Inpatient vs. Outpatient Mental Health Treatment: Understanding the Differences
In a previous post, we outlined the fundamental differences between inpatient and outpatient mental health treatment to highlight the key benefits of inpatient mental health treatment. In this post, we’ll provide a more in-depth explanation of the distinctions, and you may discover that the differences in treatment between the two aren’t as significant as you’d think.
What’s the Difference Between Inpatient vs. Outpatient Care?
On the most fundamental level, the vital distinction between an inpatient and an outpatient mental health treatment program is whether the client stays overnight. With an inpatient program, clients stay at the treatment facility each night, receiving treatment full time without returning home. Outpatient treatment, on the other hand, aims to provide the same treatment options, but instead of staying overnight, clients are free to return home in the evenings and practice what they’re learning in a real-world setting.
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that inpatient vs. outpatient mental health treatment isn’t as simple as saying one is better than the other. The question comes down to which option is better for an individual’s personalized treatment plan.
The Impact of Milieu Therapy
The most important benefit of inpatient mental health treatment is that they facilitate an immersive approach to treatment. Clients spend each day focused on achieving mental well-being without external anxieties, relationships, or addictions interfering with the primary goal of healing. Milieu therapy provides a safe space where individuals can practice the new behaviors they’re learning with like-minded peers. For some people, the support of others struggling in similar ways is instrumental to a successful recovery.
Following a Real-World Model
An inpatient program should provide the same treatment options as an outpatient program. However, instead of focusing on building up an individual in a supportive environment, the goal is to provide healthy coping strategies that can then be practiced in a real-world environment outside of the treatment center. Some clients are ready right away, while others may need to spend more time in an inpatient program before building the requisite skills and confidence to make the transition and face practical challenges in the world.
Are you trying to decide if inpatient or outpatient treatment is right for your recovery path? Reach out to our specialists today to find the answer.
Why the Differences Shouldn’t Affect Treatment Options or Timelines
First, whether it’s an inpatient or outpatient mental health program, fixed treatment timelines should never be prescribed. Deciding between inpatient vs. outpatient mental health treatment should not come down to expediting the recovery process because everyone heals at their own rate. Additionally, an individual may require a blend of both inpatient and outpatient programs as part of their individualized treatment plan.
The decision between inpatient and outpatient care also shouldn’t be made based on available treatment options. Most inpatient and outpatient treatment programs employ the same treatment modalities, just with different levels of care. While inpatient treatment provides a more holistic, structured experience, the treatment methodologies may not look all that different from an outpatient program in practice. As a result, individuals won’t necessarily have access to special treatment options based on whether they’re enrolled in an inpatient or outpatient program.
Lastly, you have to remember that the distinction between inpatient vs. outpatient care is also dictated in large part by insurance companies since they bill differently for inpatient vs. outpatient mental health services. Many times, this gives insurance companies the ability to dictate recovery timelines based on billing and coverage. When that happens, individuals are prescribed more rigid recovery timelines that may not align with what’s most conducive to their healing.
How Can PCH Help?
PCH takes a client-first approach to understanding inpatient vs. outpatient mental health treatment programs. We recognize that the distinction should not dictate the quality of services a client receives. We also specialize in leveraging insurance billing in a way that favors our clients over insurance companies. Our approach allows us to tailor recovery timelines around each client’s needs rather than an insurance company’s mandates.
Whether you want to learn more about how we differentiate between inpatient and outpatient care or you’re ready to tour our treatment center, reach out to our specialists and learn more about how to get started.