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What is Milieu Therapy?

By Sarah Sullins
Updated May 17, 2024
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Milieu therapy is a type of physiological and psychological treatment in which a patient's environment is changed to help him correct a problem in his life. The environment is made into a safe atmosphere wherein a patient does not have to experience anything that will cause stress or trigger behavioral issues. In this type of therapy, both the patient and his loved ones are taught how to cope with his psychological problems, while also learning how to help him become more independent and self-confident.

A patient who takes part in milieu therapy is usually a person who is no longer able to cope with reality. He may have this type of therapy all day long, or for only a few hours every day. Doctors, nurses, and family members will manipulate the patient's environment so it becomes a place where he can feel safe.

The patient will be encouraged to understand and recognize behavioral triggers and things that cause him pain or stress. He will then be taught different coping mechanisms to help him deal with these particular issues. In the safe, secure atmosphere, he will be able to try out these new skills to see which ones work for him and which ones do not.

Self-awareness and independence are also issues that are addressed during milieu therapy. The patient will be encouraged to bathe and take of himself. If medications will be used, he will be instructed on how to take the medicines that are prescribed by his doctor. Each patient will also help to make decisions about his own type of therapy and what he would like to see done. Patients are also taught how to correctly interact with other people in their environments as well.

Individual and group therapies are often conducted during milieu therapy as well. The individual therapy is structured to fit the needs of each particular patient. Group therapies often deal with the development of stress-relieving skills and a variety of other coping skills.

Several different types of recreation will often be provided as well, to help a person develop correct social behavior. In this way, it allows patients to interact with each other in a casual way that encourages communication. Recreational activities also provide an opportunity for milieu therapy patients to use their newly learned coping skills. These activities may include walking, jogging, weight lifting, games, and much more.

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