Understanding Your Therapy Treatment Plan

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A therapy treatment plan is your roadmap to feeling better. It’s the plan you and your counselor will begin outlining in your first session and develop from there. While you may never see your formal counseling treatment plan, your counselor will share its components with you. You then have the opportunity to agree with it or discuss anything that you are uncomfortable with.

This post will help you further understand your therapy treatment plan.

The Foundation

Your counselor begins thinking about your therapy treatment plan during your first session together. They begin to form a diagnosis as they gather background information from you and learn more about what brought you to therapy. It’s important to understand a diagnosis.

In order for insurance to cover the cost of your treatment, your therapist needs to provide a diagnosis, however, a diagnosis is much more. 

A diagnosis is an interpretation, analysis, or conclusion based on your presenting concerns.  The diagnosis influences the therapy treatment plan. Some counselors may create a formal, written therapy treatment plan after your first few visits and share it with you in writing. Others may rely on your diagnosis and their understanding of you and how to treat your concerns to guide them along the way. 

Whether the treatment plan is formal or informal, it is likely to change somewhat as your therapy progresses. These changes are because you will accomplish certain parts of your plan. Also, there may be things in the plan that don’t seem to work for you. In that case, your counselor will revise to suit your needs better.  A treatment plan is a collaborative process.  

The Components

The therapy treatment plan guides your treatment. This means whether it’s formal or informal, it includes information that your counselor needs to have at the forefront of their mind during your sessions. While the plan’s specific components may vary, every treatment plan has certain elements.

Counseling treatment plans include:

  • Assessment – This part of the plan is the history and backstory the counselor gathered during your first counseling session.   
  • Presenting Problem – This problem is the issue or concern that brought you to therapy. It’s not unusual for a client to come in presenting with one issue and upon further discussion with the therapist together they recognize that there are other issues that could be contributing to presenting the problem.  For example, a client’s presenting problem is relational distress with a partner, but during the assessment the client admits they also abuse alcohol.  It is common for people to minimize the amount they actually drink, especially if they “drink like their friends”.  It is important to be honest with your therapist in order for him/her to help you.  This part of the plan also will include an official diagnosis at some point.  It can take a couple of visits with your therapist in order for her to make a proper diagnosis.  If you are curious about your diagnosis, ask your therapist.  
  • Goals for Therapy – The goals are an outline of what you hope to accomplish through counseling in order to address your specific problem(s).
  • Methods – A list of the therapeutic techniques the counselor plans to use to help you accomplish your therapy goals.  Again, this is a collaborative process, if your therapist is making recommendations of methods to use and you are unwilling to do those things, you need to let your therapist know.  This is why knowing what kind of treatment therapies a therapist uses is helpful.  If their treatment methods are not something you would be willing to do, or want to do, better to know this upfront.
  • Plan – A summary of how long the counselor thinks it will take you to accomplish your goals together. This component includes how often you should attend sessions, how long those sessions will be, as well as your responsibilities as a client in terms of completing homework assignments, and how long they expect your overall treatment to take. An individual client’s motivation to change to utilize the methods recommended is in direct correlation with how long therapy will take.  Some clients are highly motivated and open and willing to use and incorporate different methods, and others are not.  An effective treatment plan is co-created by the therapist and client, and factors in all of this data.

The therapy treatment plan guides everything that happens in your sessions. It secures an understanding of what you and your counselor are trying to accomplish together. But these goals may change during therapy, which is why the therapy treatment plan typically addresses or is altered into three stages. 

The Stages

  1. Acute – The acute stage is when you start treatment. Typically, during the first six to 12 weeks of counseling, the goal is to treat the symptoms that brought you to counseling to begin with.
  2. Continuation – In the continuation stage, your symptoms are more under control, and the counselor works with you to better understand how your issue originated and helps you better understand how you became the person you are.  This is also a phase in which the therapist will be reminding you of all the changes you have made, reminding you of the choices, decisions, and behaviors that you have made which have helped to improve your quality of life. This phase typically lasts a few months.
  3. Maintenance – The maintenance phase is regular check-ins with your counselor to help you continue addressing any concerns you have and ensuring your symptoms don’t return.

If your symptoms return or a new mental health issue arises, your counselor will change your treatment plan. You can repeat the stages as many times as necessary to keep you feeling your best.

Never Forget That You’re In Control

Ultimately, your therapy treatment plan is up to you. Your counselor will either discuss the plan with you or give you a paper copy of it. As this is a collaborative process you are always working with your therapist to develop a workable plan.

It is important to trust a counselor’s expertise, but you are in control of the treatment you receive. If you are uncomfortable with any part of your plan after your counselor thoroughly explains it to you, it is important to discuss this early on in treatment.

If your counselor doesn’t listen to your concerns or refuses to alter your plan, it’s probably a good idea to find a different therapist.

How All Counseling Can Help

A therapy treatment plan is a contract of sorts between you and your counselor. It outlines a plan for the treatment(s) the therapist will provide and your role for implementing the recommendations and suggestions. But before you can develop a counseling treatment plan, you have to find the counselor who best fits you. All Counseling wants to help. Use our searchable therapist directory to find a counselor to help guide you through your therapy treatment plan and accomplish your counseling goals.