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Intensive Outpatient Program

IOP - Intensive Outpatient Services

IOP stands for “intensive outpatient program.” IOP programs treat substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders. IOP offers group therapy and life skills classes for those with substance abuse issues.

  • IOP is intensive due to the schedule of treatment. You will meet with clinicians and support groups for at least 10 hours per week.

  • “Outpatient” means that at IOP, clients go home each night. This is unlike inpatient treatment, where you would live in the treatment center.
  • IOPs are structured programs that follow a schedule and routine. The program helps you build skills. IOP is like after-school for mental health and substance abuse disorder

Intensive Outpatient Services

Intensive outpatient programs, or IOPs, are growing in popularity as a treatment alternative to hospitalization or other inpatient services for people who do not need detoxification. IOPs are typically offered for patients with substance abuse disorders who have either completed a detoxification period or who don’t require one, or to individuals with certain types of eating disorders or depression, provided they are not in danger of self-harm. The advantages for the patient include the ability to maintain a presence at school or work, lower costs, and the ability to live at home. 

On the provider side, an IOP is a series of multiples: Multiple treatment services (family, individual, and group therapy) and treatment modalities (cognitive behavioral therapy and rational emotive behavioral therapy, for example), given on multiple days per week (usually a minimum of three), and provided by a multidisciplinary team of mental health specialists, which may include psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers, and counselors. Most programs are required to provide at least three hours of psychiatric and therapeutic services per day, with at least two group therapy sessions and individual services to address mental health needs. 

An IOP program treats mental health, addiction, and other issues. You can attend an IOP while working and going to school.

During an IOP, clients will do the following:

  • Group therapy sessions

  • Individual counseling

  • Life skills classes

  • Support groups

IOP programs also offer courses to address the issues that cause addiction. These courses might include topics like:

  • Trauma education

  • Vocational skills

  • Emotional regulation

  • Relapse prevention

  • Family and community

  • Self-discovery

Knowing what type of treatment will work best for each person depends on their needs. An IOP might be best for those needing a step-down from inpatient care. They can resume their daily life after inpatient treatment and still get a high level of care.