Understanding the benefits of a residential therapy program for depression, anxiety or addiction recovery

By Peter Hayton, Clinical Director of The Banyans Health and Wellness

There are many things to consider when it comes to selecting the right therapy for your needs. These include different therapy types; various therapist specialities and professional disciplines; your own personal preferences; and a variety of concerns and issues that you might be facing. 

Traditional models of support are often limited to institutional hospital programs or outpatient programs, where you visit a therapist once a week or on some other regular basis.

However, residential programs with a health, wellness, and therapy focus are now becoming more popular. There are obvious benefits of these types of residential programs and understanding more about the features and benefits of an intensive focused program can assist in making the right decision when choosing therapy support.

As a Clinical Director in two different types of centres, my experience has proven very helpful in being able to make informed comparisons. I operate in private practice and have been a Director of a clinic where clients see a Psychologist on a regular basis, in and around their day to day life. Now, as the Clinical Director of The Banyans Health and Wellness, operating a private Wellness Residence, I have experienced both environments.

Gifted therapists understand that the connection they make with their patients is paramount in assisting with the healing process. This takes time to develop. Also, when supporting a client to address concerns and make their desired changes, there are usually many areas to work through.  In addition, with any emotional, mental, or dependency issue, the need to promote good overall health is paramount, in order to positively impact the emotions, mind and heart of patients.  These overall health improvements mean areas like diet, nutrition, exercise, and sleep all need to be addressed.

Many Psychologists in less frequent models of delivery, such as occasional appointments, need to rely on a client’s own motivation to address areas of physical wellbeing. This can be a difficult scenario, as the reason a client is seeing a therapist often means they have reduced motivation. Therefore, a psychologist may need a number of consultation sessions just to address this motivation and need to improve physical health concerns.  However, in a residential wellness program, the aspects of diet, nutrition, exercise, and sleep are not only coordinated with the support of other professionals in the program, but are also scheduled into the daily program, freeing the counselling and psychological therapy time to address other concerns.

To be successful, counselling and psychological treatment also require that clients allow ample time for contemplation, adjustment, and implementation. Less frequent therapy programs offer this space in between the weekly or monthly consultations and while therapists may set homework, the busy schedule of life can get in the way. This can make it difficult for clients to follow up or even take the time to practice new skills and learnings.  In a residential program, while the program can be busy, there is also time specifically allocated for reflection, without the trappings and distracton of normal schedules and responsibilities. Thus the impact of transformation can be enhanced.  Moreover, activities like yoga, music, and artwork often work hand in hand with the therapy components, adding power and emphasis to the change process.

One thing I have particularly noted is the number of counselling and psychological consultations available in a residential program. This provides greater capacity to focus on the depth and pace of growth.  A conservative estimate of four therapy consultations in a week during a therapy program could easily take at least eight weeks of fortnightly sessions through less frequent treatment modalities.

Using the same frequency, a one month program at a residential facility could easily provide the same or greater number of counselling or psychological consultations that would occur in eight months in a therapist’s rooms.

When you consider the pace, the power, the support, and the focus that is on offer in residential program, it is easy to see why this type of program offers demonstrated results in less time as compared to regular therapeutic programs that can only offer less frequent treatment.

For many people who have significant professional or personal responsibilities, investing one month in an intensive therapy program followed up supportive aftercare is much more attractive than eight months of trying to fit therapy in amidst the rest of life.

With demonstrated results, a medically informed and integrated wellness program delivered by Master’s qualified practitioners can provide a transformation experience.

This is supported by research, with a broad study by Sheffield Hallam University[1] showing that there was strong and consistent evidence for residential programs including:

  • Residential programs provided benefits in physical and mental health and reductions in substance use.
  • A study of females showed a clear benefit from residential treatment programmes in the area of psychological health.
  • Greater overall improvement in physical health was related to residential programs than other forms of treatment.
  • Long-term outcomes provide a strong endorsement of residential treatment and the longevity of it’s positive effects.
  • Residential programs were significantly implicated in positive health outcomes, especially for those with alcohol, in the Australian Patient Pathways study.
  • Residential programs are generally dealing with complex health needs, yet generally achieve equivalent or better results to other modalities of treatment.

All of this is consistent with the demonstrated outcomes we observe and measure with guests of The Banyans Wellness Residence.

Call 1300 226 926 or email wellness@thebanyans.com.au for a confidential conversation about how you or a loved one can benefit from an individually tailored residential wellness program.


[1] http://www4.shu.ac.uk/mediacentre/residential-treatment-crucial-alcohol-and-drugs-recovery