Assisted Outpatient Treatment
Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) is court oversight of mandatory outpatient treatment by a civil court order. It is intended for adults with severe mental illness (such as Schizophrenia or bipolar disorder) who have difficulty adhering to mental health treatment on a voluntary basis. If an individual meets the criteria for AOT and the commitment is deemed appropriate by the court, an AOT court order mandates the individual to outpatient mental health treatment. If the individual fails to adhere to the AOT court order, the individual could potentially be brought in front of the Judge again, or be ordered to appear more frequently in front of the Judge, or be ordered for a level of care assessment.
AOT is a civil court order and is not intended to punish an individual for not participating in treatment. AOT is meant to encourage participation in treatment with reminders and support.
To meet the criteria* for AOT, an individual's behavior must demonstrate all four of the following:
- The person is unlikely to survive safely in the community without supervision, based on a clinical determination.” (50 P.S. § 7301(c)(1)(i)).
- “The person has a lack of voluntary adherence to treatment for mental illness and one of the following applies:
- Within the 12 months prior to the filing of a petition seeking AOT, the person’s failure to adhere to treatment has been a significant factor in necessitating involuntary inpatient hospitalization or receipt of services in a forensic or other mental health unit of a correctional facility.
- Within 48 months prior to the filing of a petition seeking court ordered AOT, the person’s failure to adhere to treatment resulted in one or more acts of serious violent behavior towards others or himself or threats of or attempts at serious physical harm to others or himself.”
- “The person, as a result of the person’s mental illness, is unlikely to voluntarily participate in necessary treatment and the person previously has been offered voluntary treatment services but has not accepted or has refused to participate on a sustained basis in voluntary treatment.”
- “Based on the person’s treatment history and current behavior, the person is in need of treatment in order to prevent a relapse or deterioration that would be likely to result in substantial risk of serious harm to others or himself.”
For more information on AOT from the Treatment Advocacy Center: www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org.
To speak with someone regarding an AOT petition, please call Bucks County Behavioral Health & Developmental Programs at 215-444-2800.
*The need for AOT under Act 2018-106 (Oct. 24, 2018) (Act 106) is established if the court finds “clear and convincing evidence” that an individual would benefit from AOT because his or her behavior demonstrates all four of the following (listed above).