What is an Intensive Outpatient Program?

senior woman signing up for outpatient program

Living with mental illness or addiction is a constant struggle: a struggle to manage your symptoms, to avoid a relapse, and to build a fulfilling personal life. But while it may feel like you’re trapped in an endless cycle of pain and suffering, long-term recovery is possible with the help of a reputable treatment program.
Choosing the right program can be tough, though. Maybe you feel like you need a high level of care, but your current obligations won’t allow you to commit to inpatient treatment. Or maybe you’ve completed an inpatient program and you’re looking to extend your support system beyond traditional outpatient services. If so, then an intensive outpatient program may be the best solution to help you get your life back on track.

Choosing the right level of treatment

There are generally three levels of treatment available for mental illness or addiction: inpatient, outpatient, and intensive outpatient (IOP).
Inpatient treatment takes place in a residential facility and involves round-the-clock medical and psychological care in a controlled environment. This is usually reserved for people suffering with severe symptoms who require a great deal of oversight to achieve stability.
On the other end of the spectrum, there is outpatient treatment. Outpatient services are far less restrictive, enabling participants to go about their daily routines with minimal support structures. The goal is to help prevent relapse, manage symptoms, and develop a healthy, balanced, and independent life.
Somewhere in the middle are IOPs. Intensive outpatient programs offer the freedom and independence of traditional outpatient programs, but they also provide a more comprehensive treatment plan with longer and more frequent sessions.

What’s included in an intensive outpatient program

Since every patient receives an individualized treatment plan, no two intensive outpatient programs will look exactly the same. However, many IOPs include the following:

  • Group therapy. The foundation of most intensive outpatient programs is group counseling. These groups provide a supportive environment to encourage problem solving, strengthen interpersonal relationships, and build empathy. 
  • Individual counseling sessions. Meeting with psychologists and counselors one-on-one is crucial to prevent relapses, as well as to help identify triggers and develop coping mechanisms.
  • Education. Training and instruction is given on everything from learning basic life skills, to understanding the importance of personal health and hygiene, to honing relaxation and anger management techniques.
  • Medication management. Depending on your psychiatric diagnosis, you may be receiving medication to help you manage your symptoms. An IOP may include medication monitoring and management to ensure you’re receiving the right dosage.

Reasons to choose an intensive outpatient program

An IOP is an excellent choice for patients who are transitioning out of an inpatient treatment program and into an independent living situation. While it’s not right for everyone, here are some signs that intensive outpatient treatment may be right for you:

  • You’re not in need of detox.
  • You don’t pose a danger to yourself or others.
  • You have a caring home life with friends and family members around who support your recovery.
  • You want to continue participating in work, school, or other daily personal obligations while you receive treatment.

Alvarado Parkway Institute offers intensive outpatient treatment in San Diego

For over 35 years, Alvarado Parkway Institute has provided the San Diego area with both inpatient and outpatient mental health treatment. We offer a secure therapeutic environment to aid in your recovery, and we prioritize patient safety and treatment outcomes above all else.

Whether you need the structure and intensity of inpatient services, or the independence and support of an intensive outpatient program, we can provide you with comprehensive and competent care, customized to your individual needs.

Recovery is possible. Call us at (619) 667-6125 and end the cycle of pain and suffering today.