Benefits of Residential Treatment

Residential care works.

 We believe in the proven effectiveness of supportive therapeutic communities for people coping with mental health issues.

While varying in style, residential facilities share the following core practices, each practice proven to promote healing that is more likely to be sustained: 

  • Every resident is seen as a unique individual with strengths and weaknesses (like the rest of us), and is accepted and appreciated for who they are, rather than being viewed as a “case” or a “patient.” 
  • Growth occurs in small steps, the product of individualized goals. A major goal of all residential facilities is to develop a wide range of habits of self-care, from personal hygiene and taking meds to resting and asking for help.  
  • A high level of supportive structure is built into daily life. All residential facilities help residents establish normal, stabilizing routines for day and night.
  • Residents take responsibility for their behavior since it affects others.
  • Residents contribute to the community in some way, which boosts self-esteem. 
  • Residents support one another, forming relationships
  • Quality of life is stressed, which includes meaningful activity and nurturing relationships.

 Taken together and working synergistically, these practices create a powerful therapeutic community – a healing environment that only exists in a residential setting.

The alternatives to residential care often don’t work.

Residential psychiatric care is a positive alternative to the less productive route that typically starts with a hospital stay. After managing the acute crisis that triggers the admission, hospitals usually do not offer patients enough structure, despite the fact that the majority of people with serious psychiatric disorders do best with a high degree of structure. Equally important, the typical psychiatric hospital stay is not long enough for a patient to develop the necessary skills and habits to function well.

It is well documented that, following discharge from the hospital, many ex-patients do not take advantage of outpatient mental health services, tending to withdraw from these services over time. Nor do the services, themselves, provide the level of structure and protection necessary for a person on the “outside.”

Once discharged, the person typically returns to an isolated lifestyle, either at home, in the community, or on the street. While social isolation may feel comfortable and familiar, it is a negative force that not only impedes the person’s growth toward mental health, but often sends them sliding backwards. 

For many people, there is also the issue of medication. Chances are, the patient was discharged from the hospital when they were not yet willing or not yet able (or both) to take their medication regularly. But outpatient services often do not effectively monitor the taking of medication, certainly not over the long haul.  Now add the fact that former patients engage less and less with these services over time – and monitoring becomes non-existent.

When a person returns home from a psychiatric hospitalization, the burden of responsibility often falls on the family to provide daily structure and to monitor the taking of medication. Since there is often a history of stressful relations between the family and the troubled person over these very issues, the family’s attempts to help can add to the strain on all involved.

In this isolated and almost treatment-free state, the person’s level of functioning deteriorates. Medication use grows sporadic and often stops.  The stage is now set for another hospitalization. In all this time, little or no progress toward growth or recovery has taken place.

There is a high dollar cost for this unproductive cycle. But the human cost is huge – a person who could have quality of life and make a contribution to society is caught in a loop that prevents them from functioning better. . . or even flourishing.

Residential care offers you a way out of this unproductive cycle. It offers you proven resources and approaches for leading a better life.


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ARTA -- The American Residential Treatment Association
Hope • Community • Healing