Mental Health Therapy Settings

Therapy is one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health symptoms. It can be used to treat mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and more.

Or, you can use therapy as a way to help you manage stress, process grief or loss, or improve your relationships with others. Regardless of your reason for pursuing therapy, you might have questions about where and how your therapy sessions will proceed.

Before you start therapy, you'll need to find a therapist, and decide what type of therapy methods you want to pursue. Then, you'll need to consider a therapy setting. You may want to meet with a group of people. Or, you may prefer one-on-one counseling.

Additionally, you can choose in-person or telehealth. In this article, we'll review different therapy settings, including the pros and cons of all options. You'll have all the information you need to make an informed decision about your care. 

Key points:

Therapy Settings

Therapy Structures

How to Choose a Therapy Setting

Therapy Settings

In addition to therapy structures, there are therapy settings.

Inpatient therapy

With inpatient therapy, you remain on-premises at a treatment site for care. The duration of your stay in inpatient therapy depends on the degree or nature of your mental health symptoms. You may be in inpatient therapy due to safety concerns, such as suicidality or thoughts of harming others. Inpatient therapy is an important consideration if you feel you or your loved ones are in danger due to your mental health.

Virtual therapy or telehealth therapy

Virtual therapy is a great choice for those who have a hard time commuting to a treatment location. You may have the option to meet with your therapist virtually. This can make it easier for you if you have a busy schedule, or a hard time commuting. You may have an easier time getting your therapy visits covered by insurance if you choose a telehealth option. However, some forms of therapy, like animal-assisted therapy, are hard to do virtually. Make sure you consider this when choosing a virtual or in-person setting.

In-Person therapy

Some people feel they benefit more from in-person therapy. It may be easier to connect with your therapist. It may also help you have a set environment to talk about your mental health.

Outpatient therapy

Outpatient therapy is the most common therapy setting. With outpatient therapy, you visit your location treatment for your sessions and return home after.

Therapy Structures

One-on-one therapy, also known as individual therapy, is the most common therapy setting. However, group therapy and couples or family therapy are also popular options. Each therapy setting has benefits and drawbacks. You may also want to use one setting for a certain area of your mental wellness and a different setting for another. Make sure you consider which settings best fit your unique support needs.

Individual Therapy

Individual therapy involves one-on-one sessions between you and your therapist. You will meet with your therapist on a regular basis, and work through a course of treatment that has been personalized for your needs.


A personalized treatment approach 

Your therapist can focus on your unique goals

You may feel more comfortable sharing when in a one-on-one setting


Lack of social support

No opportunity to connect with others going through similar experiences

You may develop a dependent relationship with your therapist

You may feel more comfortable sharing after hearing from others

Related Article: What is the Role of the Therapist in Mental Health Treatment?

Family Therapy

Family therapy involves sessions with multiple family members. For example, this could include parents and their children. This therapy setting is intended to improve communication and strengthen the connection between family members. You may also find couple's therapy under this umbrella term. Couple's therapy also focuses on strengthening relationships, but focuses on you and a partner.


Greater understanding of your family's dynamics

Opportunity for several family members to work together towards common goals

Ability to find closure in a safe, guided environment

Possibility of strengthened family relationships


Possible resistance from family members who may not want to take part

Potential for power imbalances within the family that may be hard to address

Some family members may not feel comfortable speaking up

Group Therapy

Group therapy involves sessions with a therapist and several people experiencing similar issues. The goal is to improve social support and provide a sense of community. 


Increased social support and validation 

Opportunity to practice interpersonal skills in a safe and supportive environment

You may be more likely to share after hearing from others


Lack of individual attention from the therapist 

Potential discomfort or conflict within the group

You may want a private space to share your experiences

How to Choose a Therapy Setting

When choosing a mental health therapist, you'll want to take several factors into consideration:

1. Experience

Consider a therapist who has experience with your specific mental health concerns. For example, if you're navigating alcohol addiction, you'll want to find a therapist in this specialty.

2. Personality

Personality fit may be the most important factor to consider when choosing a therapist. You should "click" with your therapist - being able to trust them is crucial. If you don't feel comfortable opening up to your therapist, it will be hard to make progress.

3. Qualifications

There are many different types of mental health professionals. Generally, your therapist will be a psychiatrist, psychologist, or licensed counselor. Some may offer different services and care than others, and some have limitations due to their scope of practice. For example, a licensed counselor can't give you a diagnosis for your mental health condition or prescribe medication, but a psychiatrist can. You can learn more about different types of therapists here.

4. Cost and In-Network Therapists

Some therapists may ask for a higher fee than others. Your insurance may cover certain therapists and not others. You may also have to pay a certain amount of the cost out of pocket. Some therapists offer a sliding scale fee based on your income. It's important to consider all these factors before choosing a therapist. You may also have nonprofit mental health organizations serving your area, like the National Alliance on Mental Illness. These organizations offer free mental health services like emergency phone hotlines, education, and support groups for adults and teens.

Goodpath's Mental Health Approach

When seeking mental health treatment, it's important to find a plan that's tailored to you. Goodpath offers therapist care alongside conventional and complementary approaches to mental health. Our programs include evidence-based treatment plans for an individualized experience. Visit our mental health condition page to learn more about how Goodpath's approach to mental health can help you.