What Is Involved in Inpatient Therapy?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 10 January 2020
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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Inpatient therapy offers 24 hour care to patients who need intensive treatment and monitoring. This may be necessary in the early stages of treatment, when patients are most in need of intervention and can be at a high risk of relapse. As people respond to treatment, they may transition to a day or part time program, and eventually to a fully outpatient therapy plan. This type of treatment is available for mental health conditions, drug and alcohol addiction, and physical recovery from severe illnesses and injuries.

Facilities that offer inpatient therapy typically require an intake session before treatment can start. Care providers may need a copy of the patient’s medical record to review it before the session. During the intake process, the care provider can interview the patient to determine if the facility can offer the added level of care. For example, if a patient has an eating disorder that requires substantial medical interventions like a feeding tube, a residential treatment center might not have the facilities to adequately care for the patient.

Intake interviews also provide an opportunity to start developing a patient profile and treatment plan. If the patient is accepted for inpatient therapy, a facilitator may assign a case manager to supervise the patient throughout the stay. Patients are assigned beds and a schedule. Schedules can include group and individual therapy sessions along with meals, activities, and free time to encourage patients to socialize and interact.


Some patients receiving inpatient therapy may need skilled nursing services. People recovering from severe injuries, for instance, could require dressing changes, medication management, and other forms of medical treatment. At the same time, they may benefit from physical therapy, psychotherapy, and other options available at the center. The regimen is customized to the needs of the patient and may be adjusted as the patient responds.

Patients may be asked to sign an agreement or contract as part of inpatient therapy. This outlines behavioral rules in the facility and provides information about who to contact in an emergency or if problems arise. This contract can become part of the therapeutic process, particularly for people with mental illness, and may expand or change over time with agreement from both sides. A patient might, for example, use the contract to set up a buddy agreement to call a friend if the desire to self-harm develops.

Violations of an agreement can be grounds to remove a patient from care. The facility may offer a referral to another inpatient therapy program that can provide treatment. Referrals are also typically provided in the event a program can’t meet a patient’s needs, or when a patient graduates and no longer requires a level of therapy this intensive.



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