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Partial hospitalization treatment, also known as a partial hospitalization program or PHP, is the most intensive level of care within the outpatient setting and is used to treat those with a mental illness or substance use disorder (SUD). Outpatient programs occur in non-residential settings meaning that individuals can attend these programs while residing at home.
When someone participates in a partial hospitalization program, the person will reside at home, but they will attend partial hospitalization treatment several hours per day, several days per week. Some partial hospitalization programs operate 6-8 hours per day, 5-6 days per week. These hours of operation can vary depending on each state’s requirements and regulations. The length of the partial hospitalization programs from admission to program completion may also vary. On average, the partial hospitalization program will run for 3-4 weeks, depending on the individual’s needs.
Additional outpatient levels of care include the intensive outpatient program (IOP) and outpatient programs (OP). The intensive outpatient program typically consists of group and individual counseling sessions, averaging about 3-5 days per week. The basic outpatient program is fewer hours than an intensive outpatient program but may also consist of group and individual counseling sessions.
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Many factors determine an individual’s appropriateness for partial hospitalization treatment or any level of care. Clinical or medical staff will complete a client assessment to determine the appropriate level of care. To make this assessment, the medical or clinical staff will gather information on an individual’s treatment history, how often they used drugs or alcohol, the severity of their addiction, and history of mental health or medical diagnoses. Partial hospitalization programs may be appropriate for the following individuals:
While in a partial hospitalization program, and depending on the treatment facility, a client will typically attend psychoeducational group sessions, individual counseling sessions, family or couples counseling sessions, and other alternative forms of therapy. Alternative forms of therapy can include yoga, art therapy, neurofeedback therapy, or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy.
Partial hospitalization programs typically provide breakfast and lunch to their patients. Medical staff is also available for patients at the partial hospitalization level of care, and the staff usually offers psychopharmacological assessments and check-ins. Partial hospitalization is very similar to inpatient treatment because it also provides a wide range of services; however, patients do not have to stay overnight in partial hospitalization programs.
Partial hospitalization is cost-effective in comparison to inpatient levels of care as the individual does not need to stay in a facility 24/7, which helps to cut costs. Insurance typically covers this level of care and will usually cover partial hospitalization treatment for more days than it would inpatient or medical detox treatment. For example, an insurance company may authorize coverage for 20 inpatient days but may allow coverage for 30 partial hospitalization days. Insurance companies typically cover more days at lower levels of care because the higher levels tend to be more costly.
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To provide more insight into how the continuum of care works in substance abuse, once someone completes medical detox or inpatient level of care, they can usually be “stepped down” or transferred to the partial hospitalization level of care to continue treatment. Furthermore, once someone completes the partial hospitalization level of care, they may move to the intensive outpatient level of care for continued treatment. An individual may also step back up to inpatient level of care if, for instance, they have relapsed while in partial hospitalization treatment and cannot maintain sobriety at this level of care.
If needed, people entering a partial hospitalization program should have already gone through medical detox; however, some partial hospitalization programs may offer medical detox if the facility offers inpatient levels of care. While partial hospitalization treatment is not a substitution for inpatient care, it may be used as a transition between inpatient and outpatient levels of care.
The journey to recovery is not linear, but there are levels of care available to give individuals the most support during this process. Partial hospitalization programs are not ideal for every situation, but it can provide individuals with the necessary tools and supervision for healing and sobriety. For more information on partial hospitalization treatment options, contact a treatment provider today.
Amber Biello-Taylor, CAP, LCSW
Amber Biello-Taylor is a Certified Addiction Professional (CAP) with over 10 years of professional addiction treatment experience.
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