What is a Typical Day Like for a Counseling Professional Working at a Residential Treatment Facility?

Updated November 30, 2022 · 2 Min Read

Learn more about a career as a Residential Treatment Facility Counselor including education requirements, certifications and licensing, and more.

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If you are an aspiring counseling professional interested in learning more about the diverse community settings that employ counselors, you may be wondering what a typical day at a residential treatment facility consists of.

As one of the top places of employment for professional licensed counselors, working at a long-term residential treatment center may be the perfect option for qualified professionals who are interested in working with individuals across the lifespan who are dealing with mental health disorders, addictions, severe disabilities, delinquency problems, eating disorders, and trauma. In order to determine whether you want to put your expertise to use in this out-of-home environment, the following is an explanation on the specific scope of practice required for working in a residential treatment facility.


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What Are Residential Treatment Centers?

Designed to provide a safe and supportive environment for individuals who are experiencing mental and/or behavioral health disorders, residential treatment centers provide intensive therapeutic services that require patients to leave their home and reside within the facility for the duration of therapy. As a higher level of care than individual or group therapy, residential treatment facilities offer therapy programs that last a minimum of 28 days with counseling services provided around-the-clock 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Residential treatment facilities are often most beneficial for individuals seeking help in overcoming severe disorders because the environment grants the unique chance to step away from their everyday surroundings, remove any distractions, and be surrounded by others suffering the same issues.

Types of Residential Treatment Facility Programs

With residential treatment facilities offered all over the United States and beyond, it is no surprise that there are several different treatment programs that are provided in this personable atmosphere by professional counselors. As a counselor in a long-term residential treatment center, you may decide to provide professional care to children and adolescents, individuals with several mental health problems, or those with substance abuse disorders. While counselors in adolescent residential treatment centers may be responsible for supplying necessary schooling to prevent the risk of falling behind in their studies, those in mental health treatment centers may specialize in building life skills to improve well-being. Counselors in residential substance abuse treatment facilities may have added roles in supervising the detoxification and withdrawal from drugs.

Duties of Counselors Specializing in Residential Treatment

Since residential treatment facilities are responsible for providing care 24/7, counseling professionals in these settings must be prepared to work irregular shifts, including nights, weekends, and even holidays. During the typical work day, counselors utilize a wide range of therapeutic counseling modalities, such as equine-assisted therapy, massage therapy, meditation, acupuncture, and yoga therapy, to meet each resident’s individual needs. Counselors will spend their days treating mental and behavioral disorders, encouraging patients to discuss their experiences, helping patients process their reactions, guiding patients in developing strategies to chance their behavior, coordinating treatment with other professionals, and referring patients to other resources in the community upon discharge.

Overall, mental health counselors who find employment in residential treatment centers are responsible for using a variety of tools to help patients with severe mental health disorders get on the right track towards developing more positive life-enhancing behaviors for increased well-being. While counseling job opportunities are available at hospitals, private practices, community clinics, schools, prisons, and other mental health settings, working in a residential treatment facility comes with the added bonus of building strong long-term connections with individuals who are suffering from major mental health concerns.

In a typical day at a residential treatment facility, counselors have the ability to truly making a difference in the lives of those who have lost their way and are striving to achieve recovery for a brighter future.

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