After the initial assessment of a patient’s needs, a mental health professional will design a personalised treatment plan for the patient. This plan can then be executed during various types of therapy sessions, including the following:

Group sessions: In this setting a number of patients with similar disorders meet, discuss and share their problems and solutions with each other.

Family therapy: The patient and one or more family members attend a session in the presence of a therapist, in order to address issues peculiar to the family’s particular situation.

One-on-one counselling: A therapy session involving a meeting between a single patient and a single therapist, without any other person being present during the meeting.

The Purpose of Individual Counselling

The purpose of a one-on-one counselling session (also known as individual counselling) is to create an opportunity where a therapist and a patient can deal with issues related to a disorder, in a private, confidential setting. Every individual is unique and one-on-one therapy sessions offer specific advantages, including:

  • The patient is ensured of more confidentiality than in a group.
  • The patient receives the full and undivided attention of the therapist.
  • The patient does not have to listen to irrelevant issues of other patients.
  • It is easier to explore personal issues and to develop individual solutions.
  • It is more suitable than a group setting for patients who are introverted or shy.
  • Groups allow “lazy” patients to fade into the background and avoid accountability.
  • The patient may find it easier to disclose information that might be embarrassing.
  • Appointments can be arranged for a time that is most convenient for both parties.
  • Therapy sessions can be paced according to the needs and capacity of the patient.
  • Therapists can more easily spot co-occurring disorders due to the intimacy involved.
  • It allows for the formation of a trusting relationship between counselor and patient.
  • The client is able to be themselves, with the benefit of not being judged by others.
  • Therapy sessions can be arranged at short notice, as there are no other parties involved.

The Therapeutic Alliance

The “therapeutic alliance”, which is the working relationship between therapists and patients, is stronger in individual counselling. Research has consistently shown that this is a vital component of successful therapeutic intervention.