What is Mental Health Intensive Outpatient Treatment?

Posted on 12/22/2016 07:14:00 AM
What is Mental Health Intensive Outpatient Treatment?

When it comes to mental health, there are many avenues of treatment, each with their own level of severity. For clients experiencing a crisis, hospitalization is often necessary. On the other end of the spectrum, those who are encountering only mild symptoms may seek out a therapist for monthly sessions. However, many clients fall somewhere in the middle. For those in the mid-range, intensive outpatient therapy is a great option.

Intensive Outpatient 

An intensive outpatient program provides clients with comprehensive care while avoiding the need for hospitalization. Clients attend treatment during the day and go back to their own homes for the evening and night. This gives them the chance to practice their newly learned coping skills in real life situations without getting overwhelmed. Clients take each day one at a time, building up their confidence and coping skills bit by bit.

Group Therapy

Group therapy is a common element of intensive outpatient programs. Similar to many inpatient programs, a day at an outpatient program is structured around a number of groups that address the attendees’ mental health needs. These groups can be educational, practical or recreational. Clients learn about such subjects as medication side effects, reactions between illicit drugs and brain chemicals, genetic predispositions to mental conditions and much more in educational classes, which make use of videos and reading material to help clients learn.

Practical groups focus on subjects like coping mechanisms, interpersonal skills, proper sleeping routines and anything that applies to a person’s daily functioning. Recreational groups are a fantastic addition to group therapy, as they add a dose of fun to the day with activities like art therapy, music classes and nature walks.


Clients typically begin their day in the morning and finish in the afternoon, with most programs running Monday through Friday. It’s common for clients to meet with their individual therapist once per week, but apart from this exception, everyone is expected to attend treatment daily.

These schedules help get clients back into the rhythm of a regular school or work week, which they may have been deprived of previously due to their illness.

Dedication & Hard Work

Although intensive outpatient programs require dedication and hard work, they also provide an incredible amount of support. For individuals who need a moderate-to-high level of treatment, an intensive outpatient program can be exactly what they need to get back on the path to a healthy, happy life.

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