reviewed articles from the team at BetterHelp.

The Choice isn’t Black and White

When it comes to working through something difficult, choosing group counseling or one-on-one sessions isn’t an either/or decision. If you think it could be beneficial for you, you can attend group counseling sessions in tandem with seeing a mental health professional in a one-on-one setting. Everyone’s situation is different and calls for different tools to help.

At the same time, what you need in terms of help can change over time. Choosing to do one kind of counseling doesn’t mean you can’t change things up later on. For example, you could start by seeing a counselor in one-on-one sessions, then change to doing that and also going to group counseling, and then changing to only seeing a group.

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