top of page
  • Foto del escritorjacqueline loweree

Individual Therapy or Support Groups? How to Choose the Right Fit for You

Long ago, during the early dawn of my diagnosis, I thought I could do it all. I became committed to fighting this problem head on through any means possible.

Bipolar was not going to rule over me, I was going to tell bipolar who was the boss.

So aside from developing a personal treatment regiment, I wanted to exhaust my professional options, too. So I sought the help from a therapist, psychiatrists, and support groups. I did this for about … two weeks. And I quit. All of this therapy was exhausting and mentally overwhelming. Every other day I was reminded that I was sick and that I had to have problems to talk about during these sessions.

The thing is sometimes we don’t feel like talking because we can’t process what we are feeling. And sometimes well, we don’t have problems. Fabricating problems for the sake of having a conversation topic during my sessions was not how I wanted to take charge of my treatment. It was then suggested that I alternate between my individual sessions and my group. But I quickly burnt out of that as well.

So I made a decision – I had to choose between my individual weekly therapies or my support group. But for my sanity I could not attend both.

In the end, I chose … drum roll … the support group.

My reasons for preferring a support group are vast but I don’t want to influence your decision-making if this is something you are currently considering. Instead, I will share important points regarding the advantages and disadvantages of each type of therapy so that you can weigh your options more objectively.

Note: If you are considering or are currently on a medication plan, you need to maintain regular check-ins with your medical provider. This is a non-negotiable.

Individual Therapy

How does it work?

You meet one-on-one with a mental health provider (e.g., therapist, psychologist, social worker) on the regular basis for about an hour.

What does the session look like?

You have a conversation with your provider regarding your progress on past sessions, talk about your weekly troubles, work through traumas, plan and strategize a wellness action plan.

What is the cost?

It depends on the insurance you have and on the city you live in. It is common for some professionals in private practice to not accept insurance so the cost is out-of-pocket.

In Washington, DC, it was common to see sessions run anywhere between $150 to $250 the hour.

Call your insurance to see which providers they work with. Call the provider directly to inquire about their rates and their copay.

What are the pros?

  • More time for yourself

  • A deeper dive into your traumas

  • Personalized coaching strategies

  • No fear of speaking in public

  • Provider keeps notes on the sessions

  • Progress can be measured with greater ease

  • Intimacy

  • Greater availability in most regions

What are the cons?

  • You feel forced to talk

  • One perspective

  • You feel observed, judged, because your provider isn’t a peer

  • Can be expensive

  • Is more work

  • You get charged if you miss a session without enough advanced notice

Group Therapy

How does it work?

You meet with a group of like-minded individuals that is either peer-led (a mental health professional is not present) or professionally led (a mental health professional is present) on the regular basis for about one to three hours.

What does the session look like?

You introduce yourself and your diagnosis and get a shared portion of time (depending on how long the session lasts and the number of people involved) to talk about your week, your current troubles, your medication regiment, and to strategize. The remainder of time you get to listen to other people share their stories and once they are done, you may provide feedback. Talking is not required.

What is the cost?

It depends on the type of group it is. Usually if it is led by a mental health provider, there will be a cost which will vary on your insurance and city. If it is peer-led, it’s usually free of charge. They may ask for a small donation to cover the space.

My support group in Washington, DC was free (with a small donation).

Check out the groups offered by the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. They run regional chapters so you may get lucky.

What are the pros?

  • Connection with others like you

  • Community and friendships

  • Various points of view provide you feedback

  • You learn how others cope with their illness

  • It’s fun

  • You don’t have to talk

  • May be free to attend

What are the cons?

  • You get lost in the crowd

  • The conversations can be impressionable and triggering

  • Others may project their mood on you

  • Feeling of incompetence for not being able to help everyone

  • Peer pressure

  • Not as widely available in all regions

So there you have it, some food for thought. My experiences, however, will vary from yours so please consider wisely. But whatever you decide on, remember that you always have agency. You can attend the sessions you want, when you need to, and as often as you see fit. I have been to groups that penalized you for arriving a few minutes late and didn’t let you use the restroom the whole two hours there. I obviously did not continue those.

In matters of your mental health, you have a voice and a vote. And if you feel this taken away from you anytime, you have every right to walk away.


Follow me on Instagram @jackie_loweree for updates, links to the blog, inspirational quotes, pretty pictures, and more.

The Ins and Outs of OWN IT: A Blog on How to Show Bipolar Who's the Boss

  • A blog for people with mental illness written by an unstable, unpredictable, and uninhibited woman diagnosed with bipolar disorder

  • Covers all topics including relationships, coping mechanisms, entertainment, and everyday resources

  • Updated and shared twice a month, news and updates available on Instagram @jackie_loweree, and if you don't have an Instagram, no problem, just check my site - all posts will be here

Disclaimer: OWN IT is a first-hand account of bipolar disorder designed to orient those diagnosed with mental illness. It by no means intends to offer medical advice. If you are diagnosed with an illness, or think you may suffer from one, please seek professional help. Otherwise, take my words lightly and have fun reading!

0 comentarios

Entradas Recientes

Ver todo


bottom of page