Mental Health: How to Navigate Through the Levels of Therapy Services That Are Available

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It can be somewhat overwhelming and confusing navigating through mental health treatment if you are unfamiliar with the levels of care that are available.  Whether you are a parent of a child in need of mental health services or an adult who is struggling with mental health issues, you may be unaware of where to begin.  The following guide can hopefully be a starting point for you.

Inpatient Services

Inpatient treatment is typically meant for individuals who are in need of a high level of care.  Children, adolescents, and adults who are having active suicidal thoughts may end up either admitting themselves into an inpatient facility or may be referred through a mental health professional after a psychological screening is conducted.  For example, if a child or adolescent discloses to a school counselor that they are having active suicidal thoughts and there is a psychiatric emergency, they may be referred immediately to a local hospital where a psychiatric screening will occur.  Depending on the results of the screening, it may be recommended that the child or adolescent be admitted into an inpatient facility for treatment.

What happens at an inpatient facility?

Inpatient facilities provide a variety of mental health services.  These services may include group counseling, individual counseling, family counseling, substance abuse counseling, and more.  A psychiatrist is on staff and can provide medication monitoring and a therapist is assigned to provide case management and mental health treatment.  A typical length of stay is three to seven days depending on how severe the issue is.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

A PHP is one step down from inpatient.  At a PHP, similar services are provided as at an inpatient facility.  However, treatment at a PHP program only occurs during the day, whereas at an inpatient program, beds and rooms are provided for your stay.  The hours of treatment are typically from 9-3.  During this time, mostly group counseling is conducted.  Depending on the facility, a multitude of treatment methods may be provided including DBT, CBT, etc.  A client is assigned a therapist/case manager and medication monitoring is provided if a psychiatrist is on staff.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

An IOP is one step down from a PHP.  At an IOP, services are provided a few times per week and are typically conducted during after school hours.  If treatment is being provided for an adolescent, busing is sometimes provided from schools to the program.  Mostly group counseling is provided at an IOP.  A therapist/case manager along with medication monitoring can be provided through an IOP.

Outpatient Therapy Services

Outpatient services are one step down from an IOP.  Typically, treatment is provided once per week to start and may gradually spread out over time depending on the progress of the client.  Main Street Counseling is an example of outpatient treatment.  At outpatient therapy services, a client is connected with a therapist who provides counseling services.  It may be difficult to find the right fit for you when searching for a therapist.  To learn more information and get more tips on how to find the right therapist for you, please read my blog, How to Find the Right Therapist for You & Your Family: 5 Tips for Individuals and Families New to the Process!

If you have questions or are unsure what to do, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

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