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Understanding the Types of Psychological Health Care

Doctor meeting patient

Source: Photo by Sgt. John Crosby

Being a patient can be confusing at times. Your psychological health care options may seem unclear, or you may be unsure about what a certain treatment means. Based on the type of treatment you need, you will receive different levels of care. Understanding the different types of psychological health care will allow you and your loved ones to be more informed.

The descriptions below include some of the types of psychological health care that service members and their families may be able to use within the military health system. Your local military treatment facility (MTF) can provide you with more information about what is available in your area, as not all services described below may be offered. All details shared here assume the treatment is provided by a MTF or a TRICARE-authorized provider.

Primary Care Behavioral Health (PCBH)– The first touch point many service members experience at their MTF.

  • Treatment is coordinated with your primary care manager and performed at your regularly primary care home.
  • PCBH clinicians assess and treat many psychological health concerns, such as anxiety or sleeping troubles.

Outpatient Psychotherapy – This is the most common type of treatment that usually takes place in a therapist’s or counselor’s office.

Partial Hospitalization – A treatment where a patient spends part of each day at the hospital in a structured therapy program, but does not stay overnight. It sometimes is called an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP).

Acute Inpatient Treatment – Care that requires staying at a hospital overnight to stabilize serious symptoms or ensure safety.

  • Considered when psychological symptoms affect safety to the patient or others. Also, if symptoms are so severe that the patient cannot take care of him or herself. Time is spent in therapy and working with professionals.
  • Meant to help the patient become safe and able to care for oneself.
  • Covered by TRICARE.

Residential Treatment Programs – A psychological health treatment program that includes living at a treatment facility to receive care for a longer period of time.

Reaching out is a sign of strength. If you or a loved one needs additional support, you can contact the Psychological Health Resource Center at 866-966-1020 to confidentially speak with trained health resource consultants 24/7. For an immediate crisis, call the Military Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 and press 1. You can also visit our “Seek Help, Find Care” webpage to see a list of other key psychological health resources.

Additional Resources

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