Mental Health Intensive Outpatient (IOP) Program

Mental Health Intensive Outpatient (IOP) Program

Is your current mental health therapy not covering your symptoms? Do you need more than weekly counseling? You don’t want to live in a hospital or clinic away from your family? If you are experiencing these issues, you might want to know about the mental health Intensive Outpatient (IOP) Program.

An intensive outpatient program provides comprehensive care while allowing you to return home after each session. It helps you to develop important life skills that allow you to manage stress and make healthy relationships.

We’re going to talk about everything from what an intensive outpatient program is to what happens afterward. Keep reading this article, and you’ll know everything you need to know!

Why is Mental Health Important?

But first of all, let’s understand what mental health is? And why is mental health important?

Mental health refers to emotional, social, and psychological well-being. It determines how we think, act, and feel. Maintaining positive mental health can help you cope with changes and stress, make healthy relationships, and remain positive.

The importance of Mental health is similar to physical health. Your mood directly affects your emotions. When you are mentally satisfied, you can enjoy life to its fullest.

Mental health issues interfere with daily life activities and relationships. Some common mental health issues are depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and dual diagnosis.

Substance abuse is very common with mental illness. A person becomes an alcohol or drug addict to cope with life. So, it is very important to get yourself or your loved ones treated.

There are several ways to treat mental health issues, including medications, talk therapy, and behavioral therapies. Many inpatients, as well as outpatient programs, are available. A treatment program is decided according to the patient’s mental status.

What is an Intensive Outpatient Program?

An intensive outpatient program (IOP) offers a high level of mental health care in an outpatient setting. IOP is a form of rehabilitation that allows patients to return home after visiting a treatment center for several hours per week.

This program is suitable for individuals with less severe conditions but still needing high-level care and monitoring. An intensive outpatient program is usually more preferable than standard outpatient programs for mental health care.

IOP primarily consists of group therapy. Groups allow the participants to improve their communication and get peer support.

Other therapies include individual therapy, medication management, vocational training, and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Mental health IOP treatment programs in Arizona generally used in the very best substance abuse healing consist of:

Mental Health IOP
Anxiety Treatment Program
Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program
Depression Treatment Program
PTSD Treatment Program

Who needs an Intensive Outpatient program?

IOP is a good option for individuals who

  • needs more support than weekly counseling
  • are recovering from mental illness
  • Requires comprehensive care
  • Are you on leave from work or school
  • Have a safe home environment

Intensive Outpatient program – the basics

An intensive outpatient program is a structured therapeutic environment that offers 3 to 4 hour-long sessions 3 to 5 times per week. But the duration varies from program to program.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), clients should visit a facility for 9 to 20 hours per week.

IOP is considered level 2 of treatment that offers an intense level of care than standard outpatient programs. A typical IOP lasts for 5 to 8 weeks. During that time, individuals engage in different groups and take breaks in between.

The first step in IOPs is assessing the patient’s condition, symptoms, and mental status. A therapist then makes a recovery plan depending on the patient’s condition.

The client and therapist work together on a schedule to finalize session hours and days. This schedule can be modified depending on how the client responds to treatment.

Many centers offer IOPs on weekdays. Also, the most program offers day and evenings programs. IOP is a level 2 treatment.

The different types of groups in IOPs include:

  • Skill-building group
  • Relapse prevention
  • Family groups
  • Co-dependency support group
  • Refusal training
  • 12-steps group

Goals of Intensive Outpatient Program:

Each intensive outpatient program is designated to address the specific issue of patients. For example, people with social anxiety will learn skills to identify the possible triggers that cause an episode. Generally, an intensive outpatient program aims at

  • Improving mental health skills
  • Determining the main cause of a problem by addressing psycho-social issues
  • Learning how to express your feelings and ask for help
  • Improving the ability to cope with stress and triggers
  • Behavioral changes
  • Recognizing unhealthy behaviors
  • Enhancing self-awareness
  • Improving the quality of life
  • Developing a support system (e.g., 12-group support system)

Benefits of the IOP program:

  1. Like any other treatment program, an intensive outpatient program has its advantages and disadvantages.
  2. IOP is less expensive than most inpatient or rehabilitation treatment programs
  3. You can receive rehab-like services while being able to return home after each session.
  4. You can dig deeper into your problems and address several issues through group therapy.

However, it may negatively affect your progress if you return to an environment that worsens your condition. Only people with a safe home environment get full advantage from an intensive outpatient program.

Length of an IOP program:

Typical intensive outpatient programs program last about 5 to 8 weeks and generally range from 6 to 30 hours per week. But the time and length of an IOP treatment can be adjusted according to the patient’s needs and how the patient responds to treatment.

For example, a person who remains clean and develops coping skills requires fewer hours per week. On the other hand, some patients whose condition remains the same may need a higher level of care.

Cost of Intensive Outpatient Program:

The cost of the intensive outpatient program varies from program to program. The price depends on services; premium programs are more expensive than standard ones and offer more services.

The average price of an intensive outpatient program is $3,000 to $10 000. Payment options include insurance (provides full or partial coverage), sliding scale (based on monthly income), financing (charges included in monthly bills or weekly at a slower pace), and free of cost (as in public centers).

Services provided in an Intensive Outpatient Program:

Services provided in the intensive outpatient program are:

Group therapy: group therapy is the core service of intensive outpatient programs. Group therapy has proven as effective as individual therapy to improve mental illness. According to the SAMHSA, a single group should contain 8 to 15 members. However, some private settings allow smaller groups to offer more individual focus.

How will group therapy help you?

Group therapy will help you or your loved ones in the following ways:

  • Groups serve as a new source of socialization with people having the same problems
  • It helps you to improve communication skills
  • It offers a safe environment where people with similar issues provide moral support and honest feedback.
  • It can boost healthy relationships and empathy among group members. 

Types of groups:

Groups are made according to the type of treatment and skills required to ensure recovery. Common types of groups found in IOPs are:

  1. Family groups – helps both patient and his family to support each other. People will learn how mental issues affect their relationship and how to deal with this.
  2. Psychoeducational groups – offer emotional and moral support to each other. Awareness about a mental issue, its symptoms, and causes is provided to clients. This group targets ineffective beliefs and develops problem-solving skills.
  3. Skill-development groups – individuals practice specific behaviors and skills in a safe environment. These skills include:
  4. Assertive training – Clients learn about assertive, aggressive, and passive behaviors and maintain positive behavior.
  5. Stress management – clients learn techniques to deal with stress and identify situations that trigger stress.
  6. Relapse prevention group – these groups help clients to recognize triggers and high-risk situations and develop skills to avoid particular situations.

Individual Therapy 

Most mental health IOPs offer individual therapy, at least one session per week. Therapists help you understand your condition and improve your coping skills while establishing a close and honest relationship.

This therapy allows you to address individual issues which are not covered in group therapy. You’ll learn how to take control and responds to the challenges of life. Also, individual therapy is ideal for patients who are not comfortable in public, allowing them individual space to express themselves.

Medicine Management Therapy

Mental health IOP treatment offers medication management services, including ongoing evaluation of symptoms, diagnosis, and medication interventions in treatment. Each Individual is monitored 24/7 to ensure progress and recovery. Education is provided to patients about proper medication usage, adverse effects, and benefits of the medication. Patients are motivated to take treatment and maintain consistency.

Complementary therapies

Many mental health IOPs offer alternative therapies such as music therapy, adventure therapy, or art therapy to complement IOP treatment goals. The patient will learn nonverbal ways to express themselves and ultimately help in recovery. The trained therapist supervises these sessions in a group setting.

Matrix Model

The matrix model involves different approaches such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and 12-step facilitation. The client will learn skills to manage stress and communicates with peers.

Motivational interviewing – The therapist helps you to address your hesitation and reluctance to start a treatment. The therapist will ask you to analyze how medications disturb their daily activities and help them develop healthy relationships.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) – CBT teaches you how to eliminate self-destructive behaviors and learn about stressors. It also helps you to acquire skills to deal with these stressors.

12-step facilitation – it offers education about principles of the 12-step program and 12-step groups in communities. 12-step groups include Alcoholic Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous groups. They usually hold meeting at the IOPs facility.

Drug testing/monitoring alcohol and substance use 

This service is very important for an individual with a dual diagnosis. Drug testing is normal to any treatment. It ensures patient’s adherence to program rules and identification of drug abusers in a group. Some intensive outpatient programs test 2 to 3 times a week, while some test only once a week. Random testing is also done.

Detox Program

A few IOPs offers medical detoxification services to the patient with dual diagnosis (mental issue and substance abuse). But most IOPs will probably refer you to a hospital or residential facility before you begin treatment with them.

Crisis care:

Crisis care is available for 24 hours of 7-day-a-week for those who require immediate care and after-hours coverage. Trained personnel provide these services to avoid unnecessary hospitalization. On-call physicians screen inquiries and answer them. So, if your loved ones have suicidal thoughts or acute medical events, feel free to ask for help.

Online IOP program:

IOP mental care services are also delivered via online video sessions or email. You can talk to a mental health expert from the comfort of your home.

This is suitable for people who cannot leave their house due to illness, pain, or mortality. Also, people living in remote or underserved areas can get benefits from this program.

Criteria for choosing an Intensive Outpatient program

While choosing an intensive outpatient program, ensure that the center provides:

  1. Ongoing and evidence-based treatment – because the duration of treatment is important for sustained recovery. A typical IOP runs for 5 to 8 weeks, but it can be adjusted according to the patient’s needs. For instance, some clients may transition to a less intensive level of care after 30 days. Evidence treatment is preferred and helps in prompt recovery.
  2. 2. Access to treatment – the treatment should be accessible. You don’t require to wait for a long period. Public treatment programs often have a long waiting list. Hence, if you can, enroll in a private IOP to ensure immediate entry to treatment.
  3. Personalized care – some IOPs provide customized treatment that offers a solution to every individual problem and progress.
  4. Medical care – the chosen program should have medical care facilities to complement patient’s needs. Physicians and other health facilities should be available for clients.
  5. Social support – includes support group meetings and peer support and a post-treatment plan for developing a strong support system to avoid relapse.

Examples of Intensive Outpatient program programs

Intensive outpatient programs can be tapered according to patient needs. There are different IOP programs available that target specific issues. For example:

  1. Gender-specific IOP program
  2. IOP programs for young adults
  3. IOP programs for teens
  4. IOP programs for adults with depression and anxiety
  5. IOP programs for substance use
  6. IOP programs for patients with a tendency of self-harm and violence

Intensive Outpatient program vs. Residential program

For many individuals, living in a hospital, clinic, or rehab is difficult. IOP is an alternate for them. You can receive rehab-like treatment while being able to return home daily. But it also poses a threat by being returning to an environment that might trigger your condition.

Sometimes, people step down to a lower level of care after finishing a rehab program successfully. This will help them to return to their normal routine gradually while receiving care and support.

But patients with severe and long-standing addiction or dual diagnosis cases are referred to inpatient treatment settings for the highest level of care and 24-hour monitoring. Such settings include residential centers or psychiatric hospitals. But they are not feasible for everyone.

Inpatient or residential treatment is often expensive than IOP and requires living in a facility away from home and family.

Inpatient residential settings are best for individuals living in a stressful environment. Patients are kept in these centers for an extended period to receive immersive care.

Residential centers provide facilities that are not part of the IOP program, including housing, food, medical care, and recreational activities.

Tips that will help you with recovery:

  1. Along with treatment, the following tips also help you in recovery.
  2. Visit a therapist or support group to remain motivated.
  3. Engage yourself in activities you like.
  4. Support others and provide education to new members
  5. Exercise daily and get enough sleep
  6. Pen down your problems and possible solutions to these problems. And discuss it with your therapist on the next visit.

What to do after the Intensive Outpatient program?

The path to wellness needs commitment, consistency, and adherence to the treatment plan.

Finishing an IOP doesn’t mean you are completely cured. You still need ongoing care for mental illness. Visit a therapist to determine the next step. Your therapist will probably recommend you to continue with less intense care. Further options are:

  • Other community resources, including family therapy or vocational training
  • 12-step groups
  • Regular monitoring via phones or online
  • A weekly visit to a psychologist
  • Group therapy for fewer hours, such as 1 to 2 hour per week

Depending on your situation, a therapist may refer to a combination of these. Meeting with a therapist or support group helps you stay motivated.

The intensive outpatient plan involves several therapies such as group therapy, medication management therapy, individual therapy, case management, and motivational education. The main component is group therapy. Groups provide moral support and motivation to remain consistent.

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