What is a Treatment Plan?

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The treatment plan is an important document that is kept in the client's file. Photo © Microsoft

Question: What is a Treatment Plan?

Understanding the Panic Disorder Treatment Plan

Psychotherapy is one of the most common treatment options for people living with mental illness. Many panic disorder sufferers will decide to go to therapy to assist in dealing with difficult emotions, building coping techniques, and managing symptoms.

If you determine that therapy is the right treatment option for your needs, you will work with your therapist and follow a recommended treatment plan.

This plan will be used as your map or guide on the road towards recovery. The following provides information to help you understand more about the panic disorder treatment plan.

Answer:

What is a Treatment Plan?

Attending therapy can assist a person with panic disorder in coping with symptoms, overcoming negative emotions, and learning healthier behaviors. In order to achieve these types of therapeutic goals, the therapist and client will work together to collaborate on a treatment plan. This plan is used to document goals, steps that will be taken to achieve these goals, and progress. Although approaching treatment planning may be undertaken less formally, sometimes the therapist will use a document that may be signed by both client and therapist and kept in the client's file to be reevaluated at a later date.

Treatment plans can vary depending on the type of documentation used by the clinic you are attending.

For instance, some therapists will have a formal typed document for the client to review and sign, while others may hand write the document in session with the client. Regardless of the therapist’s preferences or requirements, the treatment plan is used to maintain a record of progress. It can help keep the therapist and client accountable and on the same page, determine what is working, guide the course of therapy, and ensure the client is getting the most out of therapy.

This plan is also often presented to the client’s insurance provider to document progress and services provided.

The treatment plan will outline several aspects of the therapy process: Presenting issues, goals and objectives, interventions and strategies, and an approximate time frame for completing the treatment plan goals.

The presenting issues are typically first on the treatment plan and are used to describe the client’s specific problems that he/she would like to change. Each of the presenting problems are matched with specific goals. The treatment plan is typically limited to about 2 to 3 measurable and realistic goals, each with several accompanying objectives. The interventions are the techniques that the therapist will utilize to help the client reach his/her goals. The strategies describe how the client will take action both in and out of the therapy sessions towards achieving desired goals. Each goal will have an estimated time in which the it may be obtained.

The therapist will set this time frame to review goals, which often occurs at a minimum of once every three months.

At that time, the therapist and client review each goal and decide which have been accomplished, which may still need some more time to be achieved, and if any additional goals are needed to be added to the treatment plan. Reviewing goals frequently will ensure that they are still relevant for the client’s needs and can keep therapy on track.

Example Treatment Plan for Panic Disorder

Melissa was referred to psychotherapy by her family physician due to chronic anxiety, stress, and other panic-like symptoms. Her doctor diagnosed her with panic disorder and prescribed medication to decrease her anxiety symptoms and panic attacks. Melissa reports that her panic attacks are impacting her overall functioning and feelings of self-worth. She hopes that therapy will assist her in feeling calmer and controlling her symptoms.

Presenting Issues: Difficulty managing stress, anxiety, and panic attacks; experiencing low self-esteem.

Goal #1: Melissa will develop ways to manage anxiety and panic attacks so that these symptoms are no longer affecting her functioning, as measured by tracking her self-reports of panic attacks and anxiety.

Objective #1a: Melissa will track her symptoms using a mood and anxiety chart.

Objective #1b: Melissa will continue to follow-up with her doctor’s prescription plan, taking her medication for panic attacks as directed by her doctor.

Objective #1c: Melissa will learn to identify her symptoms and recognize triggers by monitoring her experiences using a panic attack diary.

Objective #1d: Melissa will learn coping strategies to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

Interventions/Strategies:

Goal #2: Melissa will improve her self-esteem, as measured by obtaining a higher score on a self-esteem assessment tool.

Objective #2a: Melissa will learn about healthy versus low self-esteem, including possible contributing factors to her poor self-esteem.

Objective #2b: Melissa will learn to identify and replace her negative thoughts and self-defeating beliefs that are contributing to her symptoms.

Objective #2c: Melissa will build on her social support network to overcome feelings of isolation and build upon her sense of self-worth.

Interventions/Strategies:

  • Individual therapy to gain a better understanding of self-esteem issues, learn about her cognitive distortions, become knowledgeable in cognitive restructuring, role-playing social interactions, and obtaining resources for additional social support.
  • Group therapy to build on social skills and assertiveness, work through feelings of loneliness, and boost self-image.
  • Homework assignments to continue to improve self-esteem outside of therapy sessions.

Estimated Time Frame: 3 months

Source:

Jongsma, A. E., Peterson, L. M., & Bruce, T.J. (2006). The Complete Adult Psychotherapy Treatment Planner. Hoboken, N.J.:Wiley.

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