Standards for public agencies

2020 Edition

Mental Health and/or Substance Use Services (PA-MHSU) 6: Therapeutic Services

Persons served receive ongoing, coordinated, trauma-informed therapeutic services based on their assessed needs and goals.
NA The agency provides Diagnosis, Assessment, and Referral Services only.
2020 Edition




Individuals and families who receive Mental Health and/or Substance Use Services improve social, emotional, psychological, cognitive, and family functioning and attain recovery and wellness.
Note: For detoxification treatment programs, please refer to the interpretation at PA-MHSU 5.
Full Implementation, Outstanding Performance
A rating of (1) indicates that the agency's practices fully meet the standard and reflect a high level of capacity.  
  • All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, with rare or no exceptions: exceptions do not impact service quality or agency performance. 
Substantial Implementation, Good Performance
A rating of (2) indicates that an agency's infrastructure and practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement.
  • The majority of the standards requirements have been met and the basic framework required by the standard has been implemented. 
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality or agency performance.

Partial Implementation, Concerning Performance
A rating of (3) indicates that the agency's observed infrastructure and/or practices require significant improvement.  

  • The agency has not implemented the basic framework of the standard but instead has in place only part of this framework.  
  • Omissions or exceptions to the practices outlined in the standard occur regularly, or practices are implemented in a cursory or haphazard manner.  
  • Service quality or agency functioning may be compromised.  
  • Capacity is at a basic level.
Unsatisfactory Implementation or Performance
A rating of (4) indicates that implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all.  
  • The agency’s observed service delivery infrastructure and practices are weak or non-existent; or show signs of neglect, stagnation, or deterioration.
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Referral procedures
  • Copies of agreements with cooperating service providers and/or community resource and referral list, as applicable
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Persons served
  • Review case records

PA-MHSU 6.01

Persons served receive psychosocial, therapeutic and educational interventions that are:
  1. matched with the assessed needs, age, developmental level, and personal goals of the service recipient; and
  2. provided in individual, family, and/or group format.


For detoxification treatment programs, therapeutic and educational interventions may be limited given the length of treatment and the service recipient's treatment progress.

PA-MHSU 6.02

The agency directly provides or makes referrals for a comprehensive range of prevention and treatment services, including:
  1. psychotherapy; 
  2. illness management and psychoeducation interventions;
  3. coping skills training;
  4. relapse prevention; 
  5. acute care; 
  6. support groups and self-help referrals;
  7. detoxification;
  8. inpatient care; 
  9. intensive outpatient care; 
  10. medical care; 
  11. psychiatric rehabilitation; and 
  12. targeted case management services.

PA-MHSU 6.03

Individuals and their families, when appropriate, are connected with peer support services, either directly or by referral, appropriate to their request or need for service.
Note: Peer support refers to services provided by individuals who have shared, lived experience. Services promote resiliency and recovery and can include peer recovery groups, peer-to-peer counseling, peer mentoring or coaching, family and youth peer support or other consumer-run services.