What Do People Look For When Choosing a Treatment Center?
Amy Lashway, MA, LPC, NCC
With so many options in treatment available these days, choosing the best possible clinical fit in a treatment center can be a complicated process, even for mental health and addiction professionals. This is one reason why Treatment Coordination and Advocacy offers a treatment placement service in which we serve as the Treatment Coordinator for clients and their families, collaborating with referents such as therapists, psychiatrists, interventionists and after care coordinators. The following is a list of questions I ask when interviewing treatment centers, please feel free to share:
- What is the total cost including all ancillary charges such as medications, psychiatric visits, room and board, transportation, family programs and psychological testing, massage, acupuncture, detox, family program? Will the client be facing a lot of unanticipated fees?
- What is your refund policy?
- Do you take insurance as a form of payment? If not, but you help seek reimbursement, is your UR department very aggressive in that area?
- How many clients can you accommodate at one time, what is your current census and what are the current ages of your clients?
- What does your pre-admission screening consist of and how will I know if my client is a good fit for your program?
- What is the client to staff ratio?
- How many hours of individual therapy or counseling do clients receive each week?
- How many hours of group psychotherapy (groups led by doctors, therapists or credentialed drug and alcohol counselors) do clients receive each week?
- How many hours of additional therapeutic activities do the clients receive each week (recreational outings, yoga, meditation, 12-step, exercise)?
- What is the therapeutic orientation or philosophy of your program?
- What therapeutic modalities are available to your clients (DBT, Motivational Interviewing, art therapy, psychodrama, Somatic Experiencing, EMDR, spirituality, 12-steps, etc.)?
- What are some of the topics/issues addressed in the psychotherapy groups and what are the credentials of the staff who lead them?
- What are the qualifications and training of your clinicians, psych techs or milieu counselors?
- How soon after admission do clients see the psychiatrist and how often are they seen for follow up appointments?
- If this is an addictions program, is your psychiatrist and Medical Director an addictionologist?
- How do meals work? Can you accommodate special diets?
- How many clients per room?
- Is there 24 hour staff supervision?
- What is the minimum, average and maximum length of stay?
- Are 12-step meetings required? If so how many per week and are clients required to get a temporary sponsor?
- How is your program licensed or accredited?
Of course, there are many other possible questions, but these are good to start with. I encourage my clients to ask each program the same questions so they can truly compare apples to apples. Proceed with caution if the intake specialist is unable to answer these questions specifically or unwilling to direct you to someone who can. I am also cautious about programs that do not offer a preliminary pre-admission assessment that looks at dual diagnosis issues and acuity.
If you have a client who is in need of residential treatment and you would like help in finding the best treatment center for their needs from clinical, personality, geographical and financial standpoints, consider referring them to Treatment Coordination and Advocacy. We work collaboratively with referents to offer the most seamless process possible.