Is Outpatient Treatment Enough?

Outpaitent Enough Photov2
by Natalie Gornstein, LICSW

Seeking a higher level of care for your eating disorder can be a very difficult and courageous decision.  Ideally there is much consideration of which program is a good fit for your needs but sometimes the options may be limited. Regardless, your outpatient team can play an important role as you transition into and out of this next level of care.   There are typically several options for increased support during your recovery: residential, inpatient, day treatment or partial hospital, intensive outpatient or group programs.  No matter which next step you are taking, your outpatient team can help facilitate this process.

Prior to admission the outpatient providers can contact the program or group leader to relay important clinical information that would be helpful in getting to know the client.  The outpatient team can also discuss goals for entering this next step in treatment, which can assist the program or group and the client make the most out of this valuable time.   Identifying goals early on in treatment is critical to a good treatment outcome.

Optimally the outpatient treatment team will be routinely updated regarding the client’s progress in treatment. Each program or level of care may have its own policy regarding a client’s contact with the outpatient team during treatment.

As the time comes to start the transition back to the community, the outpatient treatment team should be included in this process.   Ideally the outpatient therapist or nutritionist can attend, in person or via conference call or Skype, a discharge or transition of care meeting.  In this meeting, progress made towards goals is usually discussed as well as identifying areas for continued growth. Outpatient appointments should be scheduled in advance in order to avoid a lapse in care during the transition.

At CNC 360 our clinicians have experience in helping with these transitions. It is important to recognize when the outpatient team is unable to provide enough support to help the patient progress toward his or her goals. We wholeheartedly endorse the idea that seeking a higher level of care doesn’t necessarily represent a failure in outpatient treatment but rather another step in the journey toward recovery.