What to Expect in an Intensive Outpatient Program
Discover everything you need to know about an intensive outpatient program (IOP) and where to find help.
What Is an Intensive Outpatient Program?
An intensive outpatient program (IOP) is a treatment option that provides more comprehensive care than traditional outpatient programs. It is essentially an outpatient program that is more structured for optimal recovery. IOPs help patients manage mental health and substance use disorders like depression, eating disorders, and alcohol addiction.
Intensive outpatient programs provide less intensive care than inpatient or partial hospitalization programs. However, this does not downplay the relevance and usefulness of this treatment option. IOPs provide structured, thorough treatment for those who do not require twenty-four-seven monitoring. These programs also act as the next step after inpatient treatment. Evidence indicates that IOPs can significantly reduce substance use and can be as effective as inpatient treatment.1
How Does an Intensive Outpatient Program Work?
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What Does a Day in an Intensive Outpatient Program Look Like?
An average day in an intensive outpatient program can vary depending on the patient’s treatment plan. Nonetheless, typical days include checking in, meeting with a healthcare provider, participating in individual or group therapy, and checking out.
Activities to Expect in an Intensive Outpatient Program
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- Skills training
- Holistic activities
In-Depth Look at Intensive Outpatient Program Activities
- Check-Ins/Check-Outs: Check-ins and check-outs assess patients’ progress over the last week or month, revealing how well they are responding to treatment. This guides the physician on whether to make changes to the treatment plan or not. With multiple check-ins, healthcare professionals can promptly identify and address problems.
- Individual Therapy: During individual therapy, patients discuss their conditions, concerns, and experiences with a trained therapist. They collaboratively create and touch base on treatment goals, develop coping skills, and learn how to manage symptoms.
- Group Therapy: Group therapy offers elements of individual therapy that have been altered to work in group settings. It adds a social aspect, allowing people the opportunity to communicate and relate with others in similar situations.
- Skills Training: Skills training involves trained professionals helping patients develop various skills to improve daily life. These skills can include ways to cope with symptoms, handle stress, manage cravings, and more.
- Holistic Activities: Art, mindfulness, meditation, and other holistic activities have proven beneficial for people with mental health issues. They can help improve self-awareness, provide new perspectives on life, and teach relaxation and calming techniques.
While the schedule may vary from one day to another, the purpose of an intensive outpatient program remains—to provide the structure and support required for healing and recovery.
Do Intensive Outpatient Programs Include Families in the Treatment Process?
Support from family members plays a crucial role in treatment. IOPs may include various options to help families during the treatment and recovery process. Training sessions aim to improve their understanding of the patient’s condition and their treatment program. These sessions enable improved communication and allow everyone to determine where they stand and how they can contribute positively to treatment.
Family therapy helps relationship dynamics that mental health issues or substance abuse may have stressed. Unhealthy states in relationships can increase the propensity to unhealthy behaviors and push patients further away from their treatment goals. Family support is beneficial during and after an intensive outpatient program. It helps increase the success of the treatment and creates a more supportive environment.
Alternative Intensive Outpatient Program Options
Inpatient treatment provides twenty-four-hour medical supervision and support for individuals with severe mental health issues or addiction. This program is especially beneficial for those who need a more intensive level of care than IOPs can provide. It requires patients to stay at the facility for a few days to a few weeks.
Inpatient Behavioral Health for Addiction or Mental Wellness
Partial Hospitalization Programs
A partial hospitalization program (PHP) provides a supportive and structured environment for individuals who require intensive treatment without twenty-four-hour supervision. It is one step down from inpatient treatment, so individuals with more severe disorders usually enter this program. PHPs involve at least twenty hours of therapy and other daily treatment activities per week.3
An outpatient program provides individual and group therapy sessions for patients with mild mental health or substance use disorders. This program is more beneficial for those who do not require the level of support provided by intensive treatment options like an intensive outpatient program.
Outpatient programs are ideal for patients who have completed inpatient programs or need to balance treatment schedules and their daily routines.
How Is an Intensive Outpatient Program Different From Other Forms of Treatment?
When Are Intensive Outpatient Programs the Most Effective?
For example, suppose you are struggling with alcohol addiction and have a stable home environment. In that case, you may benefit from an IOP that provides intensive therapy, support groups, and other resources to help you stay sober while still being able to work, spend time with family, or attend school.
IOPs provide services that can address co-occurring disorders, such as depression and opioid use disorder. These programs offer specialized and individualized treatment, consisting of therapeutic methods that treat multiple concerns simultaneously.
Co-Occurring Disorders or Dual Diagnosis
Transitioning From Inpatient Treatment
For example, if you just completed a two-week inpatient program for opioid use disorder, you may still require additional treatment. Your treatment team will assign you to an IOP for ongoing therapy, relapse prevention, and continued support.
Supportive Home Environment
When Are Intensive Outpatient Programs Ineffective?
Individuals with severe addiction may not benefit from an intensive outpatient program, as they often require around-the-clock supervision. During medical detox, withdrawal symptoms can be serious and even life-threatening if not treated. Inpatient treatment is better suited for adequate management of withdrawal symptoms and support for other potential complications. Therefore, physicians are more likely to recommend inpatient programs in such cases.
Lack of Motivation or Commitment
Intensive outpatient programs require more effort and commitment compared to regular outpatient programs. Individuals not committed to their recovery may not benefit from these programs. A strong commitment to wellness and sobriety increases participation and treatment success.
Complex Co-Occurring Medical Conditions
Complex co-occurring medical conditions usually require more intensive medical care and supervision than an intensive outpatient program may provide. Physicians are likely to consider treatment programs that allow twenty-four-hour supervision and support to attain treatment outcomes.
Unstable Living Environment
Limited Support System
Holistic Intensive Outpatient Program Practices
Many holistic healing practices can benefit individuals in and out of intensive outpatient programs. These practices can help promote overall wellness and complement traditional therapy and treatments.
Mindfulness and Meditation
Outdoor Adventure Therapy
Outdoor adventure therapy includes a range of outdoor activities like rock climbing, camping, and hiking. By spending time in nature, they can induce positive emotional and behavioral changes in individuals dealing with mental health issues. Mental health professionals usually supervise these activities and provide encouragement and support.
The power of music can benefit people dealing with mental health issues. Music therapy reduces stress, provides a means of self-expression, and improves mood by creating experiences through listening, playing, singing, or composing music.5
Nutrition and Exercise
Art therapy allows creative expression for the promotion of healing and well-being. It can be beneficial for individuals who are struggling with emotional or mental health issues.7
Treatment at Essence Health & Wellness
- Medical Detox
- Sub-Acute Detox
- Inpatient Drug Rehab
- Partial Hospitalization Program
- Intensive Outpatient Program
- Outpatient Drug Program
- Sober Living
- Drug Rehab Aftercare
Telehealth Treatment Opportunities
Inpatient Behavioral Health for Addiction or Mental Wellness
Intensive Outpatient Program at Essence
If you’re looking for individualized care, Essence is an excellent resource. Please contact us today if you have any questions or are interested in scheduling a consultation