What to Expect From an Outpatient Program: A Guide For Parents

Caring female therapist talking with insecure teenage boy in her office.

Making the decision to seek mental health services for your child can be a difficult decision, but one that may lead to significant healing and well-being. With so many options available, however, you may have some questions. What does an outpatient program for children look like? How do I know if my child may benefit from outpatient treatment? And what can I expect from a child outpatient program? 

Branches Excel Fort Worth is here to answer your questions. From the initial assessment and intake to the eventual completion of the program, we empower you the necessary information to approach your child’s outpatient treatment with confidence.

What Is an Outpatient Program For Children?

Outpatient programs for children and adolescents provide mental health and behavioral health care in a structured and supervised environment (such as a psychjiatric facility or hospital).

In an outpatient program, your child attends regular therapy sessions and returns home at the end of them. This is unlike an inptatient program, where participants live on-site during the duration of the program. As a result, outpatient programs enable your child to still live at home and pursue their daily activities (such as their school) while still receiving care.

Outpatient programs can be used as a step down from inpatient treatment or as a standalone treatment option for children and adolescents with less severe conditions.

Generally, there are two types of outpatient programs: partial hospitalization programs (PHP) and intensive outpatient programs (IOP). Each program typically involves a combination of individualized treatment, family therapy and medication management (as needed). The goal of outpatient programs is to help children and adolescents understand their mental illness and equip them with the tools they need to boost their mental well-being.

Would My Child Benefit From Treatment?

The truth is, thanks to the flexibility and individualized treatment outpatient programs provide, anyone can benefit from outpatient treatment. However, outpatient programs may be especially beneficial to children and adolescents who:

  • Are dealing with mild to moderate mental or behavioral health issues
  • Have completed inpatient treatment and need continued support
  • Have recently undergone a stressful or traumatic event (such as the loss of a loved one or witnessing violence)
  • Need assistance managing their day-to-day mental health

What to Expect When Your Child Starts an Outpatient Program

Knowing what to expect when your child starts an outpatient program can help make the transition into treatment as smooth as possible. While programs may vary, the following are some common elements you can expect to find in an outpatient program.

Initial assessment

The first step in seeking assistance for your child’s mental health is the assessment process. During this stage, you and your child will meet with a certified mental health professional to discuss your child’s mental health history, current concerns and treatment goals. 

Based on the provided information, your mental health professional will determine several things, such as whether your child would benefit from an intensive outpatient program or partial hospitalization.

Individualized treatment plan

Based on the result of the assessment, a personalized treatment plan will be created for your child. This plan will outline the specific therapy techniques, medication (if needed) and supportive services will be a part of their treatment.

Family Involvement

Another crucial component of outpatient programs is family therapy. Research consistently shows that family involvement in mental health treatment leads to improved outcomese.

At Branches Excel Forth Worth, we strongly believe in the importance of family participation in mental health treatment. Both our IOPs and PHPs include family therapy as a vital component of our treatment plans. 

Supportive services

Watching your child struggle with their mental health can be emotionally difficult. As a result, outpatient programs may include supportive services for parents of children with mental/behavioral health issues. This may include peer support groups and educational workshops. 

These services are designed to provide you and with the resources you need to better understand and cope with your child’s mental health concerns effectively. 

Continued support

The journey doesn’t end when your child completes an outpatient program. Outpatient programs often provide continued support for your child after the program has ended. This may include follow-up therapy sessions, support groups or other resources to help your child maintain their progress and sustain long-term well-being.

Branches Excel Fort Worth Cares

Every parent hopes that their child is happy and healthy. When we see them struggling with their mental health, it can be difficult to know where to turn for help.

At Branches Excel Fort Worth, formerly the Excel Center of Fort Worth, we care about your child’s wellbeing. Located in Forth Worth, Texas, we provide outpatient treatment to children ages 5-18 in a compassionate and understanding environment.

We are here to help. Reach out at (817) 335-6429 to get in touch with us today.

If you think you or your child is experiencing a mental health crisis, call 988 or get to the nearest emergency room.

For medical emergencies, call 911 or get to the nearest emergency room.