Acera Health

Tips for Outpatient Treatment

Tips for Outpatient Treatment

When you decide to participate in an outpatient treatment program, you may not know what is going to happen next. We will discuss what outpatient treatment is, what to expect, and tips on how to successfully navigate through the program.

What is Outpatient Treatment?

Outpatient treatment means that you can undergo treatment while remaining at home and doing your usual activities, such as going to school or having a job. This can bring comfort knowing you have a familiar setting to return to and you may choose to undergo this type of treatment as a result.

When it is time for treatment, you either travel to the mental health facility where the treatment takes place (usually psychotherapy), or engage digitally through a program where you can speak to your therapist through telehealth. If you need a psychiatrist as well, you will also travel to their office to receive treatment and checkups to be sure your medication is helping you.

Outpatient therapy is only as intensive as you want. You can choose the regularity in which you receive your therapy. Common ones are about a session a week, but you may choose to have more sessions a week, or sessions once a month or bi-weekly. It is up to you and your therapist to decide which frequency is the best. In emergencies, sessions can be increased as needed.

What Are You Expected to Do in Outpatient Treatment?

There are a couple of things that you will be responsible for when deciding to go with outpatient treatment. You will need to be sure that you show up on time for your appointments. If for any reason you need to cancel an appointment, call or email your therapist at least a day in advance to let them know that you cannot come in. Sometimes instead you can choose to have the appointment over telehealth if you cannot physically come into the office, such as having your car breakdown or are physically sick.

You are expected to participate as best you can in sessions. Remember you have the right to leave or drop a subject whenever you want. Sometimes you may just want some nice conversation to give you some reassurance, and that is fine too. Other times you will be assigned ‘homework’. Mostly these are sheets where you fill in how you feel or write about events in your life. These are tools therapists use to help understand your emotions as well as spot patterns that may be forming.

Therapists may also recommend further reading to help you better understand your symptoms. A therapist’s office is there to give you a safe place to talk about your emotions where nobody else can overhear.

Tips To Succeed

Here are a few universal tips that can give you the edge you need for the highest chance of recovery success.

Set two alarms: You do not want to be late for an appointment, and for some disorders like depression, over-sleeping is a common symptom. You can set a regular alarm on your phone next to your bed. Also, have a physical alarm that can only shut off if you walk over to it and physically turn it off. Getting you out of bed will wake you up and is less likely to let you fall back asleep.

Write down your thoughts and feelings: Keeping a journal on how you feel is a valuable tool in helping you heal. Some emotions come as part of patterns, and a therapist can spot such patterns and help you replace those negative emotions with positive ones. Sometimes it helps to also have a dream journal, as your subconscious tends to deal with difficult emotions through sleep. If something major happens before a session, be sure to jot down what happened and how it made you feel. If you struggle with anxiety or suppressed memories from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you may find that you can keep your thoughts organized with the help of a journal.

Keep the emergency number close: Therapists cannot be in their office all the time, but any mental health facility will usually have a list of local numbers you can call in case of an emergency. Getting these numbers now and saving them on your phone or in a book will make things much easier, should you have a mental health emergency.

Remember your rights: Before you officially begin treatment, your therapist will go over your rights as a patient. Make sure to ask questions if you need them, and they will be happy to answer. You will most likely be given a sheet that has the printout of your patient rights. Keep this in a safe spot so you may reference them later.

Reward yourself: Therapy is hard and can be emotionally difficult. Arrange to have a small reward after a session to give yourself something positive to look forward to. It can be something as small as getting a cupcake, a drink you like, or going to see a movie.

Take care of yourself: Therapy can be just as hard as any other type of medical treatment and can be very tough on your body and emotions. Be sure to treat yourself well, such as getting good sleep and eating healthy foods. Choose relaxing activities that can help you wind down from serious sessions, such as a hot bath or reading a book with a mug of cocoa.

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of what to expect and how to succeed when participating in an outpatient program. Knowledge is power, and with more information you get, the less scary things may seem.

Outpatient treatment is just one treatment program you can choose when treating your mental health disorder. Out of all treatment programs we offer, outpatient is the least intensive and is best for treating mental health disorders that aren’t as severe as others.

For people that want to stay in the comfort of their homes and receive help at the same time, outpatient treatment may be the right fit for you. At Acera Health in Costa Mesa, California, we help you choose the right treatment program for you with compassionate professionals eager to help you. Nobody deserves to live a life of pain and fear and you deserve to be happy and healthy.

For more information about the treatment programs we offer, call (949) 649-2339 to speak with one of our staff members. We are always happy to answer any questions you may have in regard to treatment options. 


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