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What Is Rehab?

Kayla Gill
 February 6th, 2022|   Clinically Reviewed by 
Olivia Mueller

Rehabilitation, often just “rehab” for short, refers to a program or a facility where people can receive treatment for various addictions and mental health conditions.

Rehab is a place of restoration for a person who is seeking recovery from addiction and/or a mental health condition. Rehab is not just for the financially elite or those who get into legal trouble. In fact, it is usually voluntary, although it can be court ordered. Those who attend rehab are often referred to as clients or patients, or sometimes guests. Clients are given professional assistance, resources, space and tools to process their addiction and/or mental health condition(s).

What Is Residential Rehab?

Residential rehab is a live-in facility that provides a space for clients to recover from their addiction and/or mental health condition without being distracted from daily life activities and obligations.

Residential rehab works best for someone who is seeking 24/7 support to focus on long-lasting recovery. Typical days include psychoeducation, group therapy sessions, individual counseling, activities, leisure time, and, of course, meals. Weekends tend to be more flexible with more leisure time or family visits.

What Is Inpatient Treatment?

Inpatient treatment can be synonymous with residential treatment. It can also be located at a hospital and available for when a person is experiencing severe symptoms from an addiction and/or mental health condition and needs immediate assistance and 24/7 monitoring. For addiction, a person may go through detox to rid toxins from the body while they are in the hospital. For mental health conditions, a person will be evaluated by a psychiatrist and discuss a treatment plan.

What Is PHP or Day Treatment?

Partial Hospitalization (PHP), or day treatment, is when a person attends a treatment program due to experiencing symptoms from an addiction and/or mental health condition but lives elsewhere. PHP usually takes place post discharge from an inpatient stay to help the individual adjust back to daily life while still remaining in treatment. Another way to think about PHP is it’s like a full-time (35+ hours per week) outpatient program.

What Is Outpatient Treatment?

Outpatient treatment works best for individuals who need an option that allows them to maintain daily obligations or for as continued support for individuals stepping down from residential care. Treatment often takes place during the evening, but there are day programs as well.

An intensive outpatient program (IOP) is a type of outpatient treatment with fewer treatment hours than PHP and more treatment hours than traditional outpatient treatment. It’s part-time, about 10 to 15 hours per week, while traditional outpatient treatment may meet just once or twice a week.

Typical Treatment Methods

While treatment looks different per provider, here are some typical treatment methods and approaches:

12-Step Treatment

Alcoholics Anonymous created the 12 Steps as a method or approach to assist people who are seeking restoration and recovery from alcohol. While a person can “work the Steps” through free support groups and the help of a sponsor, treatment providers may have a 12-Steps based curriculum and incorporate support meetings into the weekly schedule. The 12 Steps help a person focus on themes like accountability, higher authority, meditation, forgiveness, and service.

Non-12-Step Treatment

Non-12-Step treatment approaches can include holistic therapies or evidence-based therapies (that is, those with scientific research supporting their effectiveness). Often the focus is more on the cognitive aspect of recovery, while 12-Step may be considered to have a spiritual focus.

Holistic Treatment

The holistic approach focuses on bringing the body, mind and spirit together in pursuit of wholeness. This treatment approach often focuses on exercise, meditation and nutrition.

One-on-One Counseling

Therapists can use a number of therapies during an individual counseling session. Here are just a few:

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT is a type of psychotherapy treatment that professionals use to help clients process feelings, thoughts and behavior. CBT is a talk therapy.

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)

DBT is a type of psychotherapy treatment based on cognitive behavioral therapy, but more focused on emotions and social aspects.

Motivational Interviewing

Motivational Interviewing (MI), and similarly Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET), is a type of counseling approach that professionals use to help clients discover internal motivation to help them process ambivalent feelings and change their behavior.

Medication Assisted Treatment 

A number of prescribed medications can help a person toward their recovery goals. Some medications act similarly to the drug of choice, while others block drug effects. One example is someone taking prescribed methadone to help alleviate opioid withdrawal symptoms and help the person lead a lifestyle that is helpful in the community.

Group Therapy

Group Therapy is a type of psychotherapy treatment that professionals use to provide therapy to clients as a group. There may be more than one treatment provider guiding the group. Group therapy produces a sense of community and understanding that others face similar difficulties.

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