Outpatient vs Intensive Outpatient Programs: What’s Best for Me?

by | May 31, 2021 | Recovery Treatment Services

intensive outpatient programs

About 51.5 million American adults or one in five live with some level of mental illness. This includes behavioral, mental, or emotional disorders. The life impact can range from no impairment to severe life-impacting disorders.

Treatment options include inpatient, partial inpatient, outpatient, and intensive outpatient programs. Each level of care is tailored to meet the client’s needs. Keep reading to learn more about outpatient options.

2020’s Impact on America’s Mental Health

The Mental Health Association screened 1.5 million Americans between January and September 2020. They report that over eight in ten people had moderate to severe anxiety symptoms. The same was true for consistent depression since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March.

Over 178,000 participants reported frequent suicidal thoughts. In September 2020, 37 percent of people said they thought about suicide more than half of almost every day. Isolation and loneliness rated among the top three contributing factors.

Individuals ages 11 to 17 are also affected by the pandemic. Adolescents, especially LGBTQ+, represent a higher than average risk group.

They had higher rates of moderate to severe anxiety and depression. In September 2020, over half of the adolescents reported self-harm or suicidal thoughts.

What to Expect from Outpatient Programs

Some individuals need initial inpatient treatment and then may move to outpatient. Other patient’s needs can be met in outpatient settings. The goal of outpatient care is to teach coping strategies to manage stressors.

Outpatient services may range from short-term counseling to a long-term treatment plan. Care can include individual counseling, group therapy, and/or psychiatric services. Some situations require medical consultations and medication management.

Advantages of outpatient care include lower costs and increased flexibility. This provides the help needed while still working and engaging with friends and family. Participants may attend sessions once or twice a week.

Outpatient therapy patients must have the ability to function without constant support.  Often, they continue to live in a stress-inducing environment. Thus, therapy focuses on developing positive coping techniques.

Individuals with addiction disorders may benefit from inpatient and outpatient care. Deciding on the best treatment plan depends on several factors. These include mental health diagnosis, history of relapses, and their desire to change.

At times, the decision focuses on the patient’s safety and wellbeing. If the environment is unhealthy or unsafe, inpatient care may be the best choice. Most inpatient care plans transition to some type of outpatient care to provide ongoing support.

What Do Intensive Outpatient Programs Involve?

Intensive outpatient programs (IOP) involve a higher level of care. It’s an intermediary between inpatient and traditional outpatient treatment. Participants often attend sessions three to five times each week.

It’s common for treatment to last about three hours. IOP often involves participation for several months. Intensive outpatient treatment services may include the following components.

Accept Responsibility

Therapists will discuss and encourage you to take responsibility for program participation. If the individual isn’t invested in making a positive change, the program won’t work. Part of the counselor’s role is to help you achieve personal accountability.

Drug Testing

Many mental health disorders include drug and alcohol use as a method for coping. Thus, IOP programs routinely conduct unannounced drug testing.

When you get to your appointment, you’ll be asked to undergo the test. Depending on your situation, you may or may not have to comply.

Individual Therapy

Part of the program plan involves one-on-one counseling. This provides a private time to discuss your thoughts, worries, and feelings.

The therapist helps you identify things that trigger these responses. The next step is to work on finding ways to recognize and respond to these triggers in a healthy way.

Learn About Your Disorder

Learning about your disorder, such as depression, addiction, or anxiety is often helpful. This helps you understand why you feel or behave the way you do.

The counselor will also discuss and model positive social behaviors. This may include role-playing and behavioral reversal to help you practice new strategies.

You’ll receive positive reinforcement and corrective feedback. Sometimes, the therapist may give you “homework”. This gives you time between sessions to think about your feelings and work on behaviors.

Many times, a person’s emotional or physical responses have become habits. The counselor can help you see this. Then you can focus on creating healthier habits.

Interaction with Peers

Most IOP programs include group therapy sessions. This may include other individuals with similar mental health problems. Members share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences.

A counselor facilitates these meetings to provide guidance and feedback. Many people feel a sense of relief when they learn that they aren’t alone. Positive group interaction provides encouragement and support for achieving your goals.

Transition Steps

Many IOP participants have undergone inpatient treatment. For example, they may have completed a drug addiction program. When leaving this level of care, it’s important to have ongoing support.

When re-entering daily life, many people are met with the stressors that led to their problems. Without a solid support program, it’s easy to fall back into old habits and end up where you started.

IOP programs provide a step-down level of care. After completing IOP, many individuals move to outpatient counseling. This allows them to spend more time in their daily routine, but have routine check-ins.

Often, people achieve mental health by participating in therapy or support groups long-term.

Are You Looking for the Best Outpatient Program?

The key to successful mental health treatment is finding the right program. At Sober Life Treatment Center San Diego, we’re ready to meet your needs.

Our programs include partial hospital, intensive outpatient, and outpatient programs. We offer drug and alcohol addiction, mental health, and adolescent treatment.

We understand the need for mental health services during today’s ongoing crises. You’ll receive a psychiatric evaluation and medication management as needed. Our programs include individual and group therapy as well as case management.

Contact us today to learn more about our treatment plans and schedule a free consultation.

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