What is Individual Therapy and Why Is It Good for Me?


It’s not uncommon for a person to be prescribed individual therapy as part of a treatment regimen. If this has happened to you, you may be wondering “what is individual therapy?” or “how do I know it will help me?”

In this article we’ll uncover exactly what people say when they’re talking about individual therapy, how it can benefit you and how to thrive in therapy.

What is individual therapy?

Individual therapy is one-on-one treatment for mental health disorders. It is often called psychotherapy, or talk therapy. This form of treatment uses conversations as the main mode of healing. 

There are many avenues that individual therapy can take, and it’s likely you’ll explore several of them. Individual therapy can include discussing childhood experiences and unloading trauma. Therapy often explores current self-perceptions and negative thinking patterns. It can also include goal planning and making functional improvements in daily life.

Individual therapy includes a wide scope of topics and practices, and they’re always led by a trained professional. Counselors, social workers and therapists all provide therapy with the aim of improving your own emotional well-being and quality of life.

Goals for individual therapy

Just like any other form of treatment, there is always an end goal to therapy. The primary goal is improved functioning and decreased symptomality. What does this mean? It means your goals for individual therapy are aimed at decreasing the impact of a mental illness on your life. 

This overarching goal will be broken down into several goals, and further into objectives which are concrete action steps towards those goals. For example, if you struggle with social anxiety, your overarching goal is to be able to manage social settings comfortably. Goals and objectives in your treatment plan may include the following.

  • Goal: By next year, I will no longer avoid social settings because I am worried what other people will think of me.
    • Objective 1: In the next month, I will grow to understand that others are not as cynical of me as I am of myself by journaling affirmations before and after each social outing.
    • Objective 2: In the next three months, I will attend a new event every week, making conversation with at least one stranger to practice confident communication skills.
    • Objective 3: In the next six months, I will initiate at least one short conversation each new place I go and use a calming strategy when it makes me nervous.

If this example goal feels overwhelming, don’t fret— this isn’t your treatment plan. In order for goals for individual therapy to be effective, they need to be catered to your needs and meet you where you are currently at. 

Only by collaborating with a professional who knows your situation can you determine the best goals for you.

Benefits of individual therapy

Individual therapy is fraught with benefits. While group therapy and other formats can be effective also, one-on-one settings offer more personalized intervention. Here are some of the best perks.

The reciprocal relationship

According to the journal Psychotherapy, the personal and two-way relationship between the therapist and the client is the key to overcoming mental health disorders. In fact, the study states that the most effective curative component of therapy is this dynamic

Working one-on-one with a therapist is healing that is backed by research. Perhaps the best of all the benefits of individual therapy is the profound effect it has on mental wellness.

Personal growth

Therapy is designed to help you be in control of mental illness, but it can also help you in all areas of life. Individual therapy encourages growth in self-awareness, communication, setting boundaries, emotional intelligence and so much more.

Decrease stress

When you engage in professional therapy, you’ll learn skills that spill over into your daily struggles. In therapy you’ll learn coping skills and emotional management so when hard things happen, you’ll know how to bear through them without causing yourself additional pain.

A happier life

Most people seek out therapy because a mental health condition is interfering with their happiness and life satisfaction. When you use therapy to process your own pain, experiences and emotions, you’ll find you’re able to move on from the past and heal your own wounds.

Individual therapy can lead you to feeling happier than you’ve felt in a long time, maybe ever. It’s not an overnight transformation, but commitment to this form of treatment will have a huge impact on your life when you put in the time and the work.

Thriving in therapy

Starting individual therapy may feel scary at first, but soon enough you’ll feel comfortable getting the help you deserve. Before you know it, you’ll be thriving in the new life you’ve created for yourself. Fall in love with life again and take full advantage of the healing at your fingertips. 

If a mental health condition or emotional distress is holding you back from the life you want to live, The Light Program can make a difference. At the Light Program, you’ll have access to top-notch care in a variety of program options. Get help and schedule an appointment now.