The Benefits of One-on-One Therapy

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Medically reviewed by Neal Swartz

a woman holding her hands on her chest during a One on one therapy session at REACH Ohio

Every year, more and more Americans are seeing a therapist for their mental health, with approximately 60 million American adults currently receiving therapy each year

By far one of the most common and popular types of therapy is one-on-one therapy, largely thanks to its completely personalized and customizable nature, which makes it an effective way of treating the widest range of mental health concerns and other life stressors. 
So let’s dive into exactly what one-on-one therapy is, who it can help, and how you can expect to benefit from individual therapy.

​​What is one-on-one therapy?

Exactly as the name suggests, one-on-one (or “individual”) therapy – also known as talk therapy, psychotherapy, or counseling – is when a client and therapist meet on a one-to-one basis. 

This is in contrast to group therapy, couples therapy, or family therapy, which all involve at least two or more people meeting with the therapist at the same time. 

In one-on-one therapy, you and your therapist meet regularly, either in person or via teletherapy, in order to work through a variety of challenges or issues you may be facing in your life, such as mental health conditions, stress, bereavement, or all kinds of other life-related stressors. 

The main goal of individual psychotherapy is to increase your understanding of your own thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors, and how they are all interrelated and impacting each other. Therapists use a range of different approaches to first guide you through this exploration, and then help you learn how to effectively manage and/or change negative thought and behavior patterns. 

How is individual therapy different from other types of therapy?

Individual therapy focuses solely and completely on you. 

This doesn’t mean you won’t talk about other people in your life or your relationships. But the focus is on exploring your thoughts, behaviors, beliefs, and past experiences to understand why and how you think and act the way you do, and how this may shape your actions and your relationships.

Group, family, or couples therapy, on the other hand, is usually focused on specific issues or points of conflict. These types of therapy can be very helpful to work through such issues, as it allows all parties to express their perspectives at the same time, with the therapist able to provide a more neutral perspective. 

However, people experiencing relationship or family problems often benefit from individual therapy in addition to family or couples therapy, as the individual sessions are where they have the opportunity to dig deeper into their own psyche to understand why they think or react the way they do.

Benefits of individual therapy

While all types of therapy are equally beneficial in their own right, one-on-one therapy is the most personalized and comprehensive on an individual level.  

Here’s an explanation of each of the many benefits of individual psychotherapy: 

  • Personalized, customized therapy: Individual therapy is focused 100% on you and your specific concerns and goals, and your therapist will customize your treatment accordingly. Most people have multiple (often interrelated) concerns, and one-to-one therapy means you can explore all of them at a deeper and more comprehensive level, with your therapist adapting their treatment and adopting different approaches as you progress. 
  • Undivided attention: In one-on-one sessions you have your therapist’s undivided attention, which makes it much easier for most people to open up, explore topics at a deeper level, and develop a strong bond with their therapist. 
  • Safe, supportive, non-judgmental space: The relationship you develop with your therapist will be one of comfort, trust, and support, but within a professional and private setting. This allows you to be 100% honest and open without fear or embarrassment, while receiving expert guidance, emotional support, and actionable help in return.
  • Confidentiality and privacy: There are often things we find difficult to talk about in front of others, but individual therapy provides the highest level of privacy as sessions are completely private between you and your therapist, and all therapists are bound by a code of ethics that ensures total confidentiality.  
  • Move at your own pace: There are no “rules” as to how long you have therapy for. With individual therapy you can move at your own pace, with no need to worry about moving too slowly or too fast. 
  • Flexible scheduling: As it’s only you and your therapist, you don’t have to plan around others’ schedules, and can arrange sessions as and when convenient to you. 
  • New, fresh, and unbiased perspective: Although well-meaning, friends and family tend to give advice or perspectives based on their own experiences. Therapists are trained not to, and can help you see things from a completely unbiased, scientific, and evidence-based perspective that can be very enlightening.  
  • Uncover root causes you may not have been aware of: Because one-on-one therapy is so personalized and allows us to dig deeper, it helps identify and address underlying issues that we often weren’t aware of, which have been contributing to our current challenges. 
  • Develop coping skills and strategies: A core part of therapy is learning tools and techniques for managing life’s challenges more effectively, and individual therapy allows your therapist to ensure these are perfectly tailored to your unique needs and personality.
  • Helps improve your relationships with others: Whether family, friends, colleagues, or otherwise, when you understand yourself better, it will positively impact the way you interact with others.
  • Personal growth and self-discovery: Individual therapy allows you to gain a deeper understanding of yourself, your values, and your goals, which leads to greater self-awareness in all aspects of your life. As you work through specific challenges and obstacles you’ll also uncover your resilience and strengths, which is very empowering.
  • Emotional support: Life can be overwhelming and very challenging at times, and having a reliable source of support who is not only there for you and able to offer empathy, understanding, and validation, but is also professionally trained to help you productively work through your problems, cannot be underestimated.

Ways to make the most of your one-on-one therapy

For therapy to be successful, it needs to be a collaborative process, which means it requires your active participation and commitment to fully reap all its benefits. 

Here are some suggestions for how to make the most of your individual therapy sessions: 

  • Be open, honest, and willing to explore complex topics: This is essential for getting the most out of your therapy, and remember, it is a completely safe, confidential, and judgment-free space. 
  • Participate actively: Make an effort to always do any “homework” or suggestions your therapist makes, and be open to trying new strategies. 
  • Stick to your treatment plan: Be consistent in attending your sessions, and trust in your therapist.
  • Give yourself time: It’s normal to feel emotional or overwhelmed at times during therapy. Allow yourself to feel however you feel, and take the time to process your feelings. Remember, there is no rush and you can move at your own speed with individual therapy. 

Ask questions: Don’t ever be afraid to ask your therapist questions or tell them any concerns you have about the therapy itself. They are there to support you, and it’s vital you feel completely comfortable and understand your therapeutic journey.

The different types of individual psychotherapy

Therapy encompasses a wide variety of different specialisms and approaches, and individual therapy is no different. 

As explained in our blog post Psychotherapy vs. Therapy: What’s the Difference?, there are a variety of different professionals who can provide therapy, as well as numerous different styles of talk therapy that involve different techniques and frameworks. 

The type of therapist and therapeutic approaches most suitable for you will depend on your unique needs, and the therapist or practice you inquire with can give you guidance on this. 

At REACH, because we have a wide variety of professionals with different specialisms within our team – including psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, and more – we are able to provide individual psychotherapy and counseling for all types of mental health and well-being concerns. After listening to your situation or problems, our trained intake specialists will recommend the best REACH therapist for your specific needs

What problems can one-on-one therapy help with?

Many people still think of therapy as being specifically for treating mental health concerns. But the reality is that everyone can benefit from therapy, especially one-on-one therapy. 

One-on-one therapy can help with: 

  • All kinds of mental health concerns, including: anxiety, depression, trauma, bipolar disorder, paranoia, eating disorders, behavioral and emotional disorders, and more. 
  • Life challenges, such as: major life transitions, grief, divorce, crisis, stress, addictions and substance abuse, and more. 
  • And it also serves as a platform for: self-discovery, building life-long resilience and coping mechanisms, and receiving emotional support. 

In short, individual therapy can be beneficial to every single person in achieving some form of improved mental and emotional well-being. 

How to get started with individual therapy

Speaking with your primary healthcare provider is often a good starting point, as they will be able to refer you to an appropriate therapist for your needs. You can also check with your insurance provider to see who is covered by your plan. 

If you’ve had personal recommendations or found a therapist you like the look of by another means, you can also contact them directly to find out if, and how, they can help. 

It’s important to ensure that any therapist you work with is properly qualified and has the necessary credentials to provide the type of care that you need. It’s also vital that you feel comfortable with the therapist you choose – this is critical to the success of your treatment. Sometimes it can take a few tries to find the “perfect” therapist, so don’t be afraid to change if you start with a therapist and don’t feel they are the right fit. 

At REACH Behavioral Health Ohio, we have a large clinical team of therapists, counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists available at our centers across Cleveland, or via our teletherapy services. This means that we have the right specialists for every individual’s unique needs.  

If you’re a resident of Ohio, get in touch to arrange a free consultation with our intake specialists, who will be able to explain more about the therapy we can provide and recommend the best options and therapists for you. 

We know that starting out on a therapy journey can feel intimidating, but it is a courageous and powerful step towards taking control of your mental health and well-being, and we will be here to support you throughout your journey. 

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