What Is IOP for Mental Health?
Although IOPs share some commonalities with partial hospitalization programs, they aren’t the same. Both are structured treatment plans, share similar treatment methods and don’t involve hospital stays. The difference is that participants in IOPs meet for fewer hours than those in a partial hospitalization program.
Intensive outpatient programs are ideal for those whose diagnosis doesn’t require a hospital stay and who have a strong support system at home but still need behavioral health treatment. Patients get many of the benefits of more intensive treatment — e.g., various types of therapy sessions, educational and nutritional programs — while still having the freedom and flexibility to meet outside responsibilities and pursue other life goals.
What Are the Benefits of IOP?
Patients benefit from IOP in several ways:
Life Skills Education
Psychological distress and addiction can overshadow other areas of life, making it difficult to complete normal, day-to-day tasks. For someone in the grip of those disorders, mundane responsibilities like grocery shopping, paying bills, going to work and even self-care can seem insurmountable.
Outpatient mental health treatment addresses this. The behavioral therapies in IOPs equip patients with the necessary tools to manage life again. Participants may work with a nutritionist to develop a healthy eating plan and practice self-care and stress-management techniques to handle living responsibilities.
Behavioral health practices are aimed at helping patients develop the confidence they need to face life again.
Mental Health can be isolating. One of the toughest parts of recovery is reintegrating into society, yet IOP participants must function in society while they receive treatment.
Learning how to integrate into the community is a fundamental part of any residential treatment program. Such programs may include relationship-building skills, vocational training and relapse management.
IOPs begin building a sense of community during treatment and help patients become a part of the community outside the treatment facility. Belonging is a core human need. Strong community connections often create a wider emotional support system, which lessens the chance for relapse.
Individual counseling is an important part of standard outpatient services. It gives those the opportunity to share their deepest fears and challenges, opening wounds to the light for healing. Licensed clinicians meet with patients individually and work with them to understand their specific needs and create a custom treatment plan.
While in traditional therapy patients may meet with therapists once a week, individual therapy sessions in IOPs occur more frequently.
In group therapy, licensed counselors facilitate support groups, encouraging group members to share experiences, challenges, fears and successes. These gatherings teach participants to be vulnerable in a nonjudgmental and supportive setting.
Knowing others in the group have similar circumstances diminishes the feeling of isolation so common to those seeking treatment. IOPs offer several types of group therapy, depending on where someone is at in their recovery.
Alta Loma Transformational Services, for example, offers process, recovery and family groups. Participating in group therapy provides members with peer support and helps them develop interpersonal skills as well.
Bad things happen in life. Standard outpatient programs, no matter how good, can’t change that. They can help patients learn how to approach life’s inevitable trials, though. Many of those in recovery programs have used alcohol or drugs as a way of escaping unpleasant realities.
IOP participants need to relearn how to problem-solve as part of avoiding relapse. IOPs help those in recovery improve their self-awareness and critical thinking skills. Participants learn to recognize harmful thought processes and learn productive ways to resolve dilemmas.
Since IOP participants are out in society while undergoing treatment, they can apply the problem-solving techniques from their program to real-life situations.