Residential vs. Outpatient Treatment

Advantages of Outpatient Treatment

  • The ability to assess and intervene while teens are still in their home environment.
  • The convenience of having regular access to parents, friends, and extended family in the lives of the student.
  • The teen can practice their therapeutic assignments where they struggle most.

Disadvantages of Outpatient Treatment

  • The teen knows that in one hour or less they will leave.
  • Teens struggle to trust and see the therapist as an extension of parental authority.
  • There is no disruption of unhealthy patterns of behavior.
  • Often, teens enter therapy under duress from parents. When this happens, teens often won’t be motivation to work through assignments or engage in the treatment process.

Advantages of Residential Treatment

  • The teen is away from an often toxic environment. This disrupts unhealthy patterns and allows for a change in thinking. Back home, it is hard to change when a teen feels that they are struggling for emotional safety on a day-to-day basis.
  • The teen starts to contemplate the need for change and over time starts to engage in the therapeutic process.
  • The therapist is around the teen in a number of different settings, which helps the therapist gain better insight into the problems that the teen faces.
  • The teen comes to rely on the therapist for things that don’t exist in an outpatient setting. This allows a strong therapeutic relationship to develop at a faster pace.
  • The therapy is more intensive, which helps teens accomplish more in their therapeutic progress in a shorter amount of time.
  • The teen is exposed to a number of different therapeutic interventions on a week-to-week basis, which helps therapists individualize and customize the therapeutic process.
  • The teen is in an environment where they are safe from their previous unhealthy and destructive behaviors.

Disadvantages of Residential Treatment

  • Separation from family is difficult.
  • Residential is more costly than outpatient therapy.
  • The residential therapeutic environment is somewhat sheltered, which means that specific efforts have to be made to prepare for a healthy transition back home.
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