January 31, 2024|Mental Health|
A male psychiatrist sits next to his patients and listens attentively.

You’ve made the decision that you or a loved one needs help, but that can have you scrambling for information. Do they need to be admitted to a mental health treatment facility to take advantage of inpatient services? Or would an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) or Partial-hospitalization Program (PHP) be the right fit? What’s the difference and how do you know what’s right for your situation?

Fortunately, you don’t need to make that decision on your own. An assessment by a trained treatment professional will provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision about treating you or your loved one’s mental illness. Still, it’s important for you to understand the differences in how various programs work and the components that comprise them.

Inpatient Programs

Inpatient programs run around the clock, 24 hours a day, with participants living on-site and eating meals at the treatment facility. They provide structure, teach coping mechanisms, and prepare patients to transition back into their everyday lives with a renewed, healthier mindset.

Inpatient programs are designed for people with severe mental health problems. For example, they may fit the needs of someone who is either a danger to themselves or the people around them.

Inpatient programs provide different treatment options, including group therapy, individual therapy, medication management and more. Family members are also encouraged to be a part of the recovery process when possible.

Outpatient Programs

In contrast, outpatient programs traditionally offer morning, afternoon or evening options. Outpatient services do not require an overnight hospital stay. Rather, individuals who attend outpatient treatment programs usually set aside 3-4 hours per day for treatment.

Outpatient programs provide different levels of structure and care depending on what program you choose. Partial-hospitalization programs, or PHPs, are designed for those with moderate mental health symptoms. Intensive outpatient programs, or IOPs, are designed for those with mild symptoms.

Like inpatient programs, outpatient programs also provide different types of treatment. These include group therapy, individual therapy, medication management and more.

When it comes to making the right treatment choice, there is no one right answer that applies to every single situation. Both inpatient and outpatient treatment serve a specific purpose and offer quality, comprehensive programs. It’s all about finding the right fit for your particular set of circumstances.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient

Of course, there are many differences between inpatient and outpatient care.

Generally speaking, inpatient treatment remains the most successful treatment method and is preferred in most cases. That’s not a fit for everyone, though. In some cases, inpatient treatment is simply not feasible. It may be that professional or family obligations make it impossible to leave daily life behind to seek treatment. In these instances, outpatient treatment can provide a flexible, feasible option near home.

Inpatient and outpatient programs treat similar mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder (and other mood disorders), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse and more.

While inpatient treatment offers more programming per day and the additional benefits of living with professionals on-site, high-quality inpatient and outpatient programs include similar features:

  • A customized care plan focused on the unique needs of each individual
  • Physician-directed medication management
  • Primary therapy with a licensed mental health professional
  • Group sessions with peer interaction
  • Educational programs and lectures including Life Skills Training, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Stress Management and Relapse Prevention
  • Holistic programming which could include art therapy, equine therapy, yoga, adventure programs and more
  • Post-treatment recovery support for long-term success

Choosing Inpatient AND Outpatient

It’s not uncommon for someone to use inpatient and outpatient treatment in tandem, beginning with a inpatient program and then stepping down to outpatient treatment as a way to ease back into everyday life. This option provides the individual with the security and structure of treatment as they deal with their mental health conditions.

Individuals may also seek treatment at various points in their recovery journey. Some use outpatient treatment as a sort of “tune-up” as issues arise, addressing them before the problem becomes unmanageable. Or they may return to inpatient treatment as needed.

Get Help Now

Recovery is a life-long process, and the skills learned in treatment – whether in an inpatient or outpatient program – can make all the difference in your long-term success. To find the right fit for you or a loved one, call Hartgrove now. There are professionals available 24 hours a day, seven days a week who can provide information on treatment programs, schedule a free assessment, help with insurance and answer questions about the treatment process. They’ll take the time to gather information about your unique situation and match you or your loved one to the right program.

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