Compassion Recovery Centers and Joint Commission

How Can Outpatient Treatment Help Heal My Trauma

a male client consulting if he is a Good Candidate for Telehealth Mental Health Treatment

If you’ve been through a traumatic event or series of events, therapy is an important next step. That’s true even if you’re not struggling with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Trauma can greatly affect your behavior, your stress response, and your ability to engage with the world, even if you’re not aware of it. Actively taking time to seek out mental health help can ensure that you have the tools to move beyond trauma. That means taking steps to acknowledge that trauma, process it, find coping mechanisms, and work to give yourself the space you need around it.

Outpatient treatment is one way you can get that help. Here, it’s important to talk to your counselor or therapist to discuss which form of therapy might be important for you. Outpatient treatment might allow you to get the help you need without taking time away from home and responsibilities.

What is Outpatient Treatment?

Outpatient treatment is a form of mental health treatment where you come into a treatment center multiple days per week to receive therapy. Here, you’ll normally have a schedule designed around either a full-time job or childcare. That will mean you’ll go to treatment in the evenings, in the mornings, in the afternoons when the kids are in school, or on the weekends. In each case, you can expect anywhere from 3-5 hours of treatment per day. You can also normally expect that treatment includes the same approaches as an inpatient program, you just go home every day. In most cases, you’ll also get fewer group activities and entertainment, because you’ll primarily be going into the clinic for treatment.

  • 3-5 hours of therapy per day 3-5 days per week
  • Schedule organized around life schedule
  • Group therapy and treatment
  • One-on-one time with your therapist and counselors

How can that help you to recover from trauma? Often it will depend on where you’re at in your journey of recovery. In addition, you’ll always want to talk to your doctor and therapist to determine if outpatient care does meet your needs.

Making Space for Yourself

One of the hardest parts of going to therapy is setting time aside and going to treatment. If you need intensive care like an outpatient program, you likely are choosing that over an inpatient program. Often, that’s because you have work, childcare, pet care, or other responsibilities. In some cases, you’ll be recommended into outpatient care by your doctor because it’s cost-effective and because it will work for your needs. However, it often means you need to learn how to set aside time for yourself and to prioritize your mental health. Outpatient treatment is a step down from a full inpatient mental health program and that makes it more accessible. At the same time, it will teach you to make space for your mental health by asking you to take time out of your day every day and to make a routine of it. That will, eventually, translate to routines that you can continue carrying through at home, because are you starting them at home.

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Getting Professional Help

Outpatient treatment means you are taking time out of your day all or most days a week to talk to a mental health professional. That means you’ll have a therapist and probably a counselor there to help you work through your specific and personal problems including the underlying cause of trauma, your coping mechanisms, your behavioral responses, and how to improve those coping mechanisms in the future. It means you’ll have professional help to unpack trauma, how you deal with it, and to help you not only accept it and move on but to also build the skills to better cope with life in the future. That will ensure you can move towards coping and healing from trauma.

peers sharing experiences

Connecting to Peers

Going into an outpatient treatment center means you’ll be in group therapy, you’ll be around peers, and you’ll be introduced to people going through similar life experiences to your own. That will give you insight, third-party perspective, and the ability to understand which parts of how you cope with trauma are you and which parts are just trauma. Taking that step and seeing how others are handling trauma can be eye-opening, because it can make you realize that things you thought were “you” are just trauma and that you can give that space, you can move on, and you can figure out ways that are you to deal with it.

Today’s trauma therapy often involves working with peers because it means you can get and receive support from people who have a better understanding of what you’re going through. That isn’t always true. However, it does mean you will get the benefit of talking to people who have experienced traumatic events, who are receiving the same treatment you are, and who can share and talk about their coping mechanisms and how those work and do not work. That can be an immensely valuable part of your recovery process and it can mean you have a better support group to lean on even after you move out of therapy. That same process of learning how to ask for support from your peers and learning how to share in a group will also translate to sharing with friends and family, because the skills are the same.

Integrating Coping Skills into Your Life

One of the large benefits of going to outpatient treatment rather than inpatient treatment is that you immediately start working the things you’re learning into your everyday life. That means you’ll have to immediately start applying trauma coaching and therapy to your life. This approach can backfire if your trauma and trauma response are bad enough that you don’t benefit from treatment without having a break in responsibilities and a break from your everyday life. At the same time, your therapist and counselor should be able to help you with that and will recommend you into more intensive care if you need it. This means that you’ll go to treatment, you’ll have therapy to work on behavior, responses, and how you feel, and then you’ll directly be able to apply those to the world around you.

Most importantly, you’ll keep coming back into therapy, so you can talk about how things went, what went well, what went wrong, and how you can adapt, practice, and continue what you’re learning as you step outside of the treatment center every day. That will be more work than learning coping mechanisms and learning to heal in a safe environment. However, it will also mean you’ll directly apply your therapy and treatment as a practical part of your life.

Getting Help

If you’ve experienced trauma, it’s important to talk about it. Going to therapy, talking to a therapist, getting counseling, and getting structured and professional support can be a very important part of that healing process. Outpatient treatment offers a more intensive and more structured approach, giving you daily support, daily ways to work on trauma, and a daily space to heal from that trauma. Outpatient treatment isn’t right for everyone but it can be a powerful part of your recovery. If you’re considering outpatient care, start a discussion with your doctor or reach out to us for a consultation so you can make sure your treatment meets your needs.
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