Is an Intensive Outpatient Program right for you?

4 min read

Struggling with anxiety, borderline personality disorder, substance abuse, depression, or trauma might be impeding your ability to lead a healthy life. You might be wondering if it’s possible for you to live a healthy, productive life as a student. The Shrink Space Intensive Outpatient Provider, MindWork Group, shares more on what is an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) and if it may be a helpful treatment option for you.

Intensive Outpatient Program_The Shrink Space

Perhaps you see a therapist in between classes, but don’t feel your coping skills are improving as quickly as you’d like. Maybe you’ve tried other methods to solve your issues on your own, but haven’t had success in overcoming them. Or you may have even toyed with the idea of checking in to an inpatient facility, but that measure seems a bit too drastic. 

If you’re seeking a treatment option that offers more care than your regular therapy sessions but does not require the time and financial commitment of an inpatient or residential program, you might want to consider an intensive outpatient program

An intensive outpatient program is exactly what it sounds like: instead of living in a facility, you’ll be able to live in the community – whether that’s on campus, a hotel or short-term housing, or with your family or significant other. As for the time it requires, you will see your medical care team for about three hours a day, likely five days a week, for a period of at least two weeks. After this period, your providers will be able to develop a care plan, so you’ll be able to continue your progress. 

Six types of people an IOP might be a smart next step

1) You’ve already been to an inpatient treatment center, but need a bit more support to prevent relapse.

If you’ve been admitted to a psychiatric hospital or been a patient at a residential treatment facility, your doctors have likely pressed upon you that your mental health treatment should not stop once you leave. In order to maintain healthier ways of thinking, you’ll need continued support, and a lot of it. 

An intensive outpatient program bridges that gap between your round-the-click care + outpatient therapy sessions. A good IOP will help you foster the skills you’ll need for coping with everyday stressors more independently. Your mental health care team will help you learn the skills necessary to live a healthy life and will work with you to create a daily routine you can follow for the weeks and months following your inpatient stay.

2) Or, conversely, you know you need substantial help, but you haven’t quite hit rock bottom yet. 

If regular sessions with your therapist are not helping you as quickly or as significantly as you need, you might consider an IOP. 

As a young adult, you might be facing a lot of societal pressure – from peers participating in alcohol and substance abuse to the glamourization of unrealistic body image expectations that are rampant on social media – not to mention the stress of the Covid-19 pandemic! 

You may be struggling with some of these issues. A good IOP will help you identify your life goals and set you on a concrete path towards achieving them. The goal is to remedy unhealthy habits and ways of thinking before you need more lengthy and serious interventions. 

3) You’re a busy student, and it’s not feasible for you to take the time off to participate in a residential program.

You’ve got a full workload of classes, and although you are not functioning well, you feel that withdrawing from school to be admitted to a hospital or a residential treatment program isn’t an option. 

An IOP gives you the flexibility to maintain your responsibilities at school and home while navigating through getting healthier. Depending on the program, you may have both daytime and nighttime treatment sessions available. The goal is to get your life back on track before you have no other choice but to leave school to seek treatment. 

4) You would rather live at home rather than in a hospital or residential treatment center.

There’s nothing like sleeping in your own bed. If you feel that your environment at home is safe and you feel supported and encouraged by the members of your family and community, you might consider an IOP, which does not require you to live onsite. 

5) You would like a comprehensive evaluation and treatment recommendation as a second opinion or consultation to help your current treaters.

A second opinion can help you feel more certain about the right diagnosis and treatment for you. Having a comprehensive evaluation will give you and your loved ones peace of mind in moving forward with your treatment plan. Being observed by multiple treatment providers in group and individual sessions that talk to each other can be a powerful intervention and uncover things that are missed in outpatient care with lone providers or ones who don’t work closely with one another.

6) You prefer to have intensive outpatient treatment that includes several hours of 1:1 therapy a week in addition to group therapy with experienced leaders and vetted peers.

One of the benefits of an IOP is that your treatment plan will most likely include individual as well as group therapy. 

Finding peer support is essential to building a strong recovery support system. You will have the ability to gain mutual support from peers without feelings of judgment or criticism that you might feel in other situations.  Group therapy encourages a sense of belonging, and you’ll feel less alone in your recovery.

Seeking treatment can be a daunting decision – especially as a young adult. If you’re struggling with mental health issues that regular therapy isn’t remedying, an intensive outpatient program may be a smart choice for you.

MindWork Group offers tailored, outpatient treatment plans to tackle problems relating to yourself, your relationship, your family, or group. We go beyond reductionist explanations for behavior and get to know you in the context of your personal history and current environment. In our world-class facility in Baltimore, our multidisciplinary team of staff and partners address the needs of you as a whole person. Schedule an intake appointment with MindWork Group.

The Shrink Space has over 10,000 mental health therapists, psychiatrists, group practices and IOPs across the US, UK, Canada who specialize in working with young adults. You can search by specialities, location, provider identities, and availability and much more!

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