It is often in the period following an inpatient psychiatric hospitalization that the “real treatment” begins. After stabilizing the most severe symptoms that compromise a patient’s functioning, the patient and his or her therapist must then collaborate on the next steps that will help to make the patient’s goals and objectives into practical realities. Depending on the severity of the illness, many treatment choices are available.
A partial hospital program offers a high level of supervision for individuals who need more intensive services following an inpatient stay. Patients attend a partial program five days a week for five to six hours, receiving individual and group therapy and medication management. A patient usually attends a partial hospital program before transitioning to a lower level of outpatient care. Some illnesses are disabling enough in severity to require ongoing case management. Programs such as supportive and intensive case management or intensive psychiatric rehabilitation treatment provide essential support to patients with more severe mental illnesses.
Following an inpatient rehabilitation hospitalization for chemical dependency, outpatient options include intensive day/evening treatment programs, which are offered three to five days a week, and a variety of outpatient services that address aftercare and relapse prevention. For those who are being treated for co-occurring mental illness and chemical dependency, an ambulatory rehabilitation program may be appropriate. The dual focus of such programs offers therapy, medication management and development of skills for a sober life. An important component of these programs is the opportunity to meet others in early recovery.
Group therapy is a significant aspect of outpatient treatment. Some groups focus on a particular therapeutic technique, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, while others deal with a specific life or problem issue. Regardless of the specific topic, group therapy provides an excellent opportunity to exchange ideas and problem-solving techniques with others who are facing the same concerns.
In deciding which outpatient program to choose, the two main considerations should be preventing a reoccurrence of the acute episode that resulted in hospitalization and finding a program that will help the patient return to his or her normal function as soon as possible.
St. Vincent’s Hospital Westchester offers comprehensive inpatient and outpatient mental health and chemical dependency services for children, adolescents, adults and their families.