What is a Residential Treatment Program?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 16 June 2018
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A residential treatment program is a live-in program intended to help individuals work through and receive treatment for a wide range of problems. For example, residential treatment programs may treat people who have alcohol and drug abuse problems. This type of program may also be used in the treatment of eating disorders. In fact, this type of live-in program may even be used to help people work through some types of behavioral and mental health issues.

Each residential treatment program may be different, but they all have the live-in aspect of treatment in common. Instead of being treated at an outpatient center and then going home until the next scheduled session, people live in these centers while treatment proceeds. This may help some to avoid temptations and people who may interfere with their treatment until they are able to deal with being at home once more. On the downside, however, people receiving treatment at these centers may miss their families and their own homes.


While living at a residential treatment center, a person may receive a wide range of care. For example, he may receive help detoxing from a drug addiction and undergo therapy to help him stay sober. Twelve-step programs are also common in residential treatment programs. Often therapy takes place in the form of both individual counseling and group counseling with others in the treatment center. In some cases, a resident’s family members or other loved ones may be invited to participate in counseling with the resident as well.

In many cases, a residential treatment program will also provide opportunities for residents to better themselves, such as through educational programs and vocational skill-building opportunities. Sometimes these programs help people improve their social skills as well. Physical activity is often encouraged in a residential treatment program, and activities may be organized to ensure that residents exercise and stay healthy. Community activities and healthy forms of entertainment may be planned as well.

A residential treatment program may be housed a hospital-like setting that has health care professionals and other staff members on call 24 hours a day. Sometimes, however, these programs are housed in more comfortable, home-like facilities. This type of facility may have staff members available day and night, but tends to provide a more relaxed atmosphere. The needs and preferences of the patient are typically considered in deciding which type of center will be the best choice.



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