Outpatient Treatment Options for Schizophrenia


Gina Garippo

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Outpatient Treatment Options for Schizophrenia

Finding the right treatment option can go a long way toward helping your loved one stick with their treatment plan.
woman talking to doctor

If your loved one has schizophrenia, you probably know there isn’t a cure. But you can help him or her take control of the illness with ongoing treatment and care. Finding the right treatment option can go a long way toward helping your loved one stick with his or her treatment plan. One choice to consider might be outpatient care.

There are many different types of outpatient treatment settings that your loved one may be eligible for. These resources provide counseling and care in a setting where the patient doesn’t spend the night. Although your loved one may need emergency or inpatient hospital care if he or she has an acute psychotic episode and is a danger to self or others, studies show that outpatient therapy is an appropriate and effective treatment for most people, most of the time.

The kind of outpatient setting that works best depends on your loved one’s symptoms and severity. Here are just a few of your many choices.

Day Hospitalization or Partial Hospitalization

Day hospitalization provides monitoring and care of patients in a way that’s similar to inpatient hospitalization. However, patients go home in the evening. This may be less disruptive to the person’s life and help avoid the stigma of psychiatric hospitalization.

Day hospitalization is often used instead of inpatient care if the person is having acute psychotic symptoms but is not a danger to self or others. It can also be used to transition to lower level/less acute care after an inpatient hospital stay.

Day Treatment Programs

4 Tips for Preventing a Schizophrenia Relapse

If your doctor has prescribed psychosocial therapy, make sure you participate.

Day treatment programs are less restrictive than hospitalized care. But they offer more intense and specialized therapy than other outpatient services. A day treatment program may be right if your loved one’s illness is mostly stabilized. The program can provide structure, support and treatment to help him or her prevent relapse and gradually improve social functioning.

Day treatment can also serve as a resource for caregivers, providing long-term care during the day.

Therapy Appointments

Many types of psychotherapy, including disease education, counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, social skills training, and vocational rehabilitation, can help people with schizophrenia stay on track with their treatment plan. Therapy can help them deal with persistent symptoms, continue taking their medications, reduce the risk for relapse, and improve functioning.

This therapy can take place in a variety of settings, from private offices to hospitals. Patients attend these counseling sessions with a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or other mental health professional on an appointment basis. The sessions can be done on an individual level, with family members, or in a group setting with other patients.

Assertive Community Treatment

Some states offer Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) services, which differs from traditional care. Instead of the patient going to services, mental health professionals come to the patient. A team of specialists provides around-the-clock services when necessary in the person’s own home. Services are tailored to your loved one’s needs and may include psychiatry, social work, and help with substance abuse or employment.  

The goals of ACT are to reduce symptoms, prevent relapse, improve functioning, and help people with schizophrenia live independently. This also reduces the burden on the family to provide care.   

ACT may help people with schizophrenia who have difficulty functioning, such as problems developing relationships, taking care of themselves, or getting a job. Usually, these people have not been helped by traditional services or have difficulty getting to outpatient services.

Finding Help

Although you may not be able to meet all your loved one’s needs, you can play a big part in helping to find services that can. To find outpatient services in your area, talk with your loved one’s doctor or call the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine at (800) 950-6264.

Medical Reviewers: Correll, Christoph, MD Last Review Date: Feb 28, 2014

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View Sources

Medical References

  1. Treatment Settings and Housing Options, American Psychiatric Association, Accessed Feb. 6, 2014.  http://psychiatryonline.org/guidelines.aspx

  2. Types of Mental Health Treatment Services and Providers, Community Resources Information, Accessed Feb. 7, 2014.  http://www.massresources.org/mental-disorders-treatment.html

  3. Assertive Community Treatment (ACT), National Alliance on Mental Illness, Accessed Feb. 6, 2014.  http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=ACT-TA_Center&template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cf...

  4. Resources, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Accessed Feb. 6, 2014.  http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=Schizophrenia9&Template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.c...

  5. Day hospital versus outpatient care for people with schizophrenia, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0011913/

  6. Schizophrenia, National Institutes of Mental Health, Accessed January 24, 2014.  http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/schizophrenia/index.shtml

  7. Case Management for Schizophrenia, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Accessed Feb. 6, 2014.  http://www.veteranshealthlibrary.com/RelatedItems/142,AA47542_VA

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