What is Outpatient Therapy? Unveiling the Benefits and What to Expect

What is outpatient therapy? Read on to explore its key benefits and discover what makes it the perfect choice for holistic healing and recovery.

Find Integrative Treatment at Black Horse Health With Our Outpatient Therapy Options

At Black Horse Health, we understand how overwhelming unmanaged symptoms of mental health and substance use disorders can be.

Our team of skilled and compassionate specialists have over 100 years of combined experience, and we are committed to helping you or your loved one lead a fulfilling life uninhibited by symptoms of mental health or addiction challenges.

With comprehensive wellness services including group therapy sessions, regular monitoring and check-ins, and structured treatment plans, we will create a path to recovery that best meets your unique set of needs, goals, and experiences.

Harness the Power of Wellness

Learn more about outpatient therapy options, other treatment opportunities, and how our Black Horse Health team of specialists can help you heal in this comprehensive article.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to our team for more information or to begin your path to wellness today.

what is outpatient therapy

What Is Outpatient Therapy?

There are multiple types of care available for individuals who need mental health or substance use disorder support. One of these options is outpatient therapy. But just what is outpatient therapy?

Outpatient therapy refers to any therapeutic service provided to patients who are not hospitalized or admitted to an inpatient facility. These services can include counseling, psychotherapy, and psychiatric consultations. They can also include other mental, emotional, and behavioral health treatments.1

Outpatient therapy offers many advantages that make it a fundamental part of mental healthcare. Some of these include:

Accessibility and Flexibility

One of the most significant advantages of outpatient therapy is its accessibility and flexibility. Outpatient services allow individuals to maintain many of their daily responsibilities while receiving treatment.

This makes it more practical for individuals who may find it challenging to commit to the hours and intensity of an inpatient program. These challenges may be due to time, finances, or other obligations.

Continuity of Care

Another advantage of outpatient therapy is that it provides continuity of care after an individual finishes inpatient care or other therapy sessions.
Patients can establish a long-term relationship with their therapists or healthcare providers. This allows for more personalized and effective treatment plans.
Consistent therapy sessions can yield better insights into an individual’s mental state. As a result, adjustments to treatment are more responsive and targeted.

Diverse Treatment Options

Outpatient settings often offer a diverse range of therapy options. It usually includes a blend of traditional psychotherapy and more specialized services.

When coming to us at Black Horse Health for outpatient therapy, for instance, individuals may receive a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), art therapy, and nutritional counseling and support.

This allows for a more personalized treatment plan that can cater to the unique needs and symptoms of each individual.


What is outpatient therapy and how does its cost compare to other treatment options? Compared to inpatient treatment, outpatient therapy is generally more cost-effective. This makes it more accessible to people who might not have extensive healthcare coverage.
It also makes it the ideal choice for those without the financial means for prolonged inpatient care. Since outpatient care doesn’t require around-the-clock care or a lengthy stay at a facility, this option provides many more options for cost-efficient care.

Stigma Reduction

Despite continued efforts to destigmatize mental health or substance use treatment, there is still generally a negative outlook on receiving care. However, this is often reduced with outpatient care.
Outpatient therapy can help reduce the stigma surrounding mental healthcare. It does this by integrating therapy into daily life. This helps normalize the act of seeking help and making mental health services more approachable for those who may be hesitant.

Integration with Other Services

Outpatient therapy often functions synergistically with other forms of healthcare. For instance, a primary care physician may refer a patient for outpatient psychiatric consultation. Also, someone receiving inpatient care might transition to outpatient therapy for ongoing support.

Common Mental Health Conditions Outpatient Therapy Can Help With

Outpatient therapy can help with various mental health conditions and challenges. However, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. With that being said, outpatient therapy can be tailored to meet the specific needs of the individual.

Here are some of the common conditions and challenges that outpatient therapy can help with:


Depression is one of the most prevalent mental health conditions. It is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness. It is also marked by a lack of interest or pleasure in daily activities.2

Outpatient therapy can provide individuals with a structured and supportive environment to address and manage their depression. Through regular sessions with a mental health professional, individuals can explore and understand the root causes of their depression, develop coping mechanisms, and acquire valuable skills to navigate life’s challenges. 

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders refer to a wide range of different conditions. Anxiety can include conditions like generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and social anxiety disorder. These disorders are marked by excessive and often irrational feelings of fear and dread.

Outpatient therapy can be instrumental in helping individuals manage and alleviate symptoms associated with anxiety disorders. By providing a safe and confidential space, outpatient therapy allows individuals to explore the underlying causes of their anxiety and develop effective coping strategies.

Through regular sessions, individuals can learn to identify and challenge irrational thought patterns, develop relaxation techniques, and gradually confront and overcome anxiety-inducing situations.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD is characterized by obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. Treatment for this condition is directed towards helping individuals confront their fears and reduce compulsive actions.

In outpatient therapy sessions, individuals can work with mental health professionals to explore and understand their obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. The focus is on breaking the cycle of compulsive actions and developing alternative, more adaptive coping mechanisms.

Additionally, therapists may collaborate with individuals to identify triggers and stressors contributing to OCD symptoms and work on strategies to address them.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is a mental health condition that often occurs after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. It can manifest in symptoms like flashbacks, emotional numbness, and severe anxiety.

In therapy sessions, individuals can collaboratively explore the impact of traumatic events on their mental well-being. Therapists use various therapeutic approaches, such as trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), tailored to address the unique aspects of PTSD.

The focus is on helping individuals process and make sense of their experiences, manage symptoms like flashbacks and severe anxiety, and regain a sense of control over their lives.

Bipolar Disorder

This disorder is marked by mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). Outpatient treatment may involve medication management and counseling to help manage these symptoms.

In outpatient treatment, individuals can access a combination of medication management and counseling to effectively manage and stabilize their mood symptoms. Therapists collaborate with individuals to explore the specific challenges associated with bipolar disorder, develop coping strategies for mood regulation, and enhance overall emotional well-being.

Counseling may encompass psychoeducation on recognizing early signs of mood episodes, improving interpersonal relationships, and addressing lifestyle factors that can impact mood stability.

Personality Disorders

This includes conditions like borderline personality disorder (BPD) or antisocial personality disorder. These often include long-term patterns of deviant behavior, unhealthy relationships with others, and a flawed sense of self.3

In therapy sessions, individuals can collaborate with mental health professionals to explore the long-term patterns of deviant behavior, unhealthy relationships, and flawed self-perception associated with these disorders. Therapists may utilize dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) or cognitive-behavioral therapy adapted for personality disorders to address specific challenges.

The focus is on helping individuals develop healthier coping mechanisms, improve interpersonal skills, and establish a more stable and positive sense of self.

Eating Disorders

This includes conditions like anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder. Treatment for these disorders often combines nutritional counseling and medication to address these underlying symptoms.

Further, therapists provide psychoeducation on the nature of eating disorders, helping individuals understand the underlying factors contributing to their condition. This knowledge is empowering and can facilitate better self-awareness and motivation for change.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by persistent patterns of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that can significantly impact daily functioning.

Outpatient therapy for ADHD focuses on enhancing coping skills, improving executive functions, and addressing emotional challenges associated with the condition. Therapists often employ cognitive-behavioral strategies to help individuals manage time, set realistic goals, and develop organizational skills.

Behavioral interventions, such as reinforcement strategies, are utilized to address impulsive behavior and promote positive habits.

Substance Use Disorders

These disorders can include dependence to substances such as alcohol, opioids, or benzodiazepines, leading to impaired functioning and negative consequences.

Therapists utilize evidence-based approaches such as CBT or motivational interviewing (MI) to help individuals explore the motivations behind their substance use, develop coping mechanisms, and set realistic goals for recovery. Outpatient therapy also facilitates psychoeducation on addiction, relapse prevention strategies, and the cultivation of a strong support network.

Regular counseling sessions in an outpatient setting contribute to ongoing accountability and provide individuals with the tools and skills necessary to overcome challenges, ultimately promoting sustained recovery from SUD.

Stress and Burnout

In 2023 alone, 89% of Americans reported to having experienced burnout. High amounts of stress can exacerbate conditions of mental fatigue, lead to inconsistent sleep, and impair mental and physical well-being.

Outpatient therapy can be instrumental in addressing these issues by providing individuals with coping strategies, stress management techniques, and a supportive space to explore the root causes of their stress and burnout. Therapists work collaboratively to identify and challenge maladaptive thought patterns, establish healthier work-life boundaries, and develop resilience.

Additionally, therapy helps individuals prioritize self-care, set realistic goals, and navigate interpersonal challenges, contributing to improved mental health and a more balanced and fulfilling life.

Relationship Issues

Issues like marital conflict, family discord, or interpersonal difficulties often find resolution through outpatient couples therapy or family therapy. Therapists provide a structured and collaborative environment for individuals to enhance communication, build empathy, and develop effective problem-solving skills, fostering healthier relationships and family dynamics.

Common Therapeutic Techniques Offered In Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient therapy offers a myriad of therapeutic techniques and approaches. These can be customized to meet an individual’s unique needs, goals, and circumstances.
Below are some of the most commonly used approaches:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

In CBT, individuals work with a therapist to identify and challenge negative thought patterns and beliefs that contribute to emotional distress and problematic behaviors. The goal is to develop healthier and more adaptive ways of thinking and responding to various situations.

CBT is often structured, goal-oriented, and time-limited, making it effective for a range of mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, phobias, and stress.

The collaborative nature of CBT empowers individuals to actively participate in their own healing process, gaining practical skills to manage challenges and improve overall well-being.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

DBT is a specialized form of cognitive-behavioral therapy designed to help individuals who experience intense and challenging emotions, particularly those with borderline personality disorder (BPD).

Developed by psychologist Dr. Marsha M. Linehan, DBT combines cognitive-behavioral techniques with concepts of acceptance and mindfulness. The therapy aims to teach individuals skills in four main areas: emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, and mindfulness.

DBT emphasizes finding a balance between acceptance and change, encouraging individuals to acknowledge and validate their emotions while also working towards developing more adaptive behaviors and coping strategies. It has proven effective in addressing a range of emotional dysregulation issues and promoting overall well-being.4

Psychodynamic Therapy

This approach is rooted in psychoanalytic theory. It aims to explore unconscious processes and unresolved conflicts from the past that may be influencing present behavior. It is often used for deeper emotional issues and personality disorders.

Client-Centered Therapy

Also known as person-centered therapy, this approach empowers the individual to take an active role in their treatment. Here, the therapist provides unconditional positive regard and empathy. They also offer a non-judgmental space for individuals to explore their feelings.

Narrative Therapy

This approach views the individual as the author of their own life and aims to reframe the dominant narrative that may be causing problems. It is often used in dealing with trauma, stress, and relationship issues.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is a psychotherapeutic approach designed to help individuals process distressing memories and traumatic experiences.

EMDR incorporates bilateral stimulation, often in the form of side-to-side eye movements, to facilitate the processing of traumatic memories. The therapy involves a structured eight-phase protocol, including history-taking, preparation, assessment, desensitization, installation, body scan, closure, and reevaluation.

During the desensitization phase, individuals focus on traumatic memories while simultaneously engaging in bilateral stimulation, allowing for the reprocessing of these memories in a way that reduces their emotional intensity. 

It aims to help individuals reprocess traumatic memories, alleviate associated distress, and promote psychological healing.

Art Therapy

Art therapy uses the creative process of art-making to explore and communicate complex emotions and psychological states. It’s often used for people who find it difficult to express themselves through conventional talk methods.

Family and Couples Therapy

This involves working with families or couples to improve communication. It also helps them resolve conflicts and strengthen relationships. It’s often employed for issues like marital problems, parent-child conflicts, or family transitions.

Medication Management

For disorders such as substance use disorder or severe depression or anxiety, talk therapy may not be enough to help individuals heal. This is why medication may be prescribed alongside psychotherapy. Medication management ensures that the treatment is effective and monitors for side effects.

How Is a Treatment Plan Developed In Outpatient Therapy?

Developing a treatment plan in outpatient therapy is a collaborative and dynamic process. It involves both the therapist and the individual working together in order to create and maintain an effective treatment regime in outpatient therapy.

What is outpatient therapy and how does a treatment plan help comprehensive healing? Here’s a breakdown of how it usually unfolds:

Step 1: Initial Assessment and Diagnosis

The outpatient process starts with an initial assessment, which can involve a structured interview and psychological testing. It can also involve consultation with other healthcare providers.
This helps the therapist or healthcare provider understand the individual’s symptoms, medical history, and life circumstances.

Step 2: Goal Setting

Once a preliminary diagnosis is made, the therapist works with the individual to set therapy or treatment goals. These goals have to be achievable, clear, and measurable. Goals could be as specific as “reduce the frequency of panic attacks” or as broad as “improve overall well-being.”

Step 3: Choosing the Therapeutic Approach

Next, the therapist will choose the therapeutic techniques and approaches that they feel will be most beneficial for the individual. Oftentimes, the therapist will work alongside other treatment providers to ensure that holistic well-being is provided.
The methods chosen depend significantly on the individual’s specific needs and goals. This decision is based on the following:
  • Evidence-based practices
  • The therapist’s expertise
  • The individual’s preferences and comfort level

Step 4: Plan Formalization

The formal treatment plan will generally outline the following:
  • The chosen therapeutic techniques
  • The frequency of sessions
  • Any prescribed medications
  • Other needed aspects, such as involving family members or other healthcare providers throughout the treatment process 
This treatment plan serves as a roadmap for the therapeutic process.

Step 5: Ongoing Assessment

Regular check-ins during outpatient programs help evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment. Adjustments are made as needed based on the individual’s feedback and observed progress or setbacks.

The Role of the Therapist in Outpatient Process

The therapist plays the following roles in guiding treatment in outpatient therapy:

Expert Guidance

The therapist serves as an expert guide in the journey towards mental wellness. They bring their clinical expertise, understanding of evidence-based practices, and therapeutic skills to the table.

At Black Horse Health, we work alongside you to provide professionals that can give you the care you need, ranging from trauma therapists and chronic pain specialists.

Facilitator of Self-Discovery

The therapist also plays the role of a facilitator who encourages self-discovery and insight. They create a safe, confidential, and non-judgmental space for the client. This way, they can help individuals explore their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

Accountability Partner

The therapist also holds the client accountable for taking the steps necessary to meet their treatment goals. This includes adhering to medication schedules and ensuring the individual completes and follows through with any homework or exercises.

Adaptability and Flexibility

The therapist must be adaptable, flexible, and ready to modify the treatment plan as needed. This could be in response to the client’s evolving needs or new scientific findings. It could also be because of observed effectiveness (or lack thereof) of the current approach.

Interdisciplinary Liaison

If the individual’s condition requires a multi-disciplinary approach involving other healthcare providers, the therapist often coordinates care and ensures a holistic treatment plan.

Emotional Support

Beyond techniques and treatment plans, the therapist provides emotional support, empathy, and validation. These are crucial for the therapeutic relationship and the client’s journey towards mental well-being.
what is outpatient therapy

Find Effective Outpatient Therapy at Black Horse Health

Navigating the complexities of addiction and/or mental health conditions can feel overwhelming, particularly when faced alone. Are you wondering ‘what is outpatient therapy?’ and if it’s a good option for you or your loved one?

At Black Horse Health, we’re committed to standing beside you, offering robust support and expert care to guide you toward wellness.

What We Offer

Our specialized Houston outpatient treatment program is designed to address your unique needs without disrupting your daily life.
With an arsenal of both evidence-based and holistic therapeutic techniques ranging from cognitive-behavioral therapy, art therapy, and experiential therapy, we focus on delivering a holistic healing experience tailored just for you.
We can help you or your loved one recovery from:

Get In Touch Today

Reach out to Black Horse Health today. We will work with you every step of the way to ensure you get the care and support you need during recovery. We’re here to help you build the foundation for a happy, healthy, and fulfilled life.