3 Things to Know About Intensive Outpatient Programs


When it comes to coping with a variety of behavioral health concerns, from depression to substance abuse, knowing what type of treatment you might need can be confusing.

Intensive outpatient programs, sometimes called IOPS, are one type of “level of care.” “Level of care” is a medical term that describes different types of treatment such as hospital care, visits with a therapist or support group meetings. The type of treatment you need depends on what is going on with you, how it affects your life and what is available in your area.

But not all outpatient programs are the same, and it can be challenging to find the one that will best suit your needs and goals. Here are some things you should know about IOPs.

1. How Will I Get There?

Transportation is not typically provided to get to and from an IOP; you will need to be able to transport yourself, get a ride, access medical transportation through your insurance or use public transportation to attend an IOP.

2. What Will My Session at an IOP Be Like?

The first step to getting started in most IOP programs is to call the program to schedule an intake appointment. Typical goals of IOP sessions include: meeting with the therapist to establish treatment goals and expectations; participating in daily discussions; practicing skills learned in group therapy at home; and returning to group therapy to discuss how things are going at home.  

One of the primary focuses of intensive outpatient care is providing a variety of support.

3. How Long Does an IOP Last?

IOPs typically meet three to five days a week for three to four hours a day over the course of five to eight weeks. Most IOPs hold meetings during the day or evening. Prior to completing IOP, you will talk to your therapist about discharge and have a plan to continue to meet your treatment needs.