Sometimes the weight of life can become difficult to manage on your own. Personal problems, family conflicts and stress from school and work are all factors that may make you consider seeking outpatient treatment.

One of the major benefits of mental health outpatient services is that there are many treatment options to choose from. This enables patients to receive personalized care that adapts to their unique needs and challenges.

As a result, outpatient care looks different for everyone. Factors influencing the outpatient care you receive include the severity of your condition, the condition itself and personal preference.

Some programs are longer than others, some occur in groups and others alone and some adopt different treatment strategies than others. With so many options available, navigating mental health outpatient services can seem intimidating.

In this article, Holly Hill Hospital guides you through the different programs, modalities and treatments available to those seeking mental health behavioral health services. By the end, you should feel empowered to get started on your mental health outpatient journey.

What Is Outpatient Treatment?

Mental health outpatient treatment is a popular option because of its flexibility, cost-efficiency and long-term continuity of care. Outpatient services treat mild to moderate mental health and substance abuse issues. They take place weekly but differ from inpatient treatment because they do not require staying overnight in a medically supervised facility.

Outpatient services typically treat mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, trauma and bipolar disorder. They can also be used to treat behavioral health issues such as eating disorders and substance use disorders.

Outpatient programs treat people of all ages and stages of life. Holly Hill Hospital makes outpatient treatment available for adolescents, adults and seniors.

The objective of outpatient care is to give patients the resources they need to recover and develop healthy coping mechanisms.

What Are the Two Kinds of Outpatient Programs?

The first choice you will likely have to make is what kind of outpatient treatment program is right for you. This should be done in consultation with a mental health professional.

There are two kinds of outpatient programs: Intensive outpatient programs (IOP) and partial hospitalization programs (PHP).

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

Intensive outpatient programs, or IOPs, are among the most popular options for receiving mental health services. IOPs help people struggling with their mental health but who do not need around-the-clock assistance.

The frequency of sessions varies. It is common for sessions to occur 2-3 times per week for 1-3 hours at a time. Holly HIll’s intensive outpatient program, for example, occurs three times per week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) from 8:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. These sessions usually take place in a medical setting, such as a therapist’s office, behavioral health center or hospital.

Intensive outpatient programs treat depression, mood disorders, substance abuse, and more.

Outpatient mental health professionals may recommend IOPs to someone who:

  • Has recently completed a PHP program
  • Has gone through a sudden traumatic event
  • Exhibits mild mental illness symptoms

Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP)

Partial hospitalization programs, or PHPs, help people struggling to manage their day-to-day life because of their mental health. PHPs are usually an alternative to hospitalization. They are usually a short-term solution to help patients build coping mechanisms and transition to an IOP.

While not requiring an overnight stay, PHP sessions may take place 3-5 times per week and last anywhere between 4-8 hours. Holly Hill’s partial hospitalization program, for example, occurs five times per week (Monday through Friday), from 8:45 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Since they are meant to be a short-term solution, they typically last 2-3 weeks.

Mental health professionals may recommend PHPs to someone who:

  • Has recently completed an inpatient program
  • Requires more structured levels of care
  • Is exhibiting moderate mental illness symptoms

Learn more about the benefits and differences between IOPs and PHPs.

What Are the Modalities for Outpatient Therapy?

Figuring out which outpatient program makes sense for your mental health is just the first step. You and your therapist should also discuss the outpatient therapy modality in which you would prefer your program to take place. Common types of counseling include individual therapy, family therapy and group therapy.

Individual Therapy

As the name suggests, individual therapy is a one-on-one modality of psychiatric treatment involving the patient and mental health professional. It may also be referred to as counseling, psychotherapy or talk therapy.

Holly Hill recommends individual therapy to those who need personal support with emotional, psychological or behavioral health issues.

Common benefits of individual therapy include:

  • Receiving individualized treatment
  • Working through problems in a private and confidential environment
  • Working through problems in a judgment-free setting

Family Therapy

Family therapy is a modality of outpatient psychiatric treatment that involves not only the struggling individual but also their family members. Depending on the situation, family therapy can look very different from person to person. Family therapy may involve spouses, children, parents, siblings or extended family.

Unlike individual therapy, family therapy focuses on the familial unit as a whole. It recognizes that if one person in the family struggles, others may too.

Family therapy usually attempts to help the struggling patient, while also healing the family unit.

Common benefits of family therapy include:

  • Enacting lasting changes in family dynamics
  • Promoting personal and familial healing
  • Breaking generational chains of trauma
  • Preventing mental health or addiction problems in other family members
  • Discouraging relapse by building family support systems

Holly Hill Hospital encourages family members to be active participants in their loved one’s healing journey.

Group Therapy

Group therapy involves therapy sessions where a mental health professional leads a group of patients to target a specific issue. Some people may opt for only group therapy, while others might attend both group and individual therapy.

Common benefits of group therapy include:

  • Being surrounded by people facing similar issues and in different stages of the recovery process
  • Feeling seen and realizing that you are not alone
  • Having an extensive support network that promotes relapse prevention

Overall, there are different benefits for individual, family and group therapy. Work with a mental health professional to understand if one or a combination of these modalities is good for you.

What Are the Options for Mental Health Outpatient Treatment?

Another factor to consider when starting outpatient care is what treatment strategy fits your needs. Here are some of the most popular mental health outpatient treatment options.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a popular talk therapy (or psychotherapy) option. It teaches the patient how to recognize negative thought patterns and respond to them more effectively. It is also common for CBT to be used in conjunction with medication management.

CBT is usually prescribed to those with depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD) and eating disorders.

Cognitive behavioral therapy benefits people who:

  • Are pessimistic about their condition
  • Have low self-esteem and who would like to become more confident
  • Need help to develop healthy coping mechanisms

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavior therapy is another form of talk therapy that initially evolved from cognitive behavioral therapy in the late 1970s. DBT helps people who experience emotions more intensely. Therefore, it usually treats conditions such as depression, borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, or people who have committed self-harm.

The term “dialectical” refers to combining opposing ideas to resolve an issue. In behavioral outpatient settings, DBT helps people both accept their reality and challenge their situation by learning new helpful behaviors. The overall objective of DBT is to help the patient learn new skills to keep their emotions in check.

Dialectical behavior therapy benefits people who:

  • Have trouble controlling their emotions
  • Want to improve their relationships
  • Want to learn coping skills to help project them beyond their mental health issues

Begin Your Healing Journey Today

At Holly Hill Hospital, we understand that sometimes life just feels too heavy, but you are not alone. Located in Raleigh, North Carolina, our compassionate team provides a judgment-free path to recovery. Holly Hill’s outpatient programs treat adolescents, adults and seniors.

We are here to help out. Reach out at 919-420-3256 or complete this form to get started on your path to recovery today.

If you are in crisis and need assistance immediately, call:

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 988

Emergency Services: 911