What is a Partial Hospitalization Program?

Learn more about how a partial hospitalization program (PHP) can help you get clean and achieve long-term sobriety here.

Understanding a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

A partial hospitalization program (PHP) is an intensive outpatient treatment program. It provides a structured, therapeutic environment while allowing you to live at home.

PHPs typically involve five to eight hours of treatment each day, four to five days a week. The length of treatment depends on the individual’s needs. It can last from one to several weeks. A team of professionals works together to develop an individualized treatment plan. You’ll receive comprehensive mental health services. These include psychotherapy, medication management, and skill-building activities.

How Can A Partial Hospitalization Program Help Me?

A partial hospitalization program can provide many benefits. It can help individuals develop the skills to manage their mental health disorders. These skills include improved communication, problem-solving, and coping strategies.

It also provides a supportive environment that fosters connections with individuals in similar situations. This promotes feelings of acceptance and understanding. These feelings can be beneficial in managing mental health symptoms.1

Effectiveness of a Partial Hospitalization Program

According to a study, roughly 70% of alcoholics who went through a PHP saw significant improvement in their symptoms.2 PHPs also decrease the risk of hospitalization and relapse. Regular care and support make it easier to manage symptoms and sustain recovery.3

A Partial Hospitalization Program vs. Other Treatment Options

About 1 in 5 Americans suffer from a mental illness in any given year. Treatment for mental health issues can be provided at varying levels of care. It can be broadly categorized into three tiers: inpatient, partial hospitalization program (PHP), and outpatient.4

Inpatient Programs

Inpatient care is the most intensive level of care. It includes 24-hour monitoring and support in a hospital or clinic setting. Inpatient programs are usually short-term, typically lasting up to thirty days.


A partial hospitalization program (PHP) is a step down from inpatient care. It provides inpatient-level care without 24-hour monitoring.

Outpatient Programs

The least intensive form of care is an outpatient program. This may include standard outpatient programs (SOP) or intensive outpatient programs (IOP).

Standard outpatient programs provide treatment on an as-needed basis. In contrast, intensive outpatient programs offer more frequent visits and longer sessions. They also provide additional services such as medication management, educational classes, and family counseling.

Outpatient Behavioral Health

Which Level Should You Choose?

The level of care you choose should be based on your individual needs. Consider factors such as the severity of symptoms, current treatment goals, and access to support.

Consider Your Symptoms

If you are in crisis and need immediate help, inpatient care may be the best option. If symptoms are less severe but still causing a significant disruption to your life, a partial hospitalization program (PHP) is a reasonable choice.

Outpatient programs are suitable for those with milder mental health conditions that can be managed in the community setting. SOPs are appropriate for individuals who have access to support and can benefit from light treatment. IOPs may be useful if you’re looking need more guidance and cannot commit to PHP or inpatient care due to work or family commitments.

Consider Cost

As an alternative inpatient, a partial hospitalization program (PHP) has proven to be better in terms of cost-effectiveness and duration. In a study, PHPs have been shown to be more effective in reducing symptoms than standard psychiatric programs. There was also a decrease in medication use, with only 38% of patients needing medication compared to 78% in the standard psychiatric program.5

Who Can Benefit From a Partial Hospitalization Program?

Partial hospitalization programs can benefit people suffering from various mental health disorders. These include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, and substance abuse. Consider the criteria below when searching for treatment options.

Basic PHP Criteria

You must meet specific criteria to be eligible for a partial hospitalization program. These include:
  • Being over the age of 18 (underage individuals may be able to take part in a partial hospitalization program with parental consent)
  • Having an acute psychiatric condition requiring intensive treatment
  • Showing a willingness to take part in the program
  • Having adequate support at home or being able to live independently

Additional PHP Candidate Criteria

In general, PHPs are suitable for those who need support but can still function on a day-to-day basis. It is not recommended for individuals who need 24-hour care or are in danger of harming themselves or others. Candidates for a PHP may also include people who:
  • Show signs of a mental health disorder that need intensive therapeutic services
  • Need support and structure
  • Lack access to outpatient services or a supportive home environment
  • Need medication management and/or medical monitoring
  • Are at risk of hospitalization or relapse

Special Populations PHP Treatments

Partial hospitalization programs can also offer specialized treatment for certain populations. These can include:
  • Teens/adolescents
  • Elderly
  • Dually diagnosed (coexisting mental health and substance use disorders)
  • Military personnel or veterans
  • LGBTQ+
  • Culturally diverse groups


For teens, PHPs can provide an alternative to inpatient care that is more developmentally appropriate. During adolescence, the brain undergoes rapid changes that can make it difficult to process emotions and respond appropriately.
They may require more support in making decisions and managing symptoms than adults. On average, treatment can help reduce substance use by about 50% for teens.6


The elderly have unique needs when it comes to mental health treatment. As people age, physical and emotional health can deteriorate, leading to an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses.
PHPs can provide a safe and supportive environment while allowing the elderly to remain independent. Treatment can help reduce symptoms of mental illness, as well as manage medication and monitor medical conditions.

Dual Diagnosis

Dual diagnosis is a situation where an individual has both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder. It is estimated that about 25% of people with mental illness also abuse substances.7

Dual-diagnosis patients often require more intensive treatment to manage their conditions. PHPs can provide an integrated approach with both medical and psychological interventions tailored to their specific needs.


Veterans are at higher risk of suffering from mental health disorders due to their unique experiences. They often need specialized treatment that addresses their specific issues related to military services, such as PTSD, substance abuse, and depression.
According to the VA, about 7% of veterans have PTSD. This increases to 13% for women. Treating veterans for mental health is incredibly important as it can reduce their risk of suicide, substance abuse, and homelessness.8


The LGBTQ+ community has an increased risk of mental health issues due to discrimination and stigma. Studies have shown that these individuals are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and even suicide compared to the general population.

PHPs can provide a safe and welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ individuals. Treatment can help them process complex emotions, experiences, and identities while reducing the risk of substance abuse or self-harm.

Culturally Diverse Groups

Culturally diverse individuals may face additional barriers when accessing mental health treatment due to language and cultural differences. PHPs can provide a culturally competent approach with staff who speak the patient’s language and understand their cultural background.
Treatment can also address any potential biases or stigmas that may prevent the patient from getting help. This can include providing sensitive, nonjudgmental care while respecting the patient’s values and beliefs.

Drawbacks and Limitations of PHP

PHPs are designed to focus on stabilization and recovery. It may not be the best option if:
  • Your condition is severe or complex, a higher level of care may be necessary
  • There are safety concerns, such as thoughts of harming yourself or others
  • Unsafe home environment
  • Long-term substance abuse
  • You’re unable to commit to a set schedule

Severe Symptoms

Symptoms that affect you to the core, such as extreme depression, severe anxiety, psychosis, and bipolar disorder with psychotic features are beyond the scope of PHP. In these cases, inpatient care is necessary for safety reasons.

Unsafe Home Environment

PHP is designed to be an outpatient program, meaning the patient resides at home. If there are safety concerns in the home environment, such as domestic violence or neglect, it can be difficult for a patient to progress in treatment.

Long-Term Substance Abuse

Your body may have developed a physical dependence on drugs or alcohol. This means that withdrawal symptoms may occur if you suddenly stop using the substance. While detoxification can help reduce these symptoms, inpatient treatment may be needed to address any underlying medical or psychological issues.9

Commitment Issues

PHPs are structured programs that require regular commitment and adherence to treatment plans. If you are struggling with compliance, you cannot get the most out of treatment. You may need more one-on-one help from an outpatient provider or inpatient facility.

Is a Partial Hospitalization Program Still Worth Considering?

Even if a partial hospitalization program isn’t the best option for you, it can still be beneficial to your mental health recovery. Treatment is an ongoing process and you may need to transition to different levels of care as your condition changes. PHP can be a great stepping stone to other forms of treatment.

PHP Benefits

PHP offers several benefits for those struggling with mental health issues. These include:
  • Structure:- A structured program can provide a sense of stability, routine, and purpose while in treatment.
  • Relapse prevention: You’re closely monitored during treatment, making it easier to spot warning signs of relapse and act on them quickly.
  • Access to specialized care: Programs provide access to a variety of specialists and therapies, giving you the opportunity to explore different approaches.
  • Support system: Recovering with a community of peers can provide encouragement and motivation to stay on track.
  • Safety: PHPs provide a safe environment where you can focus on recovery without the potential distractions of everyday life.
  • Accountability: Regular attendance in treatment can help build accountability and responsibility for your progress.
  • Continuity of care: You have the same team throughout your treatment, allowing for more effective communication and developing a deeper understanding of your condition.
  • Access to community resources: PHPs provide referrals to community resources, such as support groups and sober living housing.
If you think a partial hospitalization program is the best choice for you, talk to your doctor or mental health professional about setting up an appointment. They can help determine if this is the right approach for your situation and how to get started.

What Kind of Treatment is Provided in a Partial Hospitalization Program?

PHP treatment typically includes individual and group therapy and medication management.

Individual Counseling

In individual sessions, a therapist works one-on-one with patients. The goal is to address the underlying causes of their mental health disorders. The focus is on developing coping skills and exploring alternative perspectives.

What is Individual Therapy?

Group Therapy

Group therapy provides a supportive environment where participants can share their experiences. They also have the opportunity to learn from each other. Many PHP programs incorporate 12-Step meetings. These meetings are based on a 12-Step program, where individuals support each other in recovery. They also act as a source of accountability.

Medication Management

Medication management ensures medications are properly taken and monitored. It also helps to identify any side effects or interactions between medications.

Other Evidence-Based Treatment

Evidence-based treatment is a key component of a partial hospitalization program. These therapies are proven effective for treating mental health disorders.
Common evidence-based treatment methods used in a partial hospitalization program include:
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): This focuses on identifying and changing negative or unhelpful thought patterns.
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT): This teaches skills to help manage emotions and decrease impulsivity.
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR uses eye movements to process and resolve traumatic memories.10
  • Motivational interviewing (MI): MI encourages behavior change and helps individuals identify their own motivations.
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT): This helps people accept their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors without judgment.
  • Traumatic incident reduction therapy (TIR): TIR helps individuals process and overcome traumatic events.
  • Experiential therapy: This helps patients overcome emotional barriers through expressive activities such as art therapy, music therapy, and/or recreational therapy.
Many PHPs also provide supportive aftercare services. These include case management, nutrition counseling, and vocational training.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Personalized Treatment Planning in a Partial Hospitalization Program

Your treatment team will help you create a plan that meets your needs and goals. They can also help you identify activities or lifestyle changes that will support your healing process. The treatment team may include:
  • Medical doctors
  • Psychiatrists
  • Psychologists
  • Social workers
  • Substance abuse counselors 
  • Therapists
  • Nutritionists
  • Nurses
  • Vocational counselors.
They will conduct a comprehensive evaluation to assess your needs. This includes assessing your mental health, substance use, physical health, and social functioning.

Medical History

Your treatment team will review your medical history to identify any underlying conditions or risk factors. They may also ask questions about your mental health and substance use history, such as:
  • Have you ever been diagnosed with a mental illness or addiction?
  • How long have you been using drugs or alcohol?
  • Are there any triggers that cause you to use drugs or alcohol?
  • Do you have a family history of mental illness or addiction?
  • Are there any physical or emotional symptoms that concern you?

Physical Exams and Lab Tests

The physical exam helps your treatment team identify any medical conditions that could be contributing to your mental health or substance use disorder.
Lab tests are used to measure levels of certain substances in your body, such as hormones, vitamins, and minerals. These results can help your doctor identify any imbalances that need to be addressed.

Psychological Testing

Your behavior can tell a lot about your mental health. Psychological testing helps them assess how you think, feel, and behave in certain situations.
These tests can also help identify any underlying conditions that may be impacting your mental health or substance use disorder.

Substance Use History

Your substance use history provides insight into your patterns of abuse, such as when and where you started using drugs or alcohol, the type of substances you use, and any attempts at recovery.

Social and Family History

Your social and family history can provide insight into how your environment affects your mental health and substance use disorder.
These questions may include:
  • How is your relationship with your family members?
  • Have there been any major changes in your life recently?
  • Are there any social or cultural factors that influence your decisions?

How Do You Know If PHP Is Successful?

Your treatment team will measure your progress to ensure you meet the program’s goals. They may use tools such as questionnaires and surveys, physical exams, lab tests, or interviews.

The outcomes of a partial hospitalization program can be evaluated in two ways:
  • Short-term outcomes: These are measured during your stay in the program and include things like how quickly you’re able to stay sober, your emotional stability, and your ability to take on new responsibilities.
  • Long-term outcomes: These are measured after you have completed the program. They look at things like whether or not you’ve been able to maintain sobriety, if you still require additional support, and if you’re able to live independently.
The information gathered from these evaluations will help your treatment team understand how effective the partial hospitalization program has been for you. This feedback can be used to make any necessary changes or improvements to the program in the future.

What to Expect After Completing a Partial Hospitalization Program

Completing a partial hospitalization program is an important milestone in the recovery process. It gives you the skills, knowledge, and strategies to navigate everyday life.
Your treatment team will assist you in developing an individualized discharge plan. This will include follow-up care, such as ongoing medication management and therapy. They can also find helpful support in your community. These resources may include 12-Step meetings, peer support groups, and sober living homes. These are great places for encouragement, camaraderie, and new friendships.

Virtual Aftercare Resources

Virtual resources like online support groups or mental health apps are great options. These resources can help you stay connected with professionals. They also help you track progress and access helpful information.

Telehealth Therapy Sessions

Telehealth services are also available for speaking with your therapist from home. This ensures you do not miss any important appointments or lose momentum in your recovery process.

What if I Need Further Help After Completing a Partial Hospitalization Program?

If you need more help, reach out to your treatment team. They will be able to discuss further options with you and determine the best course of action. One option may be an intensive outpatient program (IOP). This is a lower level of care that allows you to attend fewer hours in a structured setting.

Inpatient treatment may be necessary if your symptoms are severe. This is usually only recommended for short periods of time until you can stabilize your mental health.
partial hospitalization program

Essence Healthcare Partial Hospitalization Program Treatment

If you are seeking help at a partial hospitalization program, Essence Healthcare can help. At Essence, we understand that treatment is a personal journey. Our team will work with you to create an individualized plan that best meets your needs.

Our Team

Our team of skilled professionals is dedicated to helping you on your journey toward recovery. Our goal is to equip you with the necessary tools for sustainable recovery. We specialize in treating a wide variety of mental health and addiction disorders.

Our Treatment Options

Our partial hospitalization program considers any physical health issues you may have. We will work with your primary care provider to ensure that all your needs are being met. Dual-diagnosis treatment is also available to people struggling with co-occurring disorders.

We provide comprehensive holistic care in a compassionate and supportive environment. We strive to create a safe haven where you can heal and promote long-term recovery.

Contact Essence Healthcare Today

If you or a loved one are struggling with mental health or substance use disorders, know that you don’t have to go through it alone. We are here to guide you toward a brighter future. Together, we can make sure that recovery is within reach.

Table of Contents

Questions About Treatment?

We are a patient-first substance abuse and mental health treatment facility located in Los Angeles, California. At Essence Healthcare, we provide different levels of care from detoxification to drug rehab aftercare. Our team is standing by to address your questions. Your call is confidential and no obligation is required.