What Are the Pros and Cons of Outpatient Therapy?

Nick Mann
Nick Mann
An outpatient physical therapy session.
An outpatient physical therapy session.

Outpatient therapy is generally defined as a treatment program, such as drug rehabilitation, mental health counseling or physical therapy, where a person gets treatment, but goes home at the end of each day. While this form of treatment is beneficial for some people, it may not be so advantageous for others. To get a better understanding of outpatient therapy, it's helpful to know what both the pros and cons are. Some pros include lower costs with insurance coverage, the option for working or attending school and privacy. Some possible cons include increased temptations for drug rehabilitation patients and less of a support system.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of outpatient therapy is the lower costs. For individuals who pay for some or all of therapy with insurance, the costs are usually significantly lower for outpatient therapy as opposed to inpatient therapy. This is mainly because a patient doesn't receive around the clock care and doesn't live at a facility. People enrolled in long-term therapy sessions typically benefit the most from the lower costs involved.

The option to work or attend school while receiving therapy is also a benefit of outpatient therapy. Coming into a facility for treatment allows a person to tend to other areas of life while simultaneously being rehabilitated. With inpatient therapy, the process of rehabilitation can take up almost all one's time and can have negative impacts on work, school and social activities.

Along with this, a person can attend rehab sessions while still enjoying the comforts of home at the end of the day. For some people, being stuck in a facility with strangers can produce anxiety and make the rehabilitation process more difficult. At-home treatment is different because an individual can attend sessions and still go home to a comfortable setting.

In addition, there is an added level of privacy with at-home treatment. For example, if a person is receiving therapy for clinical depression, he would be able to get help without bosses, coworkers and other individuals knowing. With inpatient therapy, a prolonged absence might create suspicions and jeopardize a person's privacy.

While there are some definite positives of outpatient therapy, there are some disadvantages as well. One drawback is the increased temptations that often surround a person in drug rehab. With inpatient therapy, a drug abuser usually has no access to drugs or alcohol, which tends to make it easier to recover. During outpatient therapy, an abuser will often have easier access to drugs or alcohol which usually makes it more difficult to recover.

Another downside is that outpatient therapy often has less of a support system. While there is still a support system in outpatient therapy, it may be less accessible once a patient returns home. For example, if an elderly person is experiencing health issues after physical therapy, his symptoms could worsen without consistent monitoring from a professional. Inpatient therapy is sometimes better for certain conditions because a patient is surrounded with support all day, every day.

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    • An outpatient physical therapy session.
      An outpatient physical therapy session.