Group Counseling and Individual Counseling
August 16, 2019
Addiction is a disease that requires a multi-pronged approach to care because of how much it impacts one’s physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Consistently abusing mind-altering substances breaks down the body in a number of different ways, depending on what type of substance is being abused. For instance, individuals addicted to meth can experience tooth decay, acne, and skin sores, while those addicted to heroin can develop a chronic cough and experience problems with their liver. In addition to these consequences is the potential for further physical harm due to being under the influence.
Outside of the physical repercussions associated with substance abuse are the everyday consequences that people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol often face. These include unemployment, engaging in illegal acts to obtain drugs or alcohol, struggling to find somewhere to live, and depending on others for basic survival needs like food and clothes.
To add even more to the burden are the psychological complications that stem from continued substance abuse. For many, the mental effects of using are the most challenging with which to deal. These effects range from mild irritability to severe depression and even suicidal behaviors, and it is often the most important aspect of one’s care to get their mental health taken care of.
Within addiction treatment centers throughout the world, there are a number of therapies that are typically always included in a client’s treatment plan, even treatment plans that involve Medication-Assistance Treatment (MAT). Individual counseling and group counseling are two of those therapies, and both have proven to provide positive life-changing benefits to patients who utilize them.
Individual counseling might seem like the most generic form of addiction treatment, but it is anything but. Clients who participate in individual counseling get the opportunity to work one-on-one with a trained counselor focused solely on his or her case during their sessions.
This not only allows a professional to review and consistently rework one’s treatment plan for his or her betterment, it also allows for a bond to develop between counselor and the client. Individual counseling sessions can go on for as long as a client wants, as there is always work that can be done from a mental health standpoint.
Having the chance to make a connection with someone familiar with one’s case can make disclosing information, emotions, thoughts, and beliefs much easier. In turn, this allows counselors to continue providing the most appropriate treatment for the client.
Unlike in a group counseling sessions, clients involved in individual counseling participate in specific activities and exercises that are relevant to their own unique treatment needs. This means that if a client has a history of trauma—as is often the case among active duty or retired military persons—his or her counselor can provide the appropriate tools and treatments so that he or she can address that trauma. If there is a behavioral issue occurring, the counselor can utilize cognitive behavioral therapy or some other form of behavior therapy. This one-on-one setting allows for personalized care in ways that group counseling does not.
Individual counseling sessions have proven to be effective in the treatment of mental illnesses and substance use disorders because of these and many other reasons.
While individual counseling is an extremely beneficial form of addiction treatment, it cannot provide everything that a person needs to recover from a substance use disorder all by itself. However, when it is supplemented with group counseling, clients can benefit greatly.
Group counseling is usually led by one or more counselors, depending on the size of the group. Individuals who are receiving treatment come together for group counseling sessions to focus on commonly shared topics. A client can participate in group counseling for as long as recommended, as continuing to engage in these sessions only helps to improve his or her well-being.
In a group counseling setting, clients have the opportunity to build a support system with others in the group, which can serve as their sounding board during their care. Everyone involved in the group gets to speak, listen, and engage in exercises that open them up to one another in an effort to promote healing.
The bond that can develop from this environment benefits clients significantly, as it encourages accountability and honesty between the members—two qualities that are vital to successful recovery.
As Irvin D. Yalom, M.D., wrote in The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy, “The multiplicity of forms is so evident today that it is best not to speak of group therapy but of the many group therapies.”
The Importance of Counseling
Anyone can stop the physical act of using drugs or alcohol, but in order to sustain that cessation, more work must be put in.
Without counseling, those looking to recover from a substance use disorder face extreme difficulties in maintaining their sobriety and could find themselves using again. Counseling is important in treating substance use disorders, since it helps clients to:
- Identify and address underlying causes of the substance use disorder
- Learn how to manage challenges and adversity
- Develop coping skills that encourage long-term recovery
- Connect to additional resources that can assist in treating more specialized needs
- Establish relapse prevention skills
The more that clients put in to their counseling, the more they will get out of it. Taking the time to devote oneself to counseling can be the difference between life and death, especially for those struggling with a substance use disorder.
Get Help Today
You do not need to allow your substance use disorder to continue. We at JourneyPure in Ft. Walton can help you get moving on the road to recovery. So, do not wait any longer. Contact us right now to get the help you deserve.
Michelle Rosenker is a content writer for JourneyPure where she gets to exercise her journalistic skills by working with different addiction treatment centers nationwide. She has 10 years of experience in the field of addiction treatment and mental health and has written content for some of the country’s most prominent treatment centers and behavioral hospitals. Through her writing, Michelle is proud to continually raise awareness about the disease of addiction and share hope for the future. She lives next to the ocean in Massachusetts with her husband, two young children, and faithful dog.