Outpatient therapy: what is it and is it effective? (2023)

ambulatorytherapydefined as any form of psychotherapy provided when the client is not admitted to a hospital, residential program, or other inpatient setting. Outpatient therapy is a resource for individuals seeking support for mental health issues that do not require 24-hour support or security monitoring.

Outpatient therapy can be offered in hospitals, doctor's offices that employ therapists, group practices, or private practices.

Psychologists, clinical social workers, counselors and certain medical professionals can provideoutpatient therapy. Interns and students working toward a mental health degree or license may also offer outpatient therapy under the supervision and supervision of a qualified, licensed professional.

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Outpatient therapy: what is it and is it effective? (1)

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Types of outpatient therapy

Outpatient therapy may take timemany forms, depending on the wishes of the customer. individual therapy,group therapy, family therapy andRelationship therapyall can be provided in outpatient settings. Sessions can vary in frequency, including weekly, twice weekly, every other week, and monthly, depending on the client's individual needs and treatment progress.

Outpatient therapists can practice with many different theoretical orientations, depending on the therapist's personal style and education. Most of the orientations taught in inpatient and counseling programs can be completed in an outpatient setting, including:

  • Adlerian therapy: A brief therapeutic approach that emphasizes setting and achieving specific goals, as well as psychoeducation about mental health.
  • Behavioral therapy: A form of therapy aimed at changing problematic behavior by strengthening desired behavior.
  • Cognitive therapy: A typical approach to short-term therapy that explores how a person's thoughts affect feelings and behavior.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: A form of therapy that aims to help individuals recognize the connection between maladaptive thoughts, behaviors, and emotions and make positive changes in those patterns.
  • humanistic therapy: An approach to mental health that helps clients identify their "true selves" and determine how to live their most authentic lives.
  • psychoanalysis: A long-term approach to talk therapy that explores how a person's subconscious affects thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
  • psychodynamic therapy: A long-term therapeutic approach that involves deep exploration and understanding of emotions and thoughts through talk therapy.
  • Strength-based therapy: An approach to therapy that emphasizes the client's pre-existing strengths and helps the client identify and use those strengths in his or her life.

How the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) works.

Outpatient therapy techniques

Therapeutic techniques vary depending on the theoretical orientation of the therapist and the individual needs of the client. All orientations are includedtalk therapy, which helps the client articulate their treatment needs and goals and allows the therapist to determine which interventions might be most helpful.

Because outpatient therapy consists of timed sessions, many outpatient therapists will assign homework between sessions. Orders may include monitoring thoughts and emotions,thoughtfulnessor meditation exercises, or trying different communication styles or conflict resolution.

Where outpatient therapy can help

Because outpatient therapists have the flexibility to draw on different theoretical orientations and techniques, outpatient therapy can help with a wide range of mental health problems.

Therapists can use outpatient therapy to help with many diagnoses, includingdepression,spanwise,trauma, uspanwise.

Advantages of outpatient therapy

Outpatient therapy allows clients to schedule sessions based on their availability and can choose the frequency and goals of treatment based on their needs and priorities.

Outpatient therapy allows anyone to seek therapy services and support for their mental health while being able to live their lives between sessions. Many clients are able to continue working or attending school while receiving outpatient therapy.

Because there are many different types of outpatient therapy, clients can find a therapist that fits their individual needs and preferences. Outpatient therapy can also be carried out viateleprobes, so that users living in rural areas do not have to travel to get services.

Effectiveness of outpatient therapy

"Outpatient therapy" can refer to many different techniques and therapeutic approaches, which vary in their empirical support and evidence-based efficacy data. However, outpatient therapy can reduce an individual's risk of needing psychiatric hospitalization or inpatient mental health care.

Research has shown that several outpatient services can provide symptom relief for the diagnosis of depression and anxietyUnpleasantborderline personality disorder.In addition, outpatient therapy is an important resource and support for clients after hospital discharge, including improving treatment outcomes and reducing the need for additional hospitalizations.

Things to consider

If you struggle with mental health but are able to live independently, outpatient therapy can be very helpful.

Individuals who require ongoing therapeutic support, who need to be examined daily, or who cannot live independently may require inpatient or inpatient treatment. If you experience activesuicidal thoughts, you may need to take extra care to ensure your safety.

When exploring outpatient therapy options, contact yourinsurance companyto get information about your coverage and how much therapy services may cost you. You can also talk to your employer about whether you have an Employee Assistance Program that offers a limited number of free sessions.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, please reach outNational Suicide Prevention HotlineBee988for the support and assistance of a trained counselor. If you or a loved one is in immediate danger, call 911.

For more mental health resources, check out ourNational helpline database.

How to get started

If you feel you would benefit from outpatient therapy, you can find a therapist whose training and style match your needs and preferences.

Your first therapy will likely include providing information about your personal history, family history, and symptoms.When you first start treatment, it may take time to build trust and rapport with your therapist, and you may discover emotions you haven't dealt with before. You may also need to try more than one therapist before finding a provider that works for you.

Together, you and your therapist will develop a treatment plan and goals that fit your needs and address your specific symptoms. Starting outpatient therapy can be stressful, but it allows you to continue living your life while receiving support for your mental health needs.

3 sources

Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to back up the facts in our articles. Read ourseditorial processfor more information on how we check facts and keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.

  1. Eskildsen A, Reinholt N, van Bronswijk S, et al.Personalized psychotherapy for outpatients with major depression and anxiety disorders: transdiagnostic versus diagnosis-specific cognitive behavioral therapy in groups.Cogn Ther Res. 2020;44(5):988-1001.

  2. Ellison WD, Levy KN, Newman MG, Pincus AL, Wilson SJ, Molenaar PCM.Dynamics between borderline personality traits and anxiety traits in outpatient psychotherapy patients: An investigation of nomothetic and idiographic patterns.Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment. 2020;11(2):131-140.

  3. Teixeira C, Rosa RG.Post-intensive care clinic: is it feasible and effective? Literature review.Brazilian Journal of Intensive Care. 2018;30(1).

Outpatient therapy: what is it and is it effective? (2)

DoorAmy Marshall, psiholog
dr. Amy Marschall is an autistic clinical psychologist with ADHD who works with children and adolescents who, among others, also identify with these neurotypes. She is certified in TF-CBT and telemental health.

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