Upon seeing a mental health specialist, we are often unclear about what brought us there, our purpose for seeing them, and our goals for the future. One method mental health professionals use to help both you and they guide your healing journey is to form a treatment plan.
But what is a treatment plan?
This article will explore this question and provide information on treatment plans and some of the people involved in your healing. After reading this article, you will see just how vital a treatment plan is to help you travel the road less taken.
What is a Treatment Plan?
Mental health professionals do not work without a guide that allows them to assess your needs and strategize the methods they need to use to help you. Instead, they use a treatment plan.
A treatment plan is a document outlining the proposed goals, plan, and therapy method to be used by you and your professional. This plan directs the steps the mental health professional, and you must take to help you heal.
Treatment plans are either formalized or less structured depending on many factors, including:
The professional’s preferences. Some mental health professionals prefer informal treatment plans because they are more effective, but others prefer a more formal style and work in an orderly fashion.
The severity of the problem. Mental health professionals must evaluate the severity of the presenting problem individually. For instance, one client may be dealing with minor depression and not need as an extensive plan as someone who has struggled with major depression for many years with little progress.
Insurance company requirements. Often insurance companies require documentation of your diagnosis and treatment to cover your care. This requirement is best met through a treatment plan.
Treatment plans are always subject to change as the mental health professional you have chosen gets to know you and your treatment progresses. Since the treatment plan breaks down into steps what concerns you, it is pliable changing to match your changing needs.
The Parts of a Treatment Plan
A good treatment plan will guide you and your mental health professional in discovering what is causing you problems, your goals for healing, and techniques you are both going to try together.
Your treatment plan may involve the following parts.
History, demographics, and assessment. This part of the treatment plan includes basic demographic information, psychosocial history, when symptoms began, treatment in the past, and other pertinent information necessary for treatment.
The presenting problem. This part is a brief description of your core issue or issues.
A treatment contract. This agreed-upon plan summarizes the goals for change that will be sought. A treatment contract usually details who is responsible for what and what treatment modality will be used.
The goals of your therapy. The treatment plan will include a list of short-term and long-term goals of your therapy. Goals are the building blocks of treatment plans are designed to be specific, realistic, and tailored to the client’s needs. Goals are usually measurable such as using rating scales or behavioral tracking.
Objectives of therapy. Objectives are the how’s of goals. Objectives break down treatment into achievable steps to meeting goals.
Methods to be used. This part involves a shortlist of techniques that the mental health professional will use to achieve the goals of the treatment plan.
A time estimate. A brief appraisal of the length of time or the number of sessions you may need.
Progress and outcomes of therapy. Documenting your progress toward meeting your goals is one of the most essential parts of a mental health treatment plan. Progress and outcomes are typically listed under each goal so that when treatment is reviewed, the progress section summarizes how things are going in therapy in and outside of sessions. Progress and outcomes will intersect with the clinician’s progress notes.
One can see how these parts of a treatment plan can radically change as a person in treatment gets better or even if they have a relapse. While not all practitioners utilize treatment plans, they should because they offer professionals and their clients a visual representation of the healing that is about to occur. Also, a treatment plan allows the professional to see what is not working quickly to find a solution.
The Purpose of a Treatment Plan
The primary purpose of a treatment plan is to lead a patient towards reaching their therapeutic goals and allow therapists to monitor their client’s progress. A treatment plan can help a mental health professional adjust the treatment they are offering.
It is easier to think of a treatment plan as a map of your healing journey, and without that map, the professional and their client have no clear path to healing. Research has shown that focusing and structuring are critical parts of the outcomes of therapy and a treatment plan offers just that.
Setting goals in a treatment plan helps clients to:
- Stay motivated
- Concentrate better
- Avoid confusion
- Set priorities
- Achieve more healing
- Boost their self-confidence
- Avoid feeling completely overwhelmed
To summarize, a treatment plan is a road map to healing to aid in weaving one’s way through the maze of healing.
Why are Treatment Plans Important?
Treatment plans may seem abstract and not worthy of your notice since therapists, and other mental health professionals primarily create them. However, it is critical to understand your treatment plan and its importance to your healing journey.
Treatment plans are essential for your mental health care for many reasons; one treatment that professionals who do not rely on them are at risk for fraud, abuse and could potentially cause harm to you. By implementing a treatment plan, both you and your provider are ensured that all involved parties have a clear understanding of progress made and the long-term goal of the treatment.
Treatment plans can also be critical for getting your treatment paid for, as many insurance companies require them for payment. Some managed care organizations require treatment plans to be completed showing the most recent updates to them, meaning treatment plans must be formed and updated periodically every 30 to 100 days.
Ending Our Time Together
Treatment plans are a vital tool for both mental health professionals and their clients as they allow for the documentation of the healing process. Without a treatment plan in place, therapists are left floundering around going any direction which can lead to either the treatment not being paid by insurance, dangerous behavior on the part of the therapist, or both.
You have the right and obligation to view your treatment plan every so often to make sure what you are trying to achieve in treatment aligns with what your mental health professional has for you.
In the following article, we shall examine the treatment team that forms and writes your treatment plan and the responsibilities of each.
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” ~ Mary Engelbreit
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” ~ Reinhold Niebuhr
If you or a loved one live in the despair and isolation that comes with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, please, come to us for help. CPTSD Foundation offers a wide range of services, including:
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My name is Shirley Davis and I am a freelance writer with over 40-years- experience writing short stories and poetry. Living as I do among the corn and bean fields of Illinois (USA), working from home using the Internet has become the best way to communicate with the world. My interests are wide and varied. I love any kind of science and read several research papers per week to satisfy my curiosity. I have earned an Associate Degree in Psychology and enjoy writing books on the subjects that most interest me.
I appreciate your article. It is informative and the tone is warm and inviting.
I am about six weeks away from my 69th birthday. I have lived my entire adulthood with CPTSD–alone. Finally, I am researching therapy options. Your writing has encouraged me to take that initial first step and commit to permitting someone else to “help” me. This is revolutionary!
I have a doctorate (in process of writing my dissertation). I am also a writer as is my beloved husband. We write together and produce a magazine for residents of nursing homes (30 pages) every month. We cover most every subject. I say this to ask a question, am I brave enough to touch on subjects such as this. Do seniors want to read about this subject? What if they are like me? Are they hobbling through life, never knowing true freedom. Should I leave well enough alone? It seems, personally, that I am being forced to address trauma along the path of my life even at this late stage. Ugh!
Thank you, though. I needed that gentle nudge. I am going to get the care I have needed for so long.
Best Wishes to you and yours.
Pardon the typos. No editing feature prior to publishing.
I am grateful you read my article and got so much out of it. It warms my heart that someone was moved to seek help. I am truly humbled.
As someone who has lived in a nursing home for over seven years, I have a unique perspective to answer your questions. People who live in nursing homes would enjoy your story but they may not apply it to themselves. Being institutionalized you normally are only concerned with day-to-day life and don’t think about the future. Some people in the nursing home may take you up on what you are telling them though, so I’m not trying to discourage you at all. Instead, I am trying to warn you that you may not get the response you would like. Shirley
I work with older adults in the community and I wonder if your addressing this topic with community dwelling adults would receive more interest. Issues around trauma come up in groups that I facilitate and I know that the pandemic has brought more to the surface. Senior Centers have newsletters and often they welcome guest articles. Just a thought.