Resources For Families

Types of Programs

The following overview will give you a sense of the types of treatment programs that exist and whom these programs serve. Understanding the types of treatment services available can be a helpful first step to making a good treatment choice for your child. For additional help understanding your options, please visit our pages describing educational consultants and read our informative papers, written by Sunrise and InnerChange clinical staff describing a variety of adolescent emotional and behavioral issues.

While there are numerous types of programs for young people struggling with emotional and behavioral problems, they can be broadly grouped in three main categories: Intervention and Assessment, Treatment, and Transition.

Intervention and Assessment

  • What: Short-term, hospital-based psychiatric programs
  • Who: Patients who are psychotic or at immediate risk of harm to self or others
  • When: During a psychiatric emergency
  • Why: To stabilize, typically for referral to longer-term treatment


Wilderness Therapy

  • What: Short to medium term program utilizing a wilderness setting for therapeutic purposes
  • Who: Adolescents struggling with a wide range of behavioral or emotional problems
  • When: Behavioral or emotional issues are threatening the well-being of the young person and/or others
  • Why: To interrupt or end a pattern of poor choices and to assess the need for further treatment


Detoxification Program

  • What: A medical treatment center for chemical addiction
  • Who: Patients who need medical supervision in order to safely detoxify
  • When: Prior to placement in a long-term addictions treatment program
  • Why: To safely clear the system of chemicals that would impede treatment


Residential Treatment Program

  • What: A program that combines therapy, psychiatric support, and schooling
  • Who: Adolescents who are stable enough to engage a long-term program of personal growth and therapy, but who need the structure of residential care
  • When: Entrenched psychological or psychiatric issues need to be resolved for long-term well being
  • Why: To gain insights, tools, and habits necessary for lifelong mental health


Outpatient Treatment

  • What: A program that allows the young person to live at home and attend school or work during the treatment process
  • Who: Clients who are fully compliant with treatment and whose behaviors do not seriously interfere with functioning at home, school, or work
  • When: When the adolescent voluntarily seeks help with emotional issues
  • Why: To allow a least-restrictive treatment option for compliant, engaged patients


Psychiatric Hospital

  • What: A hospital for long-term psychiatric treatment
  • Who: Severely mentally or emotionally disturbed patients requiring long-term psychiatric care
  • When: When the patient requires long-term supervision, containment, and medical treatment
  • Why: To have a long-term option for severely mentally ill patients


Young Adult Program

  • What: Program with the features of long-term treatment, but designed to prepare young adults for independence
  • Who: Young adults (17+) who need a combination of treatment and life skills
  • When: When a young adult needs therapeutic and life-skills preparation for independent living or college
  • Why: To prepare young people to cope with life on their own


Step Down Programs

  • What: A lighter version of a treatment program – typically in the form of a highly structured boarding school with therapy
  • Who: Young people who are compliant with the treatment process and do not require intensive treatment
  • When: Typically following a successful wilderness or residential treatment experience
  • Why: To keep the young person in an environment that supports gains made in treatment


Day-Treatment Programs

  • What: Day programs that allow the client or patient to live at home and attend school or work
  • Who: Adolescents who need support, but possess adequate coping skills to remain at home
  • When: Typically following successful treatment
  • Why: To provide support for a successful transition home or to independence


Halfway Houses

  • What: A residential program that provides sobriety support along with access to work opportunities and normalized community involvement
  • Who: Chemically addicted clients who have had a successful treatment experience but require moderate to intensive support
  • When: Following a residential chemical dependency treatment program
  • Why: To increase probability of long-term sobriety
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