Types of Treatment: What is Outpatient Treatment?
The decision to seek treatment can be overwhelming but it is important to do your research to determine which level of care is most appropriate for you or your loved one. As you may know, eating disorders are complex psychiatric disorders that are best treated with a multidisciplinary team including a physician, nutritionist and mental health professional. Therefore, health, food consumption and behavioral issues can all be addressed. Determining the level of care needed for someone diagnosed with or showing symptoms of an eating disorder/ disordered eating are generally dependent on the severity of the problem. The levels of treatment range from hospitalization and residential programs offered to those who need high levels of care and supervision, to outpatient being for those who require flexibility and need less supervision. So what exactly is outpatient treatment and is it right for you?
Lowest Level of Supervision and Restriction
Outpatient treatment is the lowest level of treatment in terms of supervision and restriction. It is a non-residential setting where clients commute to and from the agency or service provider for a few hours a week. Outpatient treatment provides flexibility because the individual seeking services can still balance and remain committed to activities such as work and school while still seeking treatment. Outpatient treatment has also been said to be more affordable. According to an article in the New York Times, in-patient programs can be costly and the recommended length of stay is usually three months or more. Most insurance companies are therefore very skeptical about providing coverage, leaving many individuals and families with fitting most of the bill out of pocket. Outpatient care options include the Maudsley Method, a family based therapy where families can provide the level of care comparable to a residential program for less cost. Outpatient treatment also provides diversity, where the individual needing care can choose for therapy, support groups, and other mediums of services.
Benefits of Outpatient Care vs Inpatient Care
Although flexibility, cost effectiveness and diversity may seem to be benefits of outpatient care versus inpatient care it is important to think about the following questions. What level of supervision will you or the individual require? Is he/ she going to be able to remain committed to other important priorities such as supporting a family, work or school? What has been tried and was it successful? If the answer is limited supervision and needing flexibility then outpatient treatment may be right for you or someone you know. If not, do not be discouraged just continue to research and consult knowledgeable professionals until you find the best fit.