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Which Type of Counselling is Right for You?

The first step on your journey towards positive mental health begins with deciding which path to take. Among the many therapy options available to you, the most common formats are:

  • Individual counselling
  • Couples & family counselling
  • Group counselling
  • Intensive outpatient program
  • Inpatient program

For the most part, choosing which of these types of counselling depends primarily on three factors:

  1. Severity of your symptoms
  2. Comfort with communal care
  3. Time available dedicated to your program

People experiencing milder symptoms often benefit from individual or couples & family counselling, while those with more severe symptoms may benefit from investing more time to therapy in group or inpatient settings.

Let’s take a closer look at each of your five therapy options to determine which is the best fit to properly address your mental health concerns while suiting your unique circumstances.

Individual Counselling

Individual counselling provides you with one-on-one support from a counsellor who, ideally, specializes in the area of mental health you would like to improve. If you would like to alleviate symptoms of depression, stress, anxiety, trauma, substance use, or even sleep disturbances, you can speak with a counsellor trained in one or more of those areas of expertise.

As you begin researching different approaches to treating these mental health concerns, you are likely to come across two of the most popular therapies: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT). While both have their strengths when it comes to treating the above-mentioned issues, the main difference is that CBT teaches you to re-structure your thought patterns whereas DBT helps you adopt strategies to regulate your emotions.

When choosing a counselling program and counsellor, you can keep this information in mind so that you can make an informed decision about what you need to make a positive change in your life.

Couples & Family Counselling

Similar to individual counselling, couples & family counselling provides mental health support to treat a variety of concerns using an evidence-based therapeutic approach. The only difference is that these counselling sessions are designed to address interpersonal relationship issues between you and a partner or family member.

By meeting with a counsellor together, you can benefit from the added perspective of a partner, spouse, parent, sibling, or even child. Then, your counsellor can support both you and your loved one(s) as you strengthen your relationship by improving the 3 Cs:

  1. Communication
  2. Conflict resolution
  3. Compassion

As you learn different techniques to listen actively and speak constructively, the aim of this counselling format is to address unhealthy dynamics by making progress collectively rather than individually.

Group Counselling            

As we get further away from the one-on-one format of individual counselling, group counselling provides you with a community of like-minded people who have all made the admirable decision to improve their mental health. Similar to individual or couples & family counselling, group counselling is facilitated by a qualified counsellor who specializes in one or more areas of mental health. So, depending on your goal, you might join a group counselling session to learn how to:

  • Manage your anxiety
  • Manage your depression symptoms
  • Reduce stress
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Maintain your sobriety and prevent a relapse
  • Improve your sleep

The benefit of discussing these goals within a group is that you are given the opportunity to hear about the experiences, challenges, and successes of others to help you feel inspired as you make progress toward your ideal state of wellness.

When considering group counselling, ask a few questions before joining to ensure you get the most out of your program, including:

  • The date and time of the session (usually weekly)
  • The duration (usually 1-2 hours)
  • How many group members are expected to attend
  • The cost per session (and if the counsellor is qualified by your insurance provider’s standards)

Knowing these factors will set you up for long-term success by avoiding any unpleasant surprises along the way.

Intensive Outpatient Program

In contrast to the three therapeutic options already mentioned, an intensive outpatient program is designed to give people with moderate to complex mental health issues more support that meets their need. Participation in an intensive outpatient program is more appropriate for someone who needs more intensive programming than just weekly counselling sessions but do not require acute medical monitoring or interventions to treat their mental health, trauma, addictions or concurrent diagnosis. Similarly, individuals participating in outpatient programs do not require medically-assisted withdrawal management support from alcohol and/or other substances.

In contrast to the 1-2 hours of counselling per week commitment in the individual, couples/family and group counselling sessions, intensive outpatient programs can be customized for clients. As such, the time commitment can range from 9-25 hours per week of counselling for an average of 8-12 weeks. Although this does sound like a considerable time commitment, people who are experiencing moderately severe symptoms of anxiety, depression, trauma, addictions or concurrent disorders benefit from the intensive schedule of this program.

Inpatient Program

Those with severe mental health concerns who would benefit from the rigorous schedule of an intensive outpatient program but need the around-the-clock medical care of an interdisciplinary team, i.e. psychologists, physicians, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, and psychiatrists, are likely a fit for an inpatient program.

Inpatient programs use highly structured therapeutic interventions to help patients change unhealthy coping behaviour, negative thought patterns, or feelings over the span of several weeks. Ranging from 6-9 weeks, an ideal inpatient program provides patients with 24/7 holistic care from a variety of health professionals to support their overall well-being to achieve substantial progress in both mental and physical health.

Alternatives to In-Person Counselling

One last option to remember when choosing one of the first four therapy options is that phone or online counselling might be most appropriate, especially if you have:

  • Busy work and/or personal schedules
  • Mobility issues
  • Limited access to transportation
  • Anxiety about meeting with a therapist in person

If any of these situations apply to you, you might find it challenging to attend in-person counselling sessions, which is why online counselling exists to help you access care from the comfort of your home. Fortunately, in our digital age, connecting has never been easier! So, whether you need counselling in between meetings and personal commitments, on vacation, or simply prefer communicating via phone or video, you can check in with a mental health professional whenever and wherever is most convenient for you.

Finally, when deciding on which route to care is optimal for you, always remember to choose a service provider you can trust. There are countless options out there but only a select few will be able to offer you:

  • The expertise of a qualified mental health professional (Master’s degree or higher)
  • A counsellor with whom you feel completely comfortable, heard, and understood
  • Affordable and insurance-reimbursable counselling options
  • Specialized services to address your unique concerns
  • Flexible scheduling to easily fit into your routine

If you would like more information about a counselling option that is right for you, please visit:

Welcome to Homewood Health
Homewood Health Centre is a fully accredited, physician-led, medically-based inpatient treatment facility offering several specialized programs and extensive services to treat a wide range of mental health issues including trauma, addiction, anxiety, depression as well as co-occurring mental health and addiction issues.

Relax, Thrive, Persevere, and more. Transform your life with affordable and convenient virtual therapy from the comfort of your home.

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