If you’re looking into mental health treatment, chances are you can’t decide between an inpatient or outpatient program. Some individuals may not know the difference between them or what’s involved in both programs.
This article’s goal is to clarify the differences and similarities between inpatient and outpatient treatment and help you decide which treatment program is right for you.
Inpatient Vs. Outpatient Mental Health Treatment
The biggest differences between inpatient and outpatient mental health treatment is the level of care, supervision, and whether a client stays overnight.
- Inpatient treatment, or residential treatment, involves a client staying in a hospital or residential facility for a few weeks to several months. This type of treatment is perfect for individuals with debilitating mental disorders who are at risk of harming themselves or require a place to stay away from triggers or unsupportive home environments. The programs are also recommended for individuals who recently experienced a mental health crisis to help process the feelings and emotions that led to that moment.
- Outpatient treatment does not require clients to stay overnight at a facility and allows them to implement what they learned in therapy at home. Instead, clients attend therapy sessions or other mental health appointments on a scheduled basis, typically ranging from once to several times a week. Outpatient treatment can vary in intensity and duration, with some programs consisting of a few sessions and others lasting for several months or even years.
Alternatives To Inpatient Treatment
As mentioned earlier, these programs can be short or long-term based on your needs and goals, so you’ll need to dedicate time to your recovery. If you don’t have the ability to stay overnight or dedicate afternoons and evenings to treatment, you can always attend a partial hospitalization program or PHP. Unlike inpatient programs offering 24-hour monitoring and support, PHPs typically offer several hours of treatment each day, several days a week, closely resembling a 40-hour work week.
How To Decide What’s Right For You
Unfortunately, there’s no set-in-stone way to pick which program is right for you. We always recommend talking to a mental health professional to help determine which program will be most effective by reviewing your experience, mental health issues, comfort levels, budget, and ability to access and meet the program requirements.
- Experiences: Your past experiences are the first things clinicians will analyze when choosing a program. If you’ve tried outpatient mental health treatment before and it wasn’t as effective, you’ll likely be recommended to attend an inpatient or partial hospitalization program to help you stick to the recovery process and prevent any past challenges. If you’ve already attended an intensive care program, an outpatient program can be a stepping stone as you transition into daily life and responsibilities. On the other hand, substance use disorders are better treated in PHP, residential, or inpatient programs to work through detox and the early stages of recovery.
- Mental Health Conditions: Individuals struggling with more severe mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, may need more intensive treatment than others, especially if they have a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder.
- Comfort: If staying overnight somewhere else or leaving family or pets behind isn’t a viable option, outpatient facilities can provide the perfect balance of medical care. You can go to treatment during the day and complete home responsibilities in the afternoon with new insights from what you learned. Unfortunately, some individuals find it harder to resist substances or focus on their mental health if their home environments present too many triggers or potential for relapse.
- Affordability: Cost and co-pays are typically on everyone’s mind when considering different treatment services. Inpatient programs and other higher levels of care are usually more expensive due to the round-the-clock care and monitoring. Outpatient treatment centers can be more affordable and are usually more covered by insurance providers.
- Accessibility: Your ability and access to treatment facilities are probably the second most important factors when considering treatment options. If you live far away from an outpatient care program, it might be better to choose an inpatient program so you don’t have to drive long hours before and after treatment. Inpatient or residential programs are also perfect for individuals who need behavioral health care immediately.
Why Both Programs Work
Besides access and prior experience with mental health treatment, both programs work and shouldn’t be chosen based on timelines. If a mental health professional suggests one program over another you may have been leaning toward, remember that recovery is unique to each person, and everyone heals at their own rate.
Some programs even use a combination of both treatment options or transition from inpatient to outpatient services after an individual’s needs or treatment plan changes. In case you’re worried, one program doesn’t offer something the other doesn’t. Both programs usually offer the same therapy methods, including cognitive behavioral therapy, medication management, and group therapy.
Contact Launch Centers
If you or a loved one is still unsure about which program they should choose, contact Launch Centers in Los Angeles. Our treatment center does not offer 24/7 inpatient care, but we do offer partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs (IOP). When you call, one of our admissions agents can help you understand more about each program and or set up an appointment where you can discuss your needs and goals with one of our specialists. Mental health treatment isn’t out of reach, and Launch Centers is dedicated to helping find the right path to wellness.