Individual counseling is exactly what it sounds like. It is one individual working one on one with a counselor or therapist. It is the most common type of therapy. In individual therapy sessions, the person will meet with his or her therapist and focus on the goals of the individual seeking help. The great thing about individual therapy is the individual is able to have a safe environment to talk about hard things and get unbiased, objective feedback and suggestions. Couples and family therapy are different because there are many other people, thoughts, and feelings in the room and the therapist spends time helping everyone communicate and work better together. In individual therapy, the therapist will help the individual set goals and create objectives to help them achieve those goals and it is generally documented in a treatment plan, which is like a road map for how to be successful with therapy goals. Objectives are important because many times, the person seeking therapy is likely to know what his goals are, but doesn’t know the steps to take to achieve them. That is where the therapist is very helpful and will create objectives, or steps, to help the individual meet his or her goals.
Individual therapy is very different than talking to a friend or family member. Both friends and family members can offer great advice, but the problem is it is hard for them to stay objective. They may think they know exactly what is best for you and they could be wrong. They also aren’t trained to work with people and help them achieve their goals and heal from past trauma and pain. It also isn’t confidential. You might confide in your sister, only to find out that she told your parents and that could be damaging.