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Partial hospitalization is a type of program used to treat mental illness and substance abuse. In partial hospitalization, the patient continues to reside at home, but commutes to a treatment center up to seven days a week. Since partial hospitalization focuses on the overall treatment of the individual, rather than purely on his or her safety, the program is not used for people who are acutely suicidal.
Programs are available for the treatment of alcoholism and substance abuse problems, Alzheimers disease, anorexia and bulimia, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, chronic schizophrenia, and other mental illnesses. Programs geared specifically toward geriatric patients, adult patients, adolescents, or young children also exist. Programs for adolescents and children usually include an academic program, to either take the place of or to work with the child's local school.
Currently, many providers are moving away from the partial hospitalization model of day treatment and are adopting a psycho-social rehabilitation (PSR) model instead. The focus of PSR is on patient (or "member," as they are often referred to) empowerment, while seeking to "rehabilitate" patients with chronic mental illness so they can function more independently in the local community (see Clubhouse Model of Psychosocial Rehabilitation for a description of these types of services).
Additionally, some people have objected to the term partial hospitalization itself, since hospitalization for mental illness generally seeks to prevent injury to the patient or to those people whom the patient encounters (in the United States, for a person to be hospitalized involuntarily, it is necessary to demonstrate that he or she poses an immediate danger to him- or herself or others). Many of the patients in partial hospitalization programs do not, have not, and likely will never be psychiatrically hospitalized. As such, they object to the implication that a partial hospitalization program is "one step away" from actual hospitalization.
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