How to Choose Between Inpatient or Outpatient Treatment Programs for Mental Health

If you’re seeking help for a past trauma or a mental health condition, you may be wondering if you should choose inpatient or outpatient treatment. Your circumstances and the severity of your condition will help determine the right treatment program for you.

Both inpatient and outpatient treatment can help you address the causes, triggers, and symptoms of your mental health condition. They also both teach you to cope with the difficulties of life in a sustainable way.1 One type of treatment program isn’t necessarily better or more effective than the other. But these two treatment programs differ in several ways.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Care for Mental Health

The biggest difference between inpatient and outpatient treatment programs is whether the person seeking treatment spends time in the facility overnight or goes home when the therapies are complete.

With an inpatient program, you stay in the facility each night and receive full-time treatment. During this time, you don’t return home or leave the facility – in most cases.

With an outpatient program for mental health, you have the same treatment options, but you are able to go home after your therapies are done for the day.

Considerations with Inpatient Treatment Programs

For some, staying at a facility helps to avoid the triggers, temptations, or unhealthy day-to-day patterns that can impact mental health. The environment supports recovery.

Inpatient facilities may offer 24-hour support and care. They may incorporate multiple therapies and modalities into their daily programming. These programs often include a “step-down” approach that helps people transition from an inpatient program to outpatient therapies.

Both short-term and long-term inpatient treatment programs are available, depending on your needs.

Considerations with Outpatient Treatment Programs

Conversely, outpatient treatment programs involve daily treatments, such as therapy, group sessions, or counseling, which take place at a facility. The treatment may be less intensive, but it’s no less effective.

Outpatient treatment may be chosen to give you time to take care of family or children, continue working or attending school, and keep up with other responsibilities. For people who have a strong support system of friends and family, this can be preferable to staying at a facility day and night.

How to Choose the Right Program

Inpatient and outpatient programs can be beneficial for different people and circumstances. Here are some things to consider when choosing between them:

  • Outpatient programs allow you to return home, while inpatient allows you to stay in the facility.
  • The cost of treatment may be lower for outpatient care than inpatient care.
  • Appointments can be made to accommodate work or school schedules with outpatient programs.
  • Outpatient programs allow you to continue working, going to school, or caring for a family member.
  • Inpatient programs are intensive and designed to address severe mental health conditions or trauma in a safe, healing space. It can help you avoid unhealthy environments or stressors while you learn to cope with the challenges of daily life.
  • Inpatient programs provide 24-hour care, similar to a hospital, but in a warmer setting. You’ll be surrounded by others experiencing similar challenges as yourself.
  • Treatment is structured and focuses on numerous aspects of your mental health.
  • If you struggle to attend therapy or group sessions on your own, an inpatient program ensures accountability and commitment to your treatment.
  • Medical attention and safe housing are available, which is beneficial for people with severe mental health conditions or symptoms – such as suicidal ideation or self-harm.

Inpatient or Outpatient Treatment: Which is Right for You?

There are advantages and disadvantages to both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs, depending on your circumstances. A medical or mental health professional can give you a detailed and complete assessment to determine the ideal level of care. This assessment can determine which program is best for you.

The severity of your condition is a big factor in choosing the right program, but you can also consider other factors like the cost of treatment, your current living situation, your support system, environmental stressors, triggers, and pressure, and your ability to commit to a program on your own.

You should also consider factors like your work or school schedule and flexibility, your transportation options, and your access to local care.

Find the Support You Need at Healing Foundations Center

Choosing to seek help for trauma or a mental health condition can be stressful and confusing. However, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. At Healing Foundations Center, we offer a range of outpatient services based on practical and dynamic modalities in a neutral safe space. Contact us today to get started.