What is the Difference Between Inpatient and Residential Mental Health Treatment?


Inpatient vs Residential Treatment It is critical that caretakers and family members become informed of the many different treatment options available …

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Inpatient vs Residential Treatment

It is critical that caretakers and family members become informed of the many different treatment options available for their loved ones. With many services available to the public, the truth is that you ultimately get what you pay for.  Families with loved ones suffering from mental illness want the best possible treatment at a reasonable price.  This is why all treatment options must be reviewed and assessed before ultimately choosing your provider.

When it comes to mental health treatment, there are a variety of different levels of care that a patient may seek. An option such as outpatient is the most common, and partial hospitalization (or day treatment) is also a common treatment option for those who don’t require 24/7 monitoring. Conversely, those with severe mental health issues are usually placed into either inpatient or residential treatment programs in order to ensure that they receive the care that is necessary for their condition. However, contrary to what you might believe, inpatient and residential types of treatment is not the same thing. Additionally, the costs and quality of treatment for different levels of care can vary drastically.  What exactly warrants such diverse costs and quality of care?  As it turns out, there are actually some key differences between inpatient vs residential treatment. Here’s a closer look:

What is Inpatient Treatment?

Inpatient treatment is the most intensive level of treatment, offering 24-hour care in a secure unit of a treatment facility or hospital. This treatment option is best for those with severe mental health issues, who need constant monitoring for the sake of their own safety and well-being. The main goal of inpatient treatment is to stabilize symptoms while developing a continuing treatment plan so that the patient can receive the care he or she needs in a less intensive setting. Inpatient treatment programs are generally short-term, usually ranging from a few days to a week.

What is Residential Treatment? 

Residential treatment is a step down from inpatient treatment. While there is structure and some monitoring to treatment, the big difference between residential and inpatient treatment involves the setting in which it is carried out. While inpatient treatment is typically carried out in a treatment facility or hospital, residential treatment is usually carried out in more of a home-like environment.

The medical staff assists patients in residential settings, but not on the all-day, every-day magnitude of inpatient treatment. Because of this, many patients that exit inpatient treatment will be placed into residential environments. One thing to note, however, is that residential treatment can be permanent if the individual doesn’t respond to administered treatment.

Key Differences

As you can see, the key differences in inpatient and residential treatment are the intensity of the treatment and environment where treatment is carried out in. Inpatient treatment consists of 24/7 monitoring, while residential treatment consists of monitoring, but not quite on a 24/7 intensity. In terms of environment, residential is a more comfortable, home-like setting, where inpatient consists of a secure part of a hospital.

Another key difference between residential vs inpatient treatment is the length of treatment. Keep in mind that most people that seek treatment for mental health issues are treated on an outpatient basis, in which they attend regular meetings – usually 2-3 times per week – to receive the counseling and support to help them deal with their issues. While inpatient treatment is usually short-term, residential treatment has the potential to be ongoing – it all depends on how an individual responds to treatment.

The Villa Orlando and Pasadena Villa’s Smoky Mountain Lodge are adult intensive psychiatric residential treatment centers for clients with serious mental illnesses. We also provide other individualized therapy programs, step-down residential programs, and less intensive mental health services, such as Community Residential Homes, Supportive Housing, Day Treatment Programs, and Life Skills training.

For most people, their stay averages at about 3 or 4 months of intensive residential care. This is typically followed by about 6 to 9 months of supervised living in a “step down” setting at one of our several levels of community housing.

With that said, we do not run a “90-day” or “year-long” or any other predetermined length of stay for an individualized program. The length of stay is determined based on progress and is defined by the resident’s treatment team. This team consists of the resident, the resident’s family, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, nurses & the other supporting professionals at Pasadena Villa.

Pasadena Villa’s Outpatient Center in Raleigh, North Carolina offers partial hospitalization (PHP) and an intensive outpatient program (PHP). If you or someone you know may need mental health services, please complete our contact form or call us at 877-845-5235 for more information.



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If you’re ready to take the next step in the recovery process for you or your loved one, the compassionate team at Pasadena Villa is here to help. Give us a call at 877.845.5235 or complete our contact form.

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