Residential Mental Health Facilities Key Terms

Review residential mental health facilities lingo to better understand the facilities and services offered

Residential mental health facilities offer a variety of services to patients under various different circumstances. Often times, the terms associated with these services can be somewhat confusing and overwhelming. While some services pertain solely to the individual patient, other services involve the spouse or family members. In addition, facilities vary according to structure, as some facilities are large and locked, while other facilities are smaller and unlocked. To gain a deeper understanding of variations in facility types and services familiarize yourself with the following terms.

Crisis residential program (CRP)

Crisis residential programs are generally smaller facilities where patients are not locked down. For example, one particular CRP is a six-bedroom hotel like setting, where residents share amenities, such as the kitchen and laundry room. Psychiatrists are generally available on a part-time basis to help prescribe medication for residents as well as monitor progress.

Outpatient mental health services

Some residential mental health facilities offer outpatient mental health services, which allow patients to receive treatment during the day, while returning home in the evening. Services offered on an outpatient basis may include counseling on an individual, family or couple, as well as medication evaluation and monitoring. Sometimes outpatient care includes a psychological evaluation.


Psychotherapy is a treatment approach that involves the patient engaging in conversation with a mental health provider in order to lessen symptoms related to mental and emotional disorders. The process typically involves exploration of the particular condition affecting the patient, as well as the thoughts, feelings and behaviors associated with that condition. Ideally, through conversation, patients in psychotherapy gain insight into their condition and identify coping strategies to minimize symptoms.

Psychiatric hospital

Psychiatric hospitals, also known as mental hospitals, are locked settings, where patients with serious mental illnesses are treated using the medical model. These facilities are generally large in size and are staffed by trained professionals.

Civil commitment

Civil commitment occurs when a person is involuntarily ordered to receive mental health care because they pose a danger to self or others. Currently, civil commitment can occur under one of three different circumstances: inpatient commitment, outpatient commitment or criminal commitment. While every state within the United States has a civil commitment statute, rules are not necessarily the same in all states.

Psychological assessment

Psychological assessment, often referred to as a psychological evaluation, is generally completed by a psychologist or other appropriately certified individual. During the process of a psychological assessment, the professional may collect information from multiple sources, such as observations, psychological test results, interviews and medical history. Once all of the information has been evaluated, the professional makes a decision regarding the patient's mental health status. Specific types of testing, which may be used during a psychological assessment include intellectual assessment, personality assessment, neuropsychological testing and occupational testing.