Individual Teen Therapy vs. Group Therapy for Teens

Feeling confused when choosing between individual teen therapy VS group therapy for teens is common and understandable. This confusion can arise because of the following reasons:

  • You are not sure your teen will do better talking alone with a therapist or in a group with other teens.
  • You don’t know much about what each kind of therapy is like
  • You might be unsure which type of therapy will most help with the teenager’s specific mental or behavioral problems.
  • You are confused about the different advice from people or online.
  • Things like how much therapy costs and how far you have to travel for sessions can also make it hard to decide.
  • You want the best for your teen. You want them to be healthy and happy. Caring a lot can also make this decision complicated as you feel unsure.

To make it easier for you, Rocky Trombetti, MA, AMFT, an individual and family therapist at California’s trusted Teen Residential treatment center, Key Healthcare, helps us understand individual and group therapy for teens. He states that individual therapy involves a one-on-one interaction between the therapist and your teenager, allowing your teen to open up and helping the therapist tailor treatments to the teenager’s specific needs. This therapy provides privacy, confidentiality, and a focused exploration of personal issues. Whereas group therapy involves one or more therapists leading a group of teenagers to discuss and explore their thoughts and mental health concerns in a supportive environment. Group therapy allows teenagers to feel normal about their behavior, encourages them to engage with other teens, and gives mutual support and feedback. This type of therapy helps teenagers develop empathy and social interaction skills. It is also typically cost-effective and is effective in addressing specific issues such as anger management or substance abuse.

Let’s read what more he has to say about Individual Teen Therapy vs. Group Therapy for Teens. Remember, you can always change to a different type of therapy later if the first choice doesn’t work out.

What are Individual and Group Therapies?

More teenagers are struggling with mental health concerns, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Reports establish that an estimated 14% of young people aged between 10 – 19 suffer from mental health conditions. Individual and group therapy offers effective treatment options for teen mental health issues using different modalities.

Attempting to define individual therapy and group therapy is generally tricky, but the specific characteristics of both types of therapy can be useful in their definitions:

Individual therapy

Individual Therapy for teens is a type of psychotherapy where a therapist works one-on-one counseling sessions with a teenager in a private and confidential environment. During the therapy sessions, teenagers enjoy a personalized form of attention inclusive of the therapist’s listening ears and treatments tailored to their needs. It is a great approach for addressing various mental health concerns, such as teen depression and suicidal thoughts, that require a deep exploration of the teenager’s thoughts and emotions.

Group Therapy

Teen Group therapy involves at least one therapist leading a group of teenagers to discuss their thoughts and feelings in a joint and supportive environment. This type of therapy creates peer support and an opportunity to learn from others facing similar issues. Group therapies offer teenagers a sense of community and help them build social skills. However, group therapies are usually less personalized and cannot be used to address each teenager’s specific mental health concerns.

The core differences between individual and group therapies are:

  • The confidentiality level of group therapies is lesser compared to individual therapies.
  • The typical cost of an individual therapy session is higher than that of group therapy.
  • The focus of a therapist is directed to a teenager during individual therapy sessions, while the therapist’s attention is shared in a group session.

Why Choose One Over the Other?

Choosing between individual and group therapies for your teenager will be dependent on several factors, including the level of comfort a teenager has with sharing a mental health issue, personal preferences, affordability, and a therapist’s recommendation.

The effectiveness of teen therapies depends on how well they align with a teenager’s unique therapy needs, goals, and preferences. Individual therapy is the most preferred for highly personal and sensitive mental health issues because it offers privacy and a tailored approach to a teenager’s needs. Comparatively, group therapy is more effective for less sensitive concerns, providing a sense of community and shared experiences.

The goal of either therapy form is to provide teenagers with the most effective support they need to address their mental health challenges. Here are a few examples where either of both therapies may be preferred:

  • Judith A Cohen, MD and Professor of Psychiatry at Drexel University College of Medicine, recently updated that teenagers suffering from PTSD may benefit from an individual therapy session than they would in a group therapy session.
  • Teenagers having relationship difficulties will function better in a group therapy session than they would in an individual group session.

Findings show that the choice of either of these therapy types is not exclusive, but they can work hand-in-hand, where individual therapy can be the place to talk deeper about issues first discussed at a group therapy session.

How Do Teen Therapies Work?

The working process of either individual or group therapies differs considerably from each other. You can learn how these therapies work here:

Individual Therapy

The processes for individual therapy include the following:

  • It starts with an initial assessment to understand the teenager’s needs and jointly establish therapeutic goals between the therapist and the teenager. 
  • Regular therapy sessions lasting between 45 and 60 minutes start. Here, the teenager and therapist employ various therapeutic techniques, including Teen cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), Teen DBT, and more.
  • Constant evaluations are taken during therapy sessions to determine the progress the teenager is making with a particular mental health issue.
  • The last stage is the termination of consultations, after which an after-care plan is implemented to prevent a relapse.

In an individual session, the therapist strives to put themselves in a trusting position with the teenager for the best results.

Group Therapy

The processes for group therapy include the following:

  • Group therapy sessions begin with an assessment and orientation session where the therapist explains the purpose and rules of the group. 
  • The group is carefully formed with a small number of participants, and regular sessions focus on specific themes or topics relevant to the teenagers’ concerns, such as anxiety, self-esteem, or anger management. 
  • Participants share their thoughts and experiences, offering support and insights to one another. 
  • Skill-building exercises and homework assignments help teens develop coping strategies and emotional regulation skills.

The therapist provides guidance, feedback, and interventions to address individual and group dynamics, monitoring each participant’s progress toward their goals.

Individual Teen Therapy vs Group Therapy, Which is Better Suited For Your Teen?

Individual therapy is most suitable for teenagers dealing with severe mental health conditions. According to VeryWellMind, individual therapies are great for teenagers who are in a mental health crisis and have suicidal thoughts. According to our licenced therapist, the following will be more suited for individual therapies:

  • Severe Mental Health Conditions: Conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorders in teen, and severe depression will benefit more from individual therapy.
  • Specific Trauma or PTSD: Teenagers who have experienced traumatic events, such as sexual assault, physical abuse, or combat trauma, are more suited for individual therapy.
  • Highly Personal or Sensitive Concerns: Teenagers struggling with highly personal issues like sexuality, gender identity, or family issues often appreciate individual therapy for the privacy and confidentiality it offers.

Group therapy is more beneficial for teenagers who have been identified to be facing common issues such as substance abuse or social anxiety issues that require less privacy and more support. Some of the cases that will benefit from group therapy include:

  • Community Needs: Group therapy is particularly effective for teenagers dealing with self-esteem and social interaction issues.
  • Addiction and Griefing Support: Teenagers struggling with substance abuse and grief might find solace in interacting with others struggling with different levels of addiction and grief.

Where to Find These Therapies

You can find individual and group therapists via mental health clinics, private practice therapists, healthcare agencies, and educational institutions. Searching for therapists near you can also provide suggestions to review subsequently.

While seeking these services, it’s crucial to consider factors such as specialization, location, availability, and payment options. You can also factor in personal recommendations from former clients, friends, and healthcare professionals. Reviewing whatever therapists or groups fit your teenager’s needs and preferences will ensure the delivery of the most effective and suitable mental health support needed.

Key Healthcare specializes in aiding adolescents with addiction. We offer top-tier, personalized care with teen individual therapy, other holistic therapies, trauma care, mental health support, and medication-assisted treatment. Our therapist approach is unique, focusing on the core issues teens face to ensure sustainable recovery. Our rehab center has comfortable accommodations and a compassionate staff dedicated to the well-being of its residents.


Individual therapy emphasizes privacy, singular-person focus, and confidentiality, while group therapy emphasizes peer support and a sense of community. Choosing between individual and group therapy should consider the teenager’s needs and comfort levels with the guidance of a mental health professional. 

Some teenagers may benefit from a combination of individual and group therapy to effectively address a range of needs. If taken progressively, group therapies can lead to individual therapy sessions. Whichever therapy is being employed must be done with the help of a qualified therapist.