When to Choose Residential Treatment Over Other Treatment Programs

by | Apr 16, 2019 | Resources

residential treatment center

What is A Residential Treatment Center?

Residential treatment centers, sometimes called rehabs, provide treatment for a wide-range of issues, including mental disorders, behavioral issues, and substance abuse and addiction problems.  Residential treatment centers are clinically focused, intensive, live-in facilities where patients are continually monitored and supervised by trained staff.

Alternative Treatment Options

Outpatient – outpatient settings may refer to a variety of services or treatment modalities, such as individual therapy, group therapy, or support groups.  These services may take place at a community mental health facility or a private practice.  Outpatient mental health services are considered the lowest level of care, as no overnight stay or intensive programming is involved (outpatient services are scheduled at the patient’s discretion, meaning they seek appointments on an “as needed” basis).

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs) – similar to partial hospitalization programs, yet the patient attends on a less frequent basis for a shorter amount of time (typically three times per week for a few hours).  IOPs primarily focus on mental health issues and/or substance abuse, and may be appropriate for someone who needs more support than what is available in outpatient settings.

Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs) – also called “day-programs,” PHPs are outpatient programs where patients attend at least six hours per day of programming.  This level of care is often part of a step-down approach to aftercare for patients leaving a residential treatment program or hospitalization.

Hospitalization – sometimes referred to as Inpatient Acute Care, hospitalization is intended for those who require 24-hour care and access to a medical doctor.  Hospitalization often occurs for those who need psychiatric stabilization and/or are at risk of harming themselves or someone else.  Hospitalization is used in “crisis” situations, for the purpose of stabilizing the patient (which usually occurs within a few days).

Why Seek Residential Treatment?

With so many different levels of care and so many different programs across the country, trying to determine the best fit when it comes to treatment can be overwhelming. Although people go to residential treatment for a variety of different issues, there are certain struggles that almost always warrant a residential level of care, such as:

  • Severe Mental Health Disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Addiction

Beyond having specific disorders or diagnoses, there are other factors that may make residential treatment an appropriate fit, including:

  • Having tried lower levels of care (outpatient, IOP, etc.) with little or no relief of symptoms.
  • Lack of adequate support(s) at home or in the community
  • Safety issues – self-harm urges or bxs
  • Diagnostic ambiguity – if treatment providers struggle to determine a person’s diagnoses, residential care may be suggested. In a residential treatment center, mental health professionals and doctors can gain a more complete view of the patient’s symptoms, behaviors, emotions, etc.

Benefits of Residential Treatment

Each residential treatment center is different from the others in one way or another.  Regardless of the differences, there are some common, inherent features that, in general, contribute to why residential can be so effective.

  • 24-hour support – the continuous monitoring and 24/7 available support present in all residential treatment centers is a huge advantage compared to other levels of care. While it can, at times, feel like an invasion of privacy, this ongoing support and monitoring helps track patient progress, identify areas of struggle, and help prevent relapse.
  • Distance – from the patient’s previous life. Getting away from toxic people, triggering places, etc. distance from one’s current situation can help with gaining discernment and perspective, as well as being around healthier individuals.
  • Different modalities of therapy – typically, residential treatment centers will offer numerous modalities of therapeutic intervention (not just the typical “talk therapy” seen in many outpatient facilities). Many residential treatment centers work from a holistic approach, meaning they offer modalities to treat the mind, body, and spirit). Some common modalities include trauma therapy, equine therapy, art therapy, and various kinds of experiential therapies.
  • Frequent sessions – not only do residential treatment centers tend to have a plethora of therapeutic modalities available to patients, but also more frequent sessions. Being able to see a therapist on a daily basis (or at least having one available daily) can help jump-start patient recovery and create a trusting therapeutic relationship.  The therapeutic relationship is not only nurtured by the frequency of sessions, but also the fact that at a residential treatment center, therapists are able to see their patients in other settings (not just within the confines of an office).  In residential treatment, therapists and counselors often facilitate therapy groups, go on outings or have meals with patients, or participate in experiential activities with patients. This allows therapists to see patients in multiple situations and gain further insight into who they are and what they struggle with.
  • Structure and Routine – residential treatment centers typically have a fairly structured schedule to their days. Patients will wake up and go to sleep at the same time, participate in household chores and duties, have scheduled mental health and medical appointments, and time allotted for leisure and/or exercise.

What to Look For When Seeking Residential Treatment

  • Accreditation and/or Licensure – each state has it’s own licensure requirements for mental health treatment centers, and even though the qualifications to get licensed may vary slightly, every residential treatment center is required to be licensed. In addition to licensure, many RTCs seek additional accreditation, meaning they have gone through a series of evaluations to reach certain standards.  While not required, choosing an RTC that is accredited in addition to being licensed only ensures quality of care.
  • Access to Emergency Care Services – a good residential treatment facility will have working relationships with the local hospitals and/or urgent care facilities. Whether a patient has an accident, engages in self-harm, or is in crisis (and therefore in need of additional support), it is imperative the treatment facility have these resources available to them.
  • Aftercare Planning – planning for discharge usually happens soon after admission (there are some exceptions to this based on the individual patient). This is where the patient’s treatment team and patient discuss a plan for the patient’s care once they are discharged from the residential treatment center.
  • Credentialed Staff – not only is it important for an RTC to have appropriately trained and (in some cases) credentialed staff, but also an adequate number of staff available. The census (number of patients) can vary from day to day, as on any given day there may be some patients being admitted while others are discharged.  Thus, there needs to be enough staff to adequately support any number of patients (depending on the maximum capacity of the treatment center).

Polaris Teen Center is a Residential Treatment Facility for Teens and Adolescents. If your child is suffering from severe mental health or co-occurring substance abuse disorders, it’s important to find the right help. Our medical staff is fully certified and holds doctorate degrees in Advanced Areas of Teen Psychology. Every member of our staff is clinically certified to ensure the highest standard of care for your son or daughter. For more information Polaris Programs, call 1 (844) 836-0222 to confidentially speak to a member of our admissions staff.

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Polaris Teen Center is a residential treatment facility for teens and adolescents suffering from severe mental health disorders. Our highly accredited facility is fully licensed and certified in Trauma Informed Care and is a part of the Behavioral Health Association of Providers (formerly AATA).