Menu Close

What Is a PHP?

group of men and women seated in a circle as part of a therapy session exploring what is a PHP

A partial hospitalization program, or PHP, is a day treatment level of outpatient care. PHP treatment typically takes place five days a week for four hours a day and includes group therapy, medication management, and some level of family work. It is considered an intensive level of treatment due to the requirement of 20 hours per week of therapy along with medication management. While a PHP is a form of intensive outpatient therapy, it is not actually a hospital stay.

At Connections Wellness Group, our partial hospitalization program in Texas offers mental health services to residents of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. Call 940.360.4245 to learn more or to get started with treatment today.

What Is a PHP?

As mentioned, a partial hospitalization program is an intensive level of outpatient therapy. The word ‘hospitalization’ is used because the patient is under the care of a psychiatrist while in the program. PHP therapy can include medication management as well as various evidence-based counseling approaches. Patients at this level of care meet with a provider (psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner) twice weekly for medication management.

While intensive, a PHP is sometimes referred to as a “mid-level” of care as it is more intensive than traditional individual therapy, which is typically a once-weekly session for 50 minutes but less intensive than an inpatient hospitalization or a residential treatment center.

Patients can attend therapy daily and can return home each day to spend the evening with their families. PHP programs are available for children, adolescents, and adults. PHPs are most often used to treat the following:

  • Mental health conditions
  • Eating disorders
  • Substance use disorders
  • Dual diagnosis (struggles with mental health and substance use disorders simultaneously)

After completing a PHP, many patients step down to a less intensive level of outpatient treatment.

How Do I Know if I Need a PHP Level of Care?

While criteria for a partial hospitalization program can vary from person to person, some common symptoms could indicate the need for a higher level of care. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Homicidal thoughts
  • Self-harm
  • Persistent and severe depression that has led to the inability to function in everyday life
  • Frequent panic attacks
  • Struggles with substance abuse
  • Struggles with eating disorders

It is important to note that, at times, these symptoms may be severe enough to warrant an inpatient level of care or may respond to individual therapy and psychiatry.

A PHP is often recommended following an inpatient hospitalization as a ‘step-down’ level of care, just as an IOP (intensive outpatient program) is often recommended as a ‘step-down’ level of care after successfully completing a PHP. If a patient has been seeing an individual therapist and meeting with a provider to manage medications without significant progress or is experiencing increased symptoms, they may need to seek a higher level of care, such as a PHP.

If you feel you may need a higher level of care, please reach out to a facility to complete an intake assessment. These assessments are conducted by licensed professionals and recommend the most appropriate level of care.

What Should I Expect from a PHP Level of Care?

While each program may have its own unique structure, daily programming typically includes two hours of process groups and two hours of skills/psychoeducation groups. The length of time a patient is in a partial hospitalization program can vary from 10-30 days, depending on the following:

  • What problems the patient is struggling with
  • The progress they are making toward their treatment goals
  • Changes in medications
  • Insurance

The intake process can vary from program to program but typically includes the following:

  1. An intake assessment
  2. Completing admission paperwork
  3. Communication with the billing department
  4. Meeting with the nursing staff
  5. Biopsychosocial assessment

Patients should be seen by a provider (psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner) within 24 hours of admission into the program and be able to join a group on their first day.

Although some programs include individual therapy while enrolled, most consist primarily of group therapy. Therapy groups are led by licensed professionals who will work with patients on goal-setting, processing daily challenges, and teaching coping skills to help decrease/manage symptoms. Medication changes occur most often at the PHP level, with the patient seeing the provider twice weekly so that they can be monitored for any side effects, and adjustments can be made accordingly.

Treatment team meetings happen weekly; they include therapy, nursing, and psychiatry staff to ensure all staff involved in patient care are aware of any progress and are working as a team to help each patient. It is often recommended that an IOP level of care be completed following the successful completion of a PHP, and facilities can often provide both levels of care.

Contact Connections Wellness Group Today

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues and could benefit from a partial hospitalization program, please get in touch with Connections Wellness Group today at 940.360.4245 or reach out online.

Our experienced team of providers is standing by to provide support and treatment for those who are suffering.