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Individual therapy refers to therapy sessions with one client and one therapist. Individual sessions with a therapist average about 45 minutes to one hour long. An alternative to group therapy, individual therapy is offered in many different types or branches of psychology. Psychology is the science of understanding human behavior, thought, emotion and perception. Therapy strives to help people better understand themselves and their problems in order to cope with the demands of their daily lives.
Cognitive behavioral therapy examines thoughts, feelings and behaviors and the relationships and patterns between them. In individual cognitive behavioral therapy, the therapist works with the client to set goals for coping with problems in the client's life. This may involve replacing negative thought patterns with positive ones or the goal may be steps to take to face a specific fear, such as flying in an airplane.
Psychodynamic or psychoanalytic therapies strive for personal growth through insight into the subconscious as well as the conscious mind. The therapist uses techniques such as word association to help reveal feelings and wishes that may add insight into the client's actions and conscious thoughts. Since the focus in this type of therapy is on the mind and inner workings of the individual, psychoanalytic therapies are traditionally and typically done on an individual rather than group therapy basis.
Whereas in group therapies the clients listen to others' problems and breakthroughs, people in individual therapy are focused only on their own situation. Both types of therapy may be helpful to patients, depending on their problem as well as their therapeutic preference. Personal growth can be an outcome of both individual and group therapy.
In some group therapy cases, hearing about the experiences of others who are experiencing a similar problem can provide helpful insight that allows a therapy client to think about his or her own experiences in a different way. Yet, individual therapy may be more beneficial for a client who is likely to be distracted from focusing on changing his or her own behavior to create a healthier and more peaceful situation in his or her life. The decision to choose either individual therapy or group therapy is an important one that should be made carefully.
A combination of both techniques may be best for a therapy client. A good thing for therapy clients to keep in mind before making appointments with individual or group therapists is that group sessions may not be as flexible in their session times. Work, school and other schedules of the whole group must be taken into consideration.