The Difference Between Inpatient and Outpatient Mental Health Treatment

When it comes to mental health treatment, there are two main options: inpatient and outpatient. In an inpatient program, the person receives support and treatment while staying the night and living in the center throughout the program. In outpatient programs, the person attends treatment during the day or night but sleeps at home. The main difference between inpatient and outpatient mental health care is that adolescents live at home while receiving outpatient treatment and inpatient treatment that takes place while they live in a hospital or adolescent treatment center.

However, outpatient treatment offers clients many of the same clinical and experiential modalities that they receive in a residential or inpatient facility. At the most fundamental level, the vital difference between an inpatient mental health treatment program and an outpatient one is whether the client stays overnight. Outpatient mental health treatment should not be limited to accelerating the recovery process, because each person heals at their own pace. Outpatient treatment helps patients learn to cope with stress factors and manage their mental health.

Most inpatient and outpatient treatment programs employ the same treatment modalities, only with different levels of care. The two options are not mutually exclusive, and many people who need treatment switch from one to the other. Studies show that intensive outpatient treatment is effective for the underlying problems that catalyze depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and other mental health and co-occurring disorders. In addition, some mental health centers offer yoga and meditation classes, as well as other experiential approaches to maintaining healthy habits and learning to cope with daily life.

For many people who undergo inpatient treatment, a long-term outpatient treatment plan is an important part of maintaining mental well-being. Outpatient care may include one or more mental health services that do not require an extended stay in a facility. The best option depends on factors such as mental health history, history of relapse, and commitment to change. Clients spend each day focusing on achieving mental well-being without external anxieties, relationships, or addictions interfering with the primary goal of healing. However, instead of focusing on training a person in a supportive environment, the goal is to provide healthy coping strategies that can then be practiced in a real environment outside of the treatment center.

Nikki Swancutt
Nikki Swancutt

Lifelong beer practitioner. Friendly social media advocate. Proud twitter fanatic. Unapologetic pop culture lover. Wannabe communicator.

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