Positive health outcomes and an engaging, meaningful wellness journey require proper planning and implementation. In the healthcare sector, that means documenting an effective plan that will address a patient’s needs and goals, while considering all the factors that play a role in their well-being.
Treatment plans are a crucial part of any mental healthcare solution and feature regularly in practitioners’ day-to-day work with patients.
In this article, we’ll explore what they look like, how they work, and how helping professionals can plan their patient’s individual treatments more effectively.
What is a Treatment Plan?
In both mental and general healthcare settings, a treatment plan is a documented guide or outline for a patient’s therapeutic treatment.
Treatment plans are used by professionals such as psychologists, psychiatrists, behavioral health professionals, and other healthcare practitioners as a way to:
- Evaluate, and
- Manage a patient’s condition over time for positive health outcomes.
Beginning with a client’s presenting problem, and outlining the steps required to address their goals, these plans can be used to improve the quality of treatment for patients in a wide range of disciplines.
An effective approach to treatment planning can help identify potential challenges that may arise during a patient’s therapy, and is developed collaboratively to consider both the patient and their provider.
Examples include physical therapy, rehabilitation, speech therapy, crisis counseling, family or couples counseling, and the treatment of many mental health conditions, including:
- Mood disorders
- Crisis and Trauma Counseling
- Personality Disorders, and more.
An effective approach to treatment planning can also help to identify potential challenges that may arise during a patient’s therapy and is developed collaboratively to consider both the patient and provider.
With these key outcomes in mind, an effective treatment plan includes several elements:
- Patient’s presenting concern(s): The challenge they would like to deal with
- Their medical or treatment history: Including any relevant demographic information, previous diagnoses, past treatments, and important details from physical or psychological assessments
- Therapeutic objectives or goals: Both over the longer term, and broken down into shorter-term subgoals
- Treatment modalities: For example, the behavioral, social, or psychological treatments that will be targeted
- Interventions/Methods: A description of the techniques and approaches to be implemented
- Progress, time frame, and outcomes: These delineate key milestones in the therapeutic process, such as when a treatment will be evaluated or the plan itself reviewed. It should also address the planned duration of the therapy, and other details such as session length.
To illustrate, a mental health treatment plan for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) might start with the patient’s symptom descriptions, and detail their wellness goals alongside the main milestones for each desired outcome.
Goals and Objectives of a Treatment Plan
With specific goals and objectives, healthcare professionals and their patients can clarify the desired outcomes that they will be working toward. As well as helping practitioners identify the most appropriate techniques and psychological tools for a client’s therapy, they can give a useful overview of what resources will be required, as well as the time frame for the treatment itself.
Involving patients in the treatment planning process, and especially in the goal-setting stage, is often a great way for therapists and psychologists to build patient health engagement for optimal involvement and motivation.
Examples and Samples
In this section, we’ll look at an example mental health treatment plan, and illustrate what an online treatment plan might look like.
An example treatment plan for our fictional GAD patient might look as follows:
Example Treatment Plan
Gina will enaction an Anxiety Management Strategy to reduce her stress-related feelings in the workplace. The goal is to achieve an average subjective stress rating of 3/10 throughout the week, with 0 represents no subjective stress.
This first week, Gina has successfully identified key stressors and selected coping strategies from the materials provided to successfully fulfill Objectives #1 and #2. She has identified ‘unreasonable deadlines’ as an unforeseen ‘trigger’ at work and reported feeling equipped to deal with it using the deep breathing exercises provided. Dr. Wong helped Gina install the ESM software on her mobile device and showed her how to access the Deep Breathing Script in the app, which Gina found valuable.
Objective #3 has also been met, as Gina reported effectively utilizing the appropriate techniques when the need arose with encouraging results. Gina describes being excited to try the AMS again for another 3 weeks during Session #2, during which both parties also decided to continue as discussed for another 3 weeks – Objective 4 is achieved.
Sample Online Treatment Plans
With treatment plan software, the process itself can be simplified and made much more efficient using discipline-specific templates. Digital clinical solutions that offer discipline-specific codes can also reduce the volume of manual data entry required, so that practitioners can focus more on designing, reviewing, and evaluating the plan itself.
A software solution that includes the right features for an organization or e-clinic can also help patients and providers in several other ways, by:
- Allowing physicians, therapists, and counselors to securely and privately store patient treatment plans in a HIPAA-compliant manner
- Centralizing a patient’s treatment details, medical records, and progress notes in one convenient database or health record
- Making treatment plans accessible to different providers involved in the patient’s care, and
- Providing structure and a framework for more comprehensive planning, to ensure no details are overlooked and key milestones are addressed.
The sample shows how a virtual solution such as ICANotes software might be used to add Progress Notes to a patient’s mental health treatment plan.
Below, a screenshot from the software TherapyNotes illustrates how some solutions, even those not designed with a dedicated Treatment Planning tool, can allow practitioners to customize goals and create bespoke treatments from common therapeutic goals.
3 Top Treatment Planning Software for Practitioners
If you’re looking to speed up the admin side of treatment planning, improve alignment in large organizations, or create more detailed individual plans, there are a vast array of options available in today’s blended care software market.
In this section, we review some of the top therapy tools that can enable you to design, organize, and customize your patient’s treatment plans digitally.
|TheraScribe promises to help practitioners create professional, customized treatment plans in under 20 minutes using a range of templates and predefined codes for in-depth blueprints.|
Designed for clinicians and usable by practice staff, the solution is pre-loaded with DSM-5 and ICD-10 diagnostic codes for quicker data entry. Pre-written Progress Note templates are another of the software’s more useful features.
|Good For||Speech Therapy, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Mental Health, Psychologists, Psychiatrists|
|TheraNest combines practice management and mental healthcare features into a single software suite, as an all-in-one solution for mental healthcare professionals.|
Among its many features is a Planning function that can be used to create bespoke plans for Wiley Treatment Plans. These combine clinician-entered assessment information with practitioner templates for a quicker, more comprehensive process than manual planning.
Recommended: TheraNest Review: 17 Advantages and Disadvantages
|Good For||Psychologists, Mental Health Coaches, Psychiatrists, Medical Practitioners, Prescribing Physicians|
|ICANotes is one of the most robust treatment planning solutions for larger healthcare organizations, and includes e-prescribing to make it ideal for psychiatrists.|
It offers a wealth of customizable templates for different mental health subdisciplines, each of which can be edited to detail care elements such as goals, interventions, presenting problems, patient strengths, and barriers. The system comes with a comprehensive database of codes and more to choose from.
|Good For||Psychologists, Medical Practitioners, Psychiatrists, Prescribing Physicians, Mental Healthcare|
4 Useful Forms
Given the differing needs of providers and organizations, with size, scope, and discipline in mind, an entire software system may not always be necessary.
While treatment planning software can absolutely add value in large practices such as hospitals or e-clinics, it often comes with a monthly subscription, and even then the available features may not address your specific needs.
For this reason – among others – software with custom form capabilities can be a useful solution. These simple documentation tools can be found in most behavioral health and coaching solutions, and give practitioners the flexibility to create their own treatment plan templates by creating separate forms for various key fields.
An effective approach to treatment planning can also help to identify potential challenges that may arise during a patient’s therapy, and is developed collaboratively to consider both the patient and provider.
According to Health and Welfare Idaho, there are four types of form that can cover the essential fields of a versatile treatment plan:
- Patient Information forms: Commonly found in most EHR or EMR software, these vary in their level of detail. With customizable templates, information such as a patient’s medical history, previous treatments, and more can be included to basic demographic and contact details.
- Diagnostic Summaries: As discussed, a summary of the patient’s presenting challenge and/or specialist diagnoses.
- Problems and Goals: In many mental health apps and software solutions, specialty-specific codes are provided to save practitioners administrative time, and
- Signatures or Consent: Most digital healthcare solutions also include the ability to electronically sign, share, and even lock treatment plans to ensure they are stored securely.
Creating individualized treatment plans can be time-consuming, but it’s essential to ensuring each client receives the quality care they require for the best possible health outcomes.
By streamlining the admin side of planning a patient’s wellness journey, practitioners can often spend more time collaborating with clients to design engaging, meaningful patient-focused solutions. Whether a digital clinical solution will be valuable in your organization, or whether you opt for custom forms, it helps to know that there are many great options available for you as a mental healthcare practitioner.
- ^ Seligman, L. (2004). Diagnosis and treatment planning in counseling. Springer Science & Business Media.
- ^ Capuzzi, D., & Gross, D. R. (Eds.). (2013). Introduction to the counseling profession. Routledge.
- ^ GoodTherapy. (2020). Treatment Plan. Retrieved from: https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/treatment-plan
- ^ Stanhope, V., Ingoglia, C., Schmelter, B., & Marcus, S. C. (2013). Impact of person-centered planning and collaborative documentation on treatment adherence. Psychiatric Services, 64(1), 76.
- ^ ICANotes. (2020). Guide to Creating Mental Health Treatment Plans. Retrieved from https://www.icanotes.com/2018/08/24/guide-to-creating-mental-health-treatment-plans/