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Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP) | What to Expect

top down view of a group of adults in a circle while a therapist leads discussion


An Intensive Outpatient Program is designed to assist the patient with a mental health, substance abuse, or dual diagnosis.  A dual diagnosis is an individual suffering from both a mental health diagnosis and a substance abuse diagnosis.  There are multiple mental health disorders that may be represented in the programs group, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar, major depressive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder to name a few.  The list for substances being abused can be just as long, including alcohol, prescription medications, narcotics, marijuana, cocaine, heroin and chemically manufactured street drugs.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment

This program is designed to provide the tools needed to implement your own individualized recovery program, while having the daily support and feedback of the group and the group facilitator.  Intensive Outpatient Treatment Programs typically meet daily during the workweek for three to four hours a day, and participants can come as often as their health insurance will cover.  Some insurance companies will pay for daily therapy, others three times per week, while others may just be one time per week.  This group is designed to meet the needs of its participants, so meeting times may vary from program to program.  Some tools provided in the daily meetings may include telling your own personal story of how you became a group member, learning mindfulness techniques to help focus on your own care, identifying triggers in your life that lead you to using or exacerbate your mental illness, and establishing healthy activities and relationships for your future.


Discharge decisions are made between the group facilitator, the patient, the patient’s psychiatrist or mental health counselor, and the patient’s insurance company.  All parties need to agree that the patient has gained the tools needed to succeed on their own or has reached a point that they are no longer progressing in the program.  In some cases, termination of benefits can solely be made by the insurance company involved.  This is sometimes done before the patient has gained the knowledge and skills that they need to succeed alone.  It is important for every patient that has completed or been dismissed from an Intensive Outpatient Program to have close follow-up with their psychiatrist and mental health counselor.  For additional information feel free to contact us through our website.