What is Assertive Community Treatment?
An Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) program is a structured, evidence-based therapeutic program that is designed to improve outcomes for people with severe mental illness who are at risk of psychiatric crises and hospitalizations, as well as incarceration. ACT is one of the oldest and most widely researched evidence-based practices in the field of behavioral health for the treatment of patients with severe mental illness.
The ACT model involves the cooperative efforts of a multidisciplinary team and active outreach to support an individual’s development within the community. Positive outcomes and quality of life are enhanced by consistent, caring, person-oriented relationships. People with severe symptoms of mental illness have been shown to benefit from ACT through reduced hospitalizations, increased housing stability, and the improved quality of life that an Assertive Community Treatment program can help foster through therapy, education, and developing skills. In addition, ACT may reduce staff burnout and increase client satisfaction, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness.
Who is Assertive Community Treatment Right For?
The ACT treatment model is typically used for individuals suffering from schizophrenia, severe substance use disorders, or other serious conditions who are finding it difficult to follow the standard outpatient treatment schedule (maintaining medication adherence, attending doctor’s appointments, attending therapy groups, etc.) and who are at high risk for relapse or psychiatric hospitalization.
ACT clients are likely to have tried inpatient programs before or may have been hospitalized multiple times or for a lengthy period of time, and they may need professional assistance on a daily basis due to impaired psychosocial functioning. Research suggests that ACT services are most effective for this particular group of clients, and may not be necessary or helpful for all individuals with mental health problems. It is worth noting that although this method of treatment was originally designed and is effective for people with various types of severe mental illnesses, the majority of clients who are treated with ACT are usually those suffering from schizophrenia-spectrum-related diagnoses in light of the often debilitating functional impairments they experience.
When Should You Seek Help?
Assertive Community Treatment services are usually recommended by a psychiatric professional after a diagnosis has already been made or as part of an ongoing treatment plan, however, if you or a loved one are experiencing severe and debilitating symptoms that are negatively impacting your quality of life or ability to carry out social obligations, ACT providers can still help. During initial assessment meetings, ACT professionals can help you determine if ACT is right for you based on the symptoms you’re experiencing, the length of time they last, and your previous mental health history.
Signs to watch out for include:
- Confused thinking
- Delusions or hallucinations
- Feelings of extreme highs and lows
- Prolonged depression or irritability
- Social withdrawal
- Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Growing inability to cope with daily problems and activities
- Denial of obvious problems
- Numerous unexplained physical ailments
- Substance abuse
Life Adjustment Team
At LAT, assertive community treatment is what we do best. We believe that effective case management is a collaborative effort between our team and clients, as well as their families and the community at large. We are a team of dedicated health and wellness professionals who help diagnose problems, coordinate plans, provide mentorship, and advocate for courses of action and key services that support holistic health and well-being. We achieve this through open and honest communication, collaborating on strategies, and supporting patient access to available resources in order to enhance patient safety, quality of life, and quality and affordability of care.
We believe when individuals’ needs are met and when they reach an optimum level of wellness, independence, and functional capability, they become empowered to lead better, more productive, and more stable lives. The first step is identifying the type of support an individual needs. We help our clients and their families identify the various factors that contribute to and exacerbate their illnesses and identify obstacles to recovery, and work together to develop strategies to overcome them.
Contact a member of our clinical team today if you or a loved one are struggling with your mental health.