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Individual treatment plans

Before providing any mental health treatment, a treatment plan must be completed for a child or youth. The Individual Treatment Plan (ITP) is essential, because it informs the provider and others about the goals, type of services, service intensity and progress indicators that are designed for the child’s problems, needs and preferences.

The ITP is a written plan that establishes and documents the following:

  • Treatment goals and objectives based on the most recent diagnostic assessment
  • Specific strategies and methods for treating needs identified by the diagnostic assessment
  • Schedule for accomplishing the goals and objectives
  • Responsibility for providing each treatment component
  • Mental health status and progress, including changes in functioning

Whenever possible, development of the ITP should include the child, family and/or caregiver to make sure the treatment considers their expectations, reflects their priorities and incorporates their strengths. Clear, complete documentation is important so that everyone who serves and supports the child or youth easily understands the services being offered and how those services will address the concerns. The “golden thread” of documentation also establishes a written record of the course of treatment for payment and legal purposes.

The plan must be based on the child’s diagnosis, as well as standards of practice for mental health treatment for children with that diagnosis. The objectives must be achievable, measurable steps toward improved mental health. The ultimate goal is to reduce the duration and intensity of the child’s symptoms and service needs to the least intrusive level possible that sustains the child’s mental health.

Effective monitoring of treatment progress is essential to ensure children and youth reach their highest level of functioning and realize their treatment goals. Treatment plans should be reviewed as frequently as needed to verify the ongoing value and relevancy of existing goals. Providers must review individual treatment plans, at a minimum, every 90 days.

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