Individual vs. Group Counseling

Mar 6, 2009Updated 3 months ago

Counseling is a process whereby the relationship and communication provided allows development of understanding of one's self, explore possibilities, and initiate change. It is motivated by care and concern for the well-being of the recipient, and aim at bringing about behavioral change, problem-solving, personal growth and development when properly implemented.

Advantages of Individual Counseling

The advantages of an individual counseling as opposed to group counseling are multiple:

  • First, it allows the counselor to work in isolated issues.
  • Second, the counselor caters only to one client.
  • Third, the information gathered is easier for the counselor to figure out and to be able to apply which treatment approach is most useful to the client and target behavior that needs improvement.
  • The client’s thoughts and behaviors may not be distorted compared with group counseling as several pattern of thoughts and behaviors from other group members in making choices and decision making.
  • The client has the power to change his life for the better based on the choices he make.
  • In addition to this, he can control his behavior and that the level of commitment and how hard he is willing to work will dictate how successful he will be in developing new behaviors that clearly communicate his needs in accordance with William Glasser’s Reality Therapy.

Disadvantages of Individual Therapy

  • The disadvantages of an individual therapy include the client’s choice is solely from him.
  • The client may not able to generate ideas from other members' pattern of thoughts and behaviors just like in a group setting especially if others have similar issues and experiences which could help him make better choices and decision making.

Group counseling is more in consonance with the Control Theory, later named Choice Theory, forwarded by William Glasser. This theory states that a person’s behavior is inspired by what that person wants or needs at that particular time, not on an outside stimulus.

That all living creatures control their behavior to fulfill their need for satisfaction in one or more of these five areas: survival, to belong and be loved by others, to have power and importance, freedom and independence, and to have fun. The most important need among the five is love and belongingness. Group counseling promotes this kind of feeling. Being connected to others is encouraged in group counseling.

Advantages of Group Counseling

  • Group counseling is better than individual counseling when it comes to developing new behaviors that clearly communicate their needs and help in attaining fulfillment in the reality. Group therapy considers the key elements of what the group are looking for and what will make their life better, what the group will do to bring about what they want and how they are able to make alternative options and come up with common plan.
  • Group counseling also provides members with the opportunities to learn with and from other people and to be able to understand own patterns of thoughts and behaviors, as well as those of others. Other people may see attitudes and behavior patterns that are limiting and difficult to see in self.
  • A group is an opportunity to receive genuine support, honest feedback, and useful alternatives from peers. It also enables members to experiment and work towards improved attitudes and ways of coping with stress. A group may also help individuals with relationship concerns and general difficulties in dealing with other people.

Humans are social creatures by nature and that our primary need is to love and belong. It is therefore essential that we have the capacity to develop and maintain relationships because it is through people that our other needs can be met.

Presenting problems are a result of poor, unfulfilling, or conflict-ridden relationships or the absence of relationships. William Glasser's Choice Theory is applicable in group counseling wherein the group may be able to make effective choices and take greater responsibility.

Disadvantages of Group Counseling

Group counseling has some disadvantages:

  • too such as reflecting too many feelings and listening to far too many long stories;
  • insufficient group member movement and involvement ;
  • not using creative techniques to get and hold the attention of the group members;
  • not supporting techniques with theory and focusing the group sessions insufficiently.

Given the above advantages and disadvantages for individual or group format, it is up to the patient which one serves him or her best.