Are you currently dealing with a mental health disorder, an addiction, or a substance abuse issue? Maybe you’re weighing your options, one being a treatment program, such as an intensive outpatient program (IOP). But what is an intensive outpatient program like and how will it benefit you?
Let’s find out.
Considering an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
Suppose you have panic attacks that interfere with how you function at work, home, school, or socially. When you do not have a panic attack, you worry about when the next one will happen. Or maybe you have financial problems due to gambling behaviors, a substance use disorder, or a combination of depression and alcohol misuse.
Millions of people are coping with mental health and substance use disorders daily. You are not alone, and by entering a treatment program, you can receive daily support from peers and professionals. If you are thinking about where to go to get help, consider an intensive outpatient program (IOP).
What is an Intensive Outpatient Program Like?
IOP is a structured program that offers at least fifteen hours of individual and group therapies each week. IOPs offer flexibility and convenience, providing program activities in the evening and on some weekends. This allows you to continue working, going to school, and caring for your family.
While participating in IOP, you will learn skills to overcome symptoms and triggers to avoid a relapse of mental health or substance use disorders.
What Happens in Individual and Group Therapy?
Individual and group therapies are led by licensed treatment professionals trained in behavioral therapies and education to help you understand why you have mental health, substance use, or dual diagnosis disorder.
While many factors contribute to mental health and substance use disorders, they occur partly due to thinking patterns leading to unhealthy or irrational behaviors.
Effective behavioral therapies include the following:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): a talk therapy with many sub-therapies to teach you how to stop negative thought patterns and substitute them with healthy thoughts that lead to healthy behaviors.
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT): a form of CBT combined with mindfulness so you can learn to be present and aware of what is happening around you. You can better assess and meet your physical and mental needs.
- Trauma-Informed Yoga (TIY): Trauma affects the mind, body, and spirit. Trauma-Informed Yoga (TIY) helps heal these areas by improving concentration, attention, and awareness. It also reduces anxiety, stress, anger, and other negative emotions. You learn to regulate emotions rather than allowing them to control you.
- Neurofeedback: If you have a mental health or substance use disorder, your brainwave activity may be abnormal in some regions. Neurofeedback is the process of collecting brainwave information and analyzing it with your therapist or psychiatrist. Then, use sound and visual aids to retrain your brain to respond differently to trauma-related triggers.
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing: a trauma therapy performed by trained and certified EMDR therapists. With eye movements, you can access the trauma quickly, change how you perceive the trauma, and find a resolution to move forward.
- Brene Brown’s Shame Resiliency: Shame resilience theory helps you recognize shame, its triggers, and how it affects your life. You also learn critical awareness, change how you interact in relationships, reach out to others struggling to let them know they are not alone, and learn to express yourself.
- Family Therapy: Just as your family played a role in your mental health or substance use disorder, they play an essential role in your recovery. In family therapy, your therapist will work with them individually and as a whole unit. Families are made up of individual parts. It is easier to maintain recovery when each of the parts has what they need to be successful in their own lives, as well as in the family.
What Skills Are Taught in IOP?
Through behavioral and holistic therapies, peer support 12 Step groups, and recovery activities, you will learn different skills at each stage. For example, when you first enter IOP, you will begin learning early recovery skills. Examples include controlling cravings, recognizing internal triggers, and regulating emotions.
As you progress, relapse prevention skills will become a priority. They are essential in maintaining long-term recovery. Communication, self-care, problem-solving, relaxation and stress management, conflict resolution, relationship building, and a support system.
Before you complete treatment, you will participate in aftercare planning. Your aftercare plan involves proactive activities to help you avoid potential obstacles. Most aftercare plans include the following:
- Job search and interview training
- Continued mental health treatment
- Local recovery support groups
- Medication management
- Transitional housing
- Pending legal issues
- Educational needs
What Are the Benefits of IOP?
One of the most significant benefits is staying home while getting structured care throughout the week. There is an emphasis on peer support, giving and receiving feedback, and recognizing you are not alone in recovery. You can receive medication management if needed.
While in IOP, you can start building your support system immediately with the others in your groups and at the local 12 Step groups in your community. Your family receives treatment and access to family support groups.
Holistic therapies such as yoga and meditation are practiced daily. For a few hours each day, you get to focus only on yourself for once. Making your mental and physical health a priority is a must for long-term recovery.
Getting Started with IOP
To enroll in an IOP, you must first complete an initial assessment. The assessment collects information about your overall health and lifestyle and uses this information to create a comprehensive treatment plan. The more information you share, your treatment plan will be more personalized.
The best candidates for an IOP are those with a healthy support system. Preferably, you are living with someone who can provide support throughout your recovery. If not, one of your first goals will be to connect with people who can offer help.
You will have peer support while attending IOP group therapies and 12 Step facilitation groups. It’s also vital to seek friends and family who are healthy and willing to be there for you when you need help.