Learn / How Much Individual Treatment Do You Need in Rehab?

How Much Individual Treatment Do You Need in Rehab?

Kayla Gill
 February 28th, 2022|   Clinically Reviewed by 
Rajnandini Rathod

Recovery is an immensely personal journey, but it doesn’t have to be isolating. 1-on-1 treatment, otherwise known as individual therapy, offers the opportunity to build a unique and strong bond with your therapist or care provider. For many people, this personal connection facilitates healing in a powerful way.

Most luxury rehab programs include a balance of one-on-one treatment, group therapy and activities, and family therapy. The goals of each are different, so one isn’t necessarily better than the other. They all have the potential to powerfully impact your treatment experience.

A core component of one-on-one treatment is the additional focus your provider has on you, allowing both of you to explore your situation in depth. Many people find this beneficial, and it might even be necessary for certain patients. Some conditions, for example, require one-on-one attention. Or if you’re a high-profile person, you may need to remain anonymous throughout treatment, which makes attending groups a challenge.

Here, we’ll guide you through the different aspects of one-on-one treatment.

Understanding One-On-One Treatment

Individual vs. Group Therapy: What’s the Difference?

Individual treatment is delivered in a different setting than group treatment,1 which impacts the therapeutic experience. Each modality has its own set of goals and outcomes.

Individual Therapy

In individual treatment, you attend one-on-one sessions with your therapist, counselor, or care provider. This type of environment offers some unique takeaways:

  • You are the focal point. Your provider focuses solely on you, allowing them to gain a deeper understanding of different aspects of your life.
  • You can address a wide range of topics per session. Because it’s just you and your provider, you can work through issues that may be more unique to your situation, like employment status, legal matters, and more.
  • You can make adjustments to your program. In a group setting, you may not have the opportunity to address your individual treatment plan. 1-on-1 sessions give you the space to discuss the nature and structure of your recovery program. If certain things aren’t working for you, you can talk to your provider about changing them.
  • You have greater privacy. You can work through your issues in confidentiality, but without having to go through your healing process alone.
  • You can work at a pace that’s comfortable for you. Addiction treatment involves a lot of goal-setting and skill-building work. During individual sessions, you can go through these at your own pace.

Group Therapy

Group therapy usually involves 5 or more people. 1 person leads these sessions, though a co-leader may be involved in larger groups. While some treatment facilities may have groups of 15 people or more, many luxury rehabs have groups of around 6-8 people. Group settings offer a different dynamic from individual treatment:

  • The door opens for conversations to flow. Participants can jump in and offer feedback, creating opportunities to discover new insights.
  • You can focus on a topic that unites all participants. While conversation topics may fluctuate in individual treatment, group treatment often centers on a singular topic that involves all participants. For example, you may join a group that focuses on eating disorders or depression treatment.
  • Group treatment more closely resembles real-world situations. You’ll gain skills for being part of a community and speaking more openly with others.

What to Expect From a One-On-One Treatment Session

1. Getting to know you: Your first 1-on-1 treatment session may look different from the following ones. It’s an opportunity for you and your therapist to get to know one another. The relationship you build with your therapist is a fundamental aspect of individual treatment, so most therapists will use this chance to learn as much about you as possible. You can expect them to ask questions about your personal history, substance use history, needs, and goals. This is also a good time to address any questions or concerns you may have.

2. Laying out a treatment plan: Next, you’ll work on a treatment plan that’s suited toward your recovery goals. At centers that offer highly individualized care, like single-client rehabs, you have the option to be heavily involved in the planning process. For some people, taking such an active role in designing a treatment course might be overwhelming. If that’s the case, you can follow a predetermined plan laid out by your therapist. Once you’ve agreed to a treatment course, you’ll begin your sessions.

3. Open up in a private, safe environment: In an individual treatment session, you can discuss anything that comes up in private, without judgment. Your therapist will be there to guide you through challenging thoughts, behaviors, and feelings using various psychotherapy techniques. Goal setting and skill building are both key aspects of individual therapy. Skills you may learn include how to set healthy boundaries, or finding healthy ways to cope with emotional hardship. As you progress through your healing journey, you can expect your goals to change.

4. Doing the work outside of sessions: Your therapist will help guide you through your process. However, your readiness for change will influence what you get out of treatment. That is, the actual healing work falls on you. Oftentimes, this happens outside of therapy sessions. You’ll have time to reflect on your thoughts and behaviors while learning how to integrate lessons from therapy into your daily life. This process can help you glean further insight into your thoughts and feelings. Bringing this information into your next session allows you to dive deeper into the therapeutic process.

Common Types of Therapies Used in 1-on-1 Treatment

Most luxury rehab programs offer a mix of psychotherapy, otherwise known as talk therapy, and experiential therapy. This helps maintain a balance between the intensity of talk therapy and the immersiveness of embodied experiences.

There are many different styles of psychotherapies and therapeutic activities. You may even want to choose a program depending on which of these they have available.


Popular types of individual therapies include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

As one of the most common types of therapies available, a majority of rehab programs offer cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT is an evidence-based treatment based on the principle that psychological issues stem from our thoughts, learned patterns, and behavior. In CBT, your therapist will take you through methodical strategies for changing your thought process, along with homework to put what you learn into practice. CBT is proven to reduce symptoms of mental health conditions2 like depression and anxiety.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

DBT is a proven effective evidence-based treatment3 approach that incorporates mindfulness techniques with practical skills to help you tolerate and regulate your emotions. DBT draws from principles of Zen Buddhism and teaches you that your emotions are valid, however,you’re not your emotions. Your therapist will guide you through 4 distinct modules of DBT, often taken from the first or second edition of Dr. Linehan’s original DBT workbook:4 mindfulness, emotional regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, and distress tolerance. DBT is especially beneficial for people with certain diagnoses, including borderline personality disorder and PTSD.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and commitment therapy5 is an approach of behavioral therapy that focuses on mindfully accepting, rather than avoiding, unhelpful or challenging situations. The underlying thought behind ACT is that all of our feelings, even the difficult ones, are a necessary part of life. Your therapist will take you through techniques to help you accept your psychological experiences (acceptance). You’ll clarify your personal goals and values. From there, your therapist will teach you the skills to build psychological flexibility, so you have the tools to act in a way that’s in line with your values (commitment

Experiential Therapy

Popular one-on-one experiential therapies offered at luxury rehabs include animal-assisted therapy and different forms of physical movement.

Equine Therapy

Equine therapy involves working with horses to treat trauma and suffering from addiction. At some luxury rehabs, a health professional will work with you alone through a series of activities designed to achieve therapeutic goals. In this 1-on-1 environment, they can help you process any emotions that come up in the moment. Benefits of equine therapy6 include improved social connection and self-esteem, enhancing your trust levels, becoming more perceptive to the needs of others, and more.

Physical fitness

Several studies reveal that physical exercise improves mental health,7 so you’ll see many private rehab centers that include physical fitness in their program. Some centers offer sessions with a personal trainer, allowing you to explore your fitness needs in depth.

The team at Paracelsus Recovery in Switzerland strives to gain a comprehensive understanding of their clients’ needs when it comes to fitness.

“We start with an assessment process, looking at the client’s exercise history, what they’re doing, and whether they have injuries. We assess their relationship with fitness, whether they’ve been to a gym or have worked with a trainer before, and examine their current state of health. Then, we build the program around that. It’s really important for me to gauge their fitness levels and design the right type of exercises for it.”

– Rowland Tweedie, Health and Fitness Manager, Paracelsus Recovery

If you’re searching for mental health or addiction treatment, it’s a good idea to look for a program that blends individual and group therapy. This can target various aspects of your recovery for a more complete healing journey.

Explore Individual Treatment Treatment Centers

Is Individual or Group Therapy More Beneficial?

Because everyone’s recovery journey is so unique, most rehab centers offer a number of healing modalities to accommodate different needs. This includes both individual and group therapy. Each has different goals, and both can be valuable to your healing journey. Some clients find that a blend of the 2 modalities is a good way to gain the benefits of both.

Benefits of Individual Therapy

1. The focus is on you: In individual therapy, all the focus is on you: conversations with your therapist are tailored to your story. Your therapist will try to gain a more in-depth understanding about different aspects of your life. This type of individualized attention can help you unpack very specific issues.

2. You can form stronger bonds with your therapist: The relationship between a patient and their therapist may be stronger in individual treatment,8 which has shown to result in lower drop-out rates.

3. Individual therapy may be more effective in the short term: A meta-analysis comparing individual versus group therapy in the treatment of adults with depression showed that individual therapy can be more effective9 than group therapy in the short term. There may be higher risk factors for drop out in group therapy10 due to challenges in compiling the right group. However, findings at this stage shouldn’t discourage people who may truly benefit from group therapy.

4. Your therapist can meet you where you’re at: Not everyone is at the same stage of readiness for change in their recovery journey. With individual treatment, your therapist can meet you where you are, and you can work on your issues at a pace that matches your situation.

5. You can open up in greater privacy: In individual treatment, it’s just you and your therapist. You’re working through your issues in complete confidentiality. For some clientele, like high-profile people, this level of privacy is a requirement.

6. Certain clientele require 1-on-1 focus: Some demographics have a unique set of needs for recovery, and certain conditions require more 1-on-1 attention. Someone with a dual diagnosis may need more individualized sessions with their psychiatrist, for example. Meanwhile, people with severe social anxiety may not be able to open up in group settings.

Benefits of Group Therapy

1. You have a support network: Many people who face mental health or substance use disorders feel isolated in their struggles. Speaking about it in a group setting can help you realize you’re not alone.

2. You can gain new perspectives: Group settings allow for dynamic conversations to occur. Other people in your group may offer feedback that helps you realize aspects of your healing you weren’t previously aware of.

3. Empowerment through support: An important aspect of group therapy is the peer support it offers. You may feel empowered to support others in their healing journey, and this can inspire your own.

4. Diversity of opinions: You can hear from diverse voices in a group setting. Seeing how different people work through their struggles may offer inspiration.

5. You can open up in a social setting: In group therapy, you have the opportunity to speak about topics you may not otherwise bring up in your normal social circles. Some people find it therapeutic to open up to others, and this teaches valuable social skills that you can carry into life outside of rehab.

How Many Clinical Hours Do Rehabs Actually Offer?

Inpatient programs at psychiatric or general hospitals11 offer an average of 4.2 hours per week of contact with medical professionals and 2.5 hours of contact with nonmedical professionals.

Good-quality private residential rehabs offer even more hours with a well-rounded clinical team. Luxury programs tend to provide 2 or more individual sessions a week.

For example, at McLean Fernside in Princeton, Massachusetts, “patients have the opportunity to meet with psychiatry 5 days a week and may meet with a case manager 3 times a week,” according to Quinn Tremblay, Admissions Coordinator.

More clinical hours with a therapist means you can address important emotions and needs as they come up. Your therapist has more time to learn about you, allowing you both to explore your situation thoroughly.

How Much 1-on-1 Treatment Do You Actually Need?

The length and duration of 1-on-1 treatment sessions you need will depend on your situation.

Usually, therapy sessions are 1 hour or more. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), “on average 15 to 20 sessions are required for 50 percent of patients to recover12 as indicated by self-reported symptom measures.”

Some conditions may require more treatment hours than others. If you have a dual diagnosis, where substance use co-occurs with another mental health disorder, you’ll find value in specialized care. The APA suggests that longer treatment programs for co-occurring conditions can result in more effective outcomes.13 They recommend around 60 sessions for 12 to 18 months.

Individual Treatment Lets You Dive Deeper Into Your Healing Process

1-on-1 treatment allows you to build more rapport with your therapist or care provider, which can aid recovery in powerful ways. Strong therapeutic relationships are a cornerstone of successful treatment. As you spend more 1-on-1 time with your therapist, you may find yourself more comfortable opening up about intimate aspects of your life. And in 1-on-1 settings, your healthcare provider is dedicated to offering care for your distinct situation.

It’s important to remember that other modalities, like group therapy and family therapy, also provide benefits that you may not be able to get from 1-on-1 treatment. Unless you need to attend a single-client program, most rehab centers offer a balance of group therapy and individual treatment for well-rounded care.

That being said, your circumstances and rehab program requirements are unique–not everyone is comfortable opening up in group therapy, and this can hinder the recovery process.

If you’re looking for the additional focus that individual treatment provides, browse our list of rehabs that offer 1-on-1 treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions About Individual Treatment in Rehab

What is individual therapy in rehab?

Individual therapy in rehab refers to one-on-one sessions with a trained therapist. It provides personalized attention. This lets individuals explore their unique challenges, develop coping skills, and work towards recovery goals in a private and supportive environment.

How does individual therapy help in rehab?

Individual therapy in rehab offers numerous benefits:

• Explore personal issues in a focused environment
• Address any co-occurring mental health conditions
• Identify underlying causes of addiction
• Gain individualized strategies for long-term recovery 
• Promotes self-reflection and emotional healing

What can I expect during individual therapy in rehab?

During individual therapy in rehab, you can expect a safe space to discuss your experiences, emotions, and concerns. Your therapist will guide the sessions and tailor them to your needs. Expect collaborative goal-setting, skill-building exercises, and ongoing support to help you navigate challenges and work toward sustainable recovery.

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