Spelling it Out – What Do All These Letters Mean?
Every industry has jargon that people outside of the business do not understand. I often hear acronyms that, when met with a blank stare, are defined for the listener. Below are several acronyms that are commonly used in the mental health arena.
Levels of Care or Levels of Service (LOC or LOS)
The level of care (or service) refers to how and where an individual is best suited to received treatment. Several choices are available to people receiving mental health treatment, but professionals strive to place clients in the most independent option.
Inpatient (IP) care is the most restrictive level of care and refers to hospital stay. People often access an inpatient placement via the emergency room. This is the best route to take in a crisis, suicide attempt or other life-threatening situation.
Outpatient (OP) care is delivered outside of a hospital setting by a mental health professional. This is frequently talk therapy but could include other types of treatment such as EMDR, equine, art or music therapy. The distinction is that it is done outside of a hospital overnight stay.
Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) provides outpatient programming but is usually done several days per week for several hours each day. IOP treatment usually lasts 8-12 weeks and is frequently advised when someone discharges from an inpatient stay and can include talk therapy, either individual or in groups, coping skills development, and peer support.
Residential Treatment Center (RTC) is a level of care that combines overnight stay with therapy without the hospital. RTCs include 24-hour care, professional psychiatric or substance use treatment as well as recreation, peer support, skill building and a wide variety of specialized activities.
Types of Treatment
Another area of mental health that is filled with acronyms is the types of treatment available. Mental health professionals often use these terms as if they are common knowledge, but even if the acronym is widely understood-the treatment definitions can be confusing. It is hard for people to choose the best clinical care if the terms are not fully understood.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) deals with your current problems rather than things that happened in the past. CBT is grounded in the theory that your thoughts feelings and physical sensations are connected. People can become caught in a cycle of negative thinking and CBT helps them change those negative thought patterns.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is designed to help people regulate their emotions through the development of coping skills and learning mindfulness. Often used in the treatment of borderline personality disorder and PTSD, DBT can help with self-destructive behaviors and improve relationships. DBT includes individual, group, and telephone coaching to help people develop distress tolerance. Core strategies used in DBTare mindfulness, distraction, self-soothing and uses specific mnemonics to assist in staying in the moment.
Medication Assisted Therapy (MAT) is used primarily in substance use treatment. People in MAT are also required to participate in concurrent counseling which increases effectiveness. Medication is used to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms, make substance use less enjoyable, and to prevent overdose. While not without controversy among individuals with a substance use disorder, MAT is an effective, evidence-based treatment.
Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy (RO-DBT) is designed to increase openness and receptivity and promote higher levels of intimacy and social connectedness in individuals who persons with problems of over control. Rather than focusing on changing how one thinks or behaves, RO-DBT teaches people how to activate areas of Their brain linked to safety and openness to new experience, and to use non-verbal social signals that enhance social connectedness.