Group Therapy Vs. Individual Therapy

For some people losing a loved one might be the first time they engage in therapy; other life challenges might have instead been addressed through the support of friends and other internal resources.

However, losing a loved one can be so painful and difficult it maxes out our ability to cope on our own. There is no right or wrong way to grieve after a significant loss. In fact, the way we mourn depends on many different factors such as our personalities, the nature of the relationship we had with the deceased, and the cause and circumstances of the death.  The grief experience is also affected by cultural and religious background, coping skills, mental health history, and the quality of social supports.

Most importantly, our experience of loss is as unique as we are.

The question is, what type of therapy is right for you?

The Support of Group Therapy Vs. Individual Therapy

Group Therapy


In Group Therapy, participants learn about the grieving process and help themselves and others form a bridge to the future. Mourning is most ideal when it is expanded into a social experience.  Group participation provides an opportunity for social support from other bereaved individuals who can relate to the struggles of loss. Group therapy helps persons who have suffered the loss of a significant relationship: parent, sibling, spouse, child, or other close relative or friend.

All of our groups are led by professionals, and we do not offer self-help groups. Group therapy helps grievers experiment with trying to relate to people differently in a safe environment, with a therapist present to intervene and guide as needed. Additionally, group therapy allows you to learn from the experiences of others, and to better understand how people very different from yourself view the world and interact. Our Healing Our Losses group members share and agree to the values of privacy and confidentiality. Group participation requires patience, listening skills, constructively giving and receiving feedback, being on the occasional “hot seat,” and the ability to leave some issues unfinished, given time and other constraints of the group therapy process.

Although grief is a normal human experience, each person’s grief is subtly different. Our group therapy helps you understand your loss and express the many feelings that come with change. Let our group therapy process help you regain your balance as you learn to re-engage in life in a new way. The uniqueness of our group lies in the fact that it is led by a licensed therapist and focuses on therapeutic aspects of grief recovery. Thus the group experience goes beyond the helpful albeit limited results from receiving social support. The group leader(s) is responsible for creating a safe and consistent therapeutic environment.  To that end we require a face-to-face interview of all group candidates in advance of the group’s beginning.

Individual Therapy

In Individual Therapy, the dialogue is usually reflective of two experiences—the client’s and the therapist’s.  Individual therapy promotes a warm, open, flexible therapeutic relationship, which over time helps to develop new strengths and skills for living through and beyond loss.  Some clients may require time-intensive grief therapy that is focused exclusively on their individual needs.  Many aspects of grief and mourning are explored in the context of an open dialogue utilizing the seasoned experience of the therapist along with the client’s unique range and depth of responses.  In addition, other life issues often emerge in the dialogue as grief touches upon many other areas including relationships, work, and other historical issues. Thus the grief and life adjustment processes intertwine with the focal point of the therapy oscillating at times from one to the other.

Individual therapy is often indicated for people in crisis or who are experiencing some of the following: pre-existing mental health conditions, trauma, multiple stressors, or substance abuse issues, all of which often complicate the grieving process.

Finally, there may be instances—depending on the timing of group sessions—in which individual and group interventions can be appropriately used as a two-fold approach.  Individuals seeking their own treatment who also want to meet with peers in a group context (and visa versa) might find the therapies are effective as compliments to each other.  As always, the dialogue between therapist and client is the starting point for such recommendations.

For more information about seeking therapy please go to: Tips on finding A Grief Counselor.

The Center’s Therapist Profiles: Our therapists.