Types of Mental Health Treatment Centers and Therapeutic Programs

There is no doubt that having a child with a mental health disorder is frightening and overwhelming. We want you to know that, regardless of the stage your child is at, there is a mental health program ready to help you.

Resources for Families

Sifting through mental health treatment centers to find the right choice for your child is daunting. Understanding the mental health service options available, and the right time to utilize each can be a helpful first step toward recovery. Regardless of the mental health disorder with which your child struggles, there is help for your family.

The following overview will give you a sense of the types of mental health treatment programs that exist and whom these programs serve. While there are numerous types of programs for young people struggling with emotional and behavioral problems, they can be broadly grouped into three main categories: Intervention and Assessment, Treatment, and Transition.

Mental Health 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 wellbeing 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 Programs

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.

Mental Health Treatment Programs

Residential Treatment Centers

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.

Transition Following Mental Health Treatment

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.

Therapeautic Boarding Schools

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 House

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.

New Haven is a residential treatment center for adolescent girls ages 13-18. Most students come to New Haven after one or more inpatient treatment stays, partial hospitalization (day treatment), substance abuse treatment, or wilderness therapy. 

We treat a variety of mental illness, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, substance abuse, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, anxiety, self-harm, and eating disorders. We are an evidence-based treatment center, which means that we use outcomes data to guide the therapeutic process.

Most of our students return home to live with their families upon discharge from New Haven. We will help you find treatment services in your area to ease the transition home, such as outpatient therapy or an intensive outpatient program, to ensure lasting change.

There is no doubt that having a child with a mental health disorder is frightening and overwhelming. We want you to know that, regardless of the stage your child is at, there is a mental health program ready to help you.

Additional Resources

If New Haven is not the right fit for your family, these resources might help you find a mental health treatment center that is right for you:

• SAMHSA Treatment Finder

• Independent Education Consultants Association

 Psychology Today Therapist Directory

We’re Here to Help

If you feel that your daughter would benefit from care at a residential treatment center, contact us at 855.834.2594 or click on the button below. We will help you assess the level of care that your daughter needs and identify your next steps.