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Group Counseling vs. Individual Counseling

 Questions always arise as to whether or not one should counsel in a group setting or in an individual setting. Before you decide which route to go, here are some questions to ask yourself and some pros and cons to each form of nutrition counseling.

Questions to Ask:

  • Do I have space that can accommodate 5 or more people?
  • Have any of my individual clients ever asked if I have forums or do group sessions?
  • Do some of my clients need individualized care?

Pros to Group Counseling:

  • Increase practitioners revenue by assisting the masses in one setting therefore optimizing counseling time, efficiency, and resources
  • Clients get additional support, feedback, and advice from one another
  • Clients save money since group sessions are generally cheaper than individual sessions
  • Hearing other people’s challenges/struggles can sometimes reduce one’s personal stress on his/her own struggles and provide an alternate perception
  • Improved social skills by having people interact with others in a safe setting

Cons to Group Counseling:

  • Clients who are shy many not speak up during group sessions to express their challenges/struggles so these can go unattended
  • Clients who may need more attention for additional needs, which are not discussed in the group session, can get lost in the crowd and overlooked
  • Some people do not work well in group settings and prefer one-on-one counseling only
  • Not all topics/subjects discussed will be pertinent to everyone in the group
  • Group sessions have a non-flexible set time and date

Pros to Individual Counseling:

  • Full attention is provided to the client which optimizes one-on-one care and tackles specific needs and circumstances by delving deeper into one’s challenges
  • Scheduling is more flexible in regards to when each session meets, how long, and how often (i.e. once a week, every 2 weeks, once a month, etc)
  • With individual counseling, clients do not have to worry about clashing personalities with other clients in a group setting. The only two people involved are the client and the practitioner
  • More time is available for clients who need additional sessions to accommodate their needs versus in a group setting, a set number of sessions/classes are held. If the client needs more sessions at the end of the scheduled group sessions, the client and practitioner need to figure something else out
  • Non-threatening environment and can feel “safe” for people who are shy about their situation

Cons to Individual Counseling:

  • Cost is higher for individual sessions and may not be an option due to finances, even if the individual sessions are preferred
  • Additional advice or ideas may not be expressed from just the practitioner which could lead the individual to have less options available
  • Some topics can be missed if the client is not willing to share a specific area of need for improvement
  • The practitioner has a limited amount of clients he/she can attend to due to the fact that only one client can be seen at a time
  • Not as time efficient or cost effective for the practitioner if clients reschedule or skip appointments

Many people do both types of counseling at their clinics to accommodate various people’s needs. Having options helps to diversify one’s practice.

Now that you have the quick breakdown, which route are you going to take?

Sarah Koszyk is founder of Family. Food. Fiesta. A family-based wellness program and blog focusing on recipes, family health tips, and videos with kids cooking in the kitchen. She is a Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Coach specializing in sports nutrition and adult and pediatric weight management. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or LinkedIn.

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