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Is PHP the Same as IOP?

March 27th, 2024


What do you think of when you think of mental health treatments? You might envision therapy sessions, getting medication prescribed, going away to a residential or rehabilitation program, or even spending time in the hospital. However, Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs) and Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs) often don't come immediately to mind, despite their significant roles.

These lesser-known alternatives are treatment options that bridge the gap between weekly outpatient therapy and residential treatment or full hospitalization. They effectively help address critical questions for those navigating the mental health care such as: "What options exist when outpatient therapy isn’t enough?” and What’s next after inpatient hospitalization or a residential program?”

These programs are designed to provide a more flexible yet structured support system, tailored to individual needs, fostering continuity and stability in one's journey toward mental well-being. Keep reading to explore more on IOP and PHP programs, what they are, and how they can help you.

What Does IOP Stand For?

IOP stands for Intensive Outpatient Program. It's a type of treatment designed to provide support and therapy to individuals who need more than traditional outpatient therapy but do not require round-the-clock supervision like that provided in inpatient or residential treatment facilities. IOPs offer a structured environment and typically involve several hours of therapy per day, several days a week, allowing participants to continue with their daily lives and responsibilities.

What is PHP in Therapy?

In therapy, PHP stands for Partial Hospitalization Program. It's a type of program designed to provide intensive psychiatric care and support for individuals who require more assistance than is typically available through outpatient services but do not need 24-hour supervision provided by inpatient hospitalization. PHPs serve as a middle ground, offering a structured therapeutic environment during the day, where participants can engage in various therapeutic activities, including group therapy, individual counseling, and skill-building workshops.

Participants typically attend the program for several hours a day, five to seven days a week, depending on the program's structure and the individual's needs. This setup allows individuals to return home or to a supportive living environment at the end of the day, maintaining some level of normalcy and continuity with their daily lives.

What is The Difference Between IOP Program and PHP Program?

The difference between Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) and Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP) primarily lies in the intensity and structure of the care provided. Both are designed to offer more support than traditional outpatient therapy but differ in their approach and the level of care they provide.

  • Intensity of Treatment: PHPs are more intensive than IOPs, requiring more hours per day of participation.
  • Scheduling Flexibility: IOPs offer more flexibility, allowing individuals to engage in their regular daily activities outside of treatment.
  • Care Provided: While both provide mental health services, PHPs often include a broader range of services, including medical oversight, that might be necessary for individuals with more severe symptoms or who are at a higher risk of relapse.

Is PHP or IOP Right For Me?

Determining whether a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) or an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) is the right fit depends on several individual factors, including your current mental health status, your daily responsibilities, and the level of support you require. Here's a guide to help you make an informed decision:

  • Evaluating Your Mental Health Needs: If you're grappling with considerable distress due to mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, dissociative disorders, mood disorders, substance use, eating disorders, or personality disorders, and it's substantially affecting your daily life.
  • Seeking Beyond Weekly Therapy: You find that weekly therapy sessions are insufficient for managing your condition, requiring a more supportive and structured intervention without the necessity for round-the-clock care.
  • Outpatient Therapy Limitations: Your current outpatient therapy feels inadequate, with symptoms that are progressively impairing your functionality.
  • Transitioning from Inpatient Care: After completing an inpatient treatment program, you're looking for a structured step-down solution, concerned that weekly therapy alone won't meet your needs.
  • Commitment to Treatment: You're prepared to dedicate at least 9 hours weekly to engage in mental health services for a minimum duration of 4 weeks.
  • Home Environment Safety: You have a stable and safe home environment that supports returning home after daily treatment sessions and overnight stays.
  • Professional Recommendation: Your healthcare provider has suggested exploring an IOP or PHP as viable options for your continued mental health care.

PHP is typically suited for those needing intensive, structured support without the need for hospitalization, while IOP is better for those who require a balance between significant support and maintaining their daily commitments. Ultimately, consulting with a mental health professional can provide personalized advice and help you decide which option aligns best with your specific needs and circumstances.

IOP and PHP Therapy Tiers

IOPs and PHPs provide more support for participants than outpatient therapy but less support than inpatient hospitalization. If Tier I is the lowest level of support and Tier IV is the highest level of support, the following list shows where IOPs and PHPs rank:

Tier I: Outpatient Therapy

Tier I, outpatient therapy, typically involves a weekly meeting with a therapist. The therapist may accommodate a patient needing more support by arranging to meet two times per week. If a patient needs more individualized support beyond two sessions per week, the outpatient therapist may refer them to a higher level of care, such as an IOP.

Tier II: Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

Tier II, IOPs, typically involve 9 to 20 hours a week of service. This often looks like 3-5 hours of services 3-4 days per week though scheduling varies by program. IOPs often include skill groups, process groups, and individual therapy. They may also include medication management and family counseling. IOPs allow participants to receive a higher level of support than outpatient therapy while also allowing participants to continue outside activities such as work, school, or responsibilities at home.

Tier III: Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

Tier III, PHPs, usually include 20 to 40 hours of services per week. This varies by program but can look like 4-8 hours of service per day for 5-7 days per week. PHPs provide a higher level of structure along with a greater weekly time commitment. Individuals in PHPs put work, school, and other responsibilities on hold. PHP participants, like IOP participants, return to their homes after a day of programming.

Tier IV: Residential Treatment

Tier IV, residential treatment, provides 24-hour support outside of a hospital setting. Participants move into residential facilities for 30-90 days and receive therapeutic services. Treatment centers may have a defined focus like treatment of substance use disorders or eating disorders. 

Tier V: Inpatient Hospitalization

Tier V, inpatient hospitalization, is the highest level of care and provides 24-hour support. Patients can choose to enter inpatient treatment. Some patients also enter inpatient treatment involuntarily. This most often happens when patients are assessed to be a danger to themselves or others. Residential programs are also worth mentioning. Residential programs

Is PHP The Same as IPO?

IOPs and PHPs typically last 4 to 12 weeks. Programs may work with outpatient providers, with the patient's consent, to help facilitate a smooth transition of care.

What Should I Expect from IOP and PHP Therapy Sessions? 

A major component of IOP and PHP treatment is group therapy. Different types of group therapy include:

  • Skills Groups: Skills groups often incorporate skills from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) but can also include groups built on other types of therapy. CBT skills groups focus on goal setting, examination of cognitive distortions, emotion identification, discussion of coping skills, and thought restructuring/reframing. DBT skills groups focus on mindfulness, emotional regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness.
  • Psychoeducation Groups: Psychoeducation Groups focus on learning about mental health disorders and their treatment.
  • Process Groups: Process groups allow participants to share their experiences with the group and hear about the experiences of others. Participants often find relief in sharing, connectedness to one another in their shared experiences, empathy for themselves and others, and the opportunity to share insight and offer support.
  • Other Groups: IOPs and PHPs may offer additional types of groups such as art therapy groups, animal-assisted therapy groups, and movement groups such as yoga.

IOP and PHP participants can also expect to meet with their therapist one to two times per week. Therapists have individualized approaches, but participants can expect therapists to create a space for them to process their thoughts and feelings, reinforce skills learned in groups, and create a treatment and discharge plan. Family counseling sessions may also be integrated into treatment. 

How Can I Prepare for an IOP or PHP? 

If you have a current provider, consider talking with them about your interest in an IOP or PHP. They may be able to recommend programs in the area and help you evaluate the pros and cons of different types of programs.

  • Evaluate Your Needs: Collaborate with your current healthcare provider to discuss your interest in an IOP or PHP. Their insights can guide you in choosing the program that aligns best with your needs, and they may offer recommendations for reputable programs in your area.
  • Conduct Thorough Research: Explore IOPs and PHPs within your vicinity, identifying ones that resonate with your specific mental health requirements. Consider conducting interviews or visiting a few to gauge which environment feels most supportive and aligns with your recovery goals.
  • Understand Financial Commitments: Investigate the cost implications of the programs you're considering and verify the extent of your insurance coverage. This step is essential to ensure that the program you choose is financially feasible.
  • Adjust Your Schedule and Responsibilities: Acknowledge the significant time commitment required by both IOPs and PHPs. If opting for an IOP, consider reducing work hours or other responsibilities to accommodate your treatment schedule.
  • Utilize Available Leave Options: If you're leaning towards a PHP, explore the possibility of applying for Short-Term Disability or leveraging the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for both paid and unpaid leave, ensuring you can focus on your treatment without financial stress.
  • Engage Your Support Network: Share your decision to commence an IOP or PHP with your support system. Open communication can foster understanding and support from friends and family, enhancing your journey to recovery.
  • Facilitate Information Exchange: If you're currently working with a healthcare provider, consider authorizing a Release of Information. This step allows seamless communication between your provider and the chosen IOP or PHP, ensuring continuity and coherence in your care.

Discover The Best PHP and IOP Programs Near You! 

At Clarity Clinic, we believe in providing personalized and comprehensive psychiatric and mental health care that truly makes a difference. Our dedicated team of professionals is committed to offering the highest quality PHP and IOP in Chicago, IL, designed to meet your unique needs. Here’s why Clarity Clinic stands out as the premier choice for your mental health journey:

  • Tailored Treatment Plans: We understand that each individual’s journey is unique. Our expert team crafts personalized treatment plans that address your specific challenges and goals, ensuring you receive the most effective care possible.
  • Experienced Professionals: Our clinic is home to some of the most skilled and compassionate mental health therapists near you. With a wealth of experience in a range of mental health disciplines, our team is equipped to support you through every step of your journey.
  • Supportive Community: At Clarity Clinic, you’re not just a patient; you’re part of a community. Our PHP and IOP programs offer opportunities to connect with others who understand what you’re going through, creating a network of support and encouragement.
  • Flexible Scheduling: We know that your life doesn’t pause for treatment. That’s why we offer flexible scheduling options to fit your busy lifestyle, ensuring that you can receive the care you need without sacrificing your daily responsibilities.
  • Innovative Therapies: Our commitment to incorporating the latest evidence-based therapies means you’ll have access to the most advanced treatment options available, all aimed at promoting lasting wellness and recovery.

Don’t let the search for quality mental health care leave you feeling overwhelmed. Choose Clarity Clinic, where your well-being is our top priority. Take the first step towards a clearer, healthier future by reaching out to us today.

With mental health clinic locations throughout Chicago, Loop, River North, Lakeview-Belmont, Lakeview-Broadway, Evanston, Arlington Heights, Mokena. Book a PHP and IOP consultation today! Together, we can navigate the path to recovery with confidence and support every step of the way.

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Related Readings:

IOP & PHP: Commonly Asked Questions


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