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Kevin O'Flaherty

In this article, we explain treament plans for involuntary commitment for mental illness. We answer questions such as, “what is a treatment plan?”, “why is a treatment plan important?”, “what should be included in a treatment plan?”, “what if you disagree with the treatment plan?”, and “what if you want to change your treatment plan?”

What is a Treatment Plan?

A treatment plan is a detailed document that the facility must create within the first three days upon admittance of a patient that has been involuntarily committed.  Treatment plans are shaped to each patient’s needs, therefore they vary from person to person.  Once the treatment plan is complete (which should be in the first three days), the facility is obligated to give you a copy of the entire plan.  A family member or guardian should also receive a copy of the treatment plan, with permission from the patient.

Why is a Treatment Plan Important?

The goal of the treatment plan is to ensure the patient, staff, and any family members or guardians that will assist the patient once he or she is discharged, are all on the same page in terms of care and what is best for the patient.  A treatment plan is crucial in mapping out goals for the patient’s care, which helps to identify and encourage progress; especially for the patient.  No one should be hospitalized against his or her will any longer than absolutely necessary.  Individual treatment plans must be frequently reevaluated, making it less likely to be unnecessarily hospitalized.

What Should Be Included in a Treatment Plan?

A treatment plan, also known as an individual services plan, must contain all of the following information:

  • An assessment of your treatment needs
  • A description of the services you will receive and the goals for each type of service
  • The amount of time that you will need services to meet your goals
  • The role of your family in implementing the plan
  • The name of every person(s) responsible for providing the services required by the plan
  • An evaluation of your progress since you entered treatment
  • A description of your behaviors or conditions and any other reasons which lead the staff to conclude that the patient still needs to be in involuntary treatment

If the facility director cannot provide you with any of the information listed above, the facility must give you a written explanation including; why they cannot provide the information at that time, what steps the facility is taking to retrieve the information, and when it is expected to be available.

What if You Disagree with the Treatment Plan?

If you disagree with any part of the treatment plan, or believe critical information is missing from the plan, you can request to have a judge review the treatment plan in a hearing.  The facility director must submit a copy of your treatment plan with the court within 30 days of your involuntary admission, and the patient or guardian must also wait 30 days before a petition to review the treatment plan can be filed.  The request for review can only happen at specific times, and they are as follows:

  • 30 days after initial admission
  • 90 days after initial admission
  • 90 days after any date with an extension of your commitment

If the judge discovers that the treatment plan is missing critical information, the judge will rule for the facility to make the necessary changes.

What if You Want to Change Your Treatment Plan?

Reviewing the plan and altering the plan are slightly different.  Within the first 30 days upon admission, there isn’t enough data about the patient or the treatment to make an educated decision about the effectiveness of the treatment plan.  You can request a hearing at any time, and below is a list of things that are within your rights to accomplish at your hearing:

  • You may ask the judge to order additional or different forms of treatment
  • You may present evidence and have witnesses testify on your behalf
  • You may request that the judge allow you to have an independent examination by a professional of your choice.  This person would be able to testify the results of the examination, possibly causing the treatment plan to be altered.  However, this is not a standard right.  The judge will only allow you to be examined by another party if he or she is convinced that it is not possible to evaluate the current treatment plan without the additional information that another examination could provide.
Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.


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