Intensive Outpatient Program FAQ’s
What is an Intensive Outpatient Program?
Intensive outpatient programs provide a multi-disciplinary treatment team consisting of a psychiatrist, counselor and / or social worker who provide a comprehensive approach to help you cope with your problems. These services are provided for less than 3 hours per day, up to five days per week, and are similar to services provided in the hospital. It involves group therapy where you will learn to identify and cope with relationship problems, enhance your problem solving skills and learn new ways to adapt to your problems. Individual counseling and family or marital therapy, along with psychiatric medication management may also occur.
How can an IOP help me?
Intensive outpatient programs can be helpful in many ways. IOP’s can provide a safe and secure environment to prevent further deterioration and develop a plan to cope with crisis situations, without going to the hospital. Of course, this assumes that you can be safely treated on an outpatient basis. IOP’s can also serve as a step down service when you are coming out of the hospital or residential treatment. IOP’s provide some structure with intensive treatment for a longer period of time than hospitalization. This allows one to practice the coping skills they are learning on a daily basis. Longer treatment, with live practice, has been shown to be more effective in preventing relapse.
Intensive outpatient programs provide intense treatment services, for a longer period of time, at significantly less cost than hospitalization. Therefore, not only will you receive a longer dose of treatment, and be exposed to more different types of treatment to help you cope with your problems, but you will do so at a significantly lower cost than a hospital stay. In fact, our entire course of treatment typically costs less than an emergency room visit or your first night at the hospital.
How are your programs different?
We use evidence based treatment manuals to guide your treatment. Additionally, we have proven that our treatment works in peer reviewed scientific publications. Our research shows that our patients who complete treatment show significant improvements in their symptoms, daily functioning and are very satisfied with their treatment. These findings are true for both our depressed and anxious patients, as well as our dual diagnosis patients.
What about confidentiality?
All group members sign a confidentiality agreement that is enforceable by law. Your mental health privacy is protected by law and we take every precaution to ensure that your confidentiality and privacy rights are upheld. We can only inform others of your treatment with your express written permission. The only time we are able to disclose such information without your consent is if you pose an imminent danger to yourself or someone else.
What about my job?
Once you agree to start treatment, you may elect to apply for medical leave and we will complete any necessary paperwork you provide to us. Assuming you have short-term disability, we will complete the paperwork you bring us so that you can receive your check in a timely manner. We will also help you with any FMLA related paperwork. The truth is, if you are doing a poor job because of your mental health, you owe it to yourself to receive treatment and get back to your old self. What would you tell your best friend, spouse or child to do?
I can’t afford to be off of work for more than a week or two; why isn’t that enough? Realistically, it took you far longer than two weeks to get to this point. You cannot expect that you are going to make significant life changes in two weeks. You are making an investment in yourself. Our research shows that it takes about six weeks in our programs to achieve the best results. During this time, you must allow yourself to become immersed in treatment and practice what you are learning every day if you want to change your life. There will be setbacks and we want to be there to help you learn how to cope with those as well.
How can I afford this?
We accept all major health insurance plans and are contracted with them to make this service available to you at the price they have negotiated on your behalf. Additionally, should you desire to apply for short term disability, we will continue to help you with your claim as long as your treatment is medically necessary, you are following treatment recommendations and you are benefitting from treatment. We do not want your finances to interfere with you getting the help you need. Our business office will review your insurance benefits, deductibles, co-pays or co-insurance with you. If finances are a problem, they will work with you to develop a payment plan that you can live with.
Why can’t I just see a psychiatrist and take medications?
Anti-depressant medications usually take about six weeks to work and if effective, will help with some of your symptoms. Research has shown that only about 50% of patients will have a positive response to their first anti-depressant medication and the remaining individuals will either require additional medication or talk therapy to achieve a response. Cognitive therapy, both alone and in combination with citalopram, has also been shown to be as effective as the various second-step anti-depressant medication strategies (add another medication, switch to another class of medications or continue treatment as usual) studied in STAR*D trials. Additionally, it has been shown that medication plus talk therapy is generally more effective than either alone. This is because no amount of medication can teach you how to cope with your problems, learn new strategies to think about your problems, or change the way you relate to others.
Why do I need to attend groups?
Yes, most people have some apprehensions about discussing their problems in front of other people. This fear and apprehension is understandable. Most of us were taught not to express our feelings in public. So if we can’t express how we feel, what do we do? You can start by listening to others. Soon, you will begin to recognize that others are experiencing problems similar to yours. Group participation is something that happens with time, as you feel more connected to other group members. Groups are very powerful and help us recognize that as humans we all share many of the same experiences and there are many ways to cope with them. Groups help us recognize that we are not alone and that there is hope for recovery.
How do I know if an intensive outpatient program is right for me?
If you are unsafe, pose an imminent risk of danger to yourself or someone else, or are experiencing psychotic symptoms, IOP is not the right level of care for you. When someone is in immediate danger of hurting themselves or others, or is experiencing psychotic symptoms, they typically require 24 hour observation in a psychiatric hospital. Similarly, if you are experiencing mild to moderate symptoms, and are able to function without difficulties, IOP is probably not the right level of care for you either. In this case, traditional individual therapy and psychiatric medications should be tried first. However, if you are experiencing moderate to severe symptoms and are having difficulties functioning, IOP could be the right level of care for you.