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How Can Intensive Outpatient Services Help You on Your Journey to Recovery?

Learn more about the many benefits of intensive outpatient services and how to find a facility near you.

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If you’re struggling with mental health disorders or addiction, seek help as soon as possible. If not treated, they can impair your well-being. Seeking help can involve a variety of treatment options and rehabilitation programs.1

This includes intensive outpatient services (IOP).
With the proper treatment, you can develop coping skills and build stronger relationships. IOP can help you manage symptoms in a way that allows you to live a fulfilling and meaningful life.
intensive outpatient services

What Are Intensive Outpatient Services?

An IOP is a treatment program that provides a structured environment for patients. But they are less restrictive than residential or inpatient treatment.

What Does an IOP Involve?

An IOP involves scheduled therapy sessions several hours a day. Patients in IOP receive various therapeutic interventions. This includes:
  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Medication management
  • Skills training

IOP vs. Other Programs

IOP is a step-down treatment for patients who have completed a residential program. IOP is best for those who do not need the level of care provided by inpatient treatment. But they still need more structured and intensive treatment.
IOP provides patients with the support they need to achieve and maintain recovery.

How Does IOP Differ From Other Treatment Options?

Intensive outpatient services differ from other treatment options in a few key ways.

Level of intensity

IOP is more intensive than outpatient therapy and more flexible than residential treatment. IOP involves scheduled therapy sessions several hours a day to a few days a week. This depends on the program’s design and the patient’s progress.


Intensive outpatient services provide more flexibility than residential or inpatient treatment. Patients can receive treatment while living at home and maintaining daily routines.

Treatment options

Intensive outpatient services provide several therapeutic interventions for patients. This allows for a more comprehensive approach to treatment. This treatment approach addresses a patient’s needs and preferences.


Intensive outpatient services are generally less expensive than residential or inpatient treatment. This is because patients do not need to pay for room and board.
IOP provides a middle ground between traditional outpatient therapy and residential treatment. They are for patients who need treatment without requiring them to uproot their lives.

Disorders Treated With Intensive Outpatient Services

Intensive outpatient services can treat various disorders. These will be detailed below.

Substance Abuse Disorders

Intensive outpatient services are often used to treat substance abuse disorders. They also provide treatment for addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Mood Disorders

Intensive outpatient services can be used to treat individuals struggling with mood disorders. This includes depression or bipolar disorder.

Anxiety Disorders

IOP is an excellent treatment option for those struggling with anxiety disorders. This includes generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorder.

Eating Disorders

Intensive outpatient treatment can be used to treat individuals struggling with eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Intensive outpatient services are suitable for people struggling with PTSD. This includes patients who have completed a residential program but still need ongoing support.

Intensive outpatient services are a versatile treatment option for mental health and substance abuse disorders. The treatment approach will vary depending on the individual’s needs and progress.

How do Intensive Outpatient Services Provide Support for Patients in Recovery?

Intensive outpatient services provide support for individuals in recovery in several ways.

Structured Therapy Sessions

Intensive outpatient treatment involves therapy sessions scheduled depending on the patient’s needs. These sessions provide individuals with ongoing support and guidance as they navigate recovery.

Structured therapy sessions can take many forms and can include evidence-based therapies. They include:
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy2
  • Dialectical behavior therapy3
  • Motivational interviewing4

Individual Therapy

Many IOP programs offer individual therapy sessions with a licensed therapist. This allows patients to work through specific issues related to their mental health or substance abuse.

What to Expect in Individual Therapy

In individual therapy, therapists work with patients to identify the root causes of their disorders. They can further explore unhealthy behaviors and thought patterns. This will help the therapist to develop personalized strategies to address these issues.

This allows patients to work through any underlying mental health concerns. This includes depression, anxiety, or trauma that may be contributing to their disorders.

Group Therapy

Intensive outpatient services often include group therapy sessions. Here, patients connect with others with similar experiences in recovery. They can share experiences and insights and receive peer support.

What to Expect in Group Therapy

A licensed therapist leads group therapy sessions in an IOP. They cover different topics, including coping skills, relapse prevention, and communication skills.

Group therapy provides a space where patients can share their experiences and receive feedback from others. This can help them gain new insights into their struggles and develop coping mechanisms.

Medication Management

This is for patients needing medication to manage their disorders. Intensive outpatient services often provide medication management services. This is to ensure medication is used effectively and safely.

Skills Training

Intensive outpatient services provide skills training to help individuals develop coping mechanisms and life skills. This allows patients to maintain recovery over the long term.

Family Support

Intensive outpatient services provide family therapy sessions or education programs. This helps patients and their loved ones understand and navigate the recovery process.
Intensive outpatient services offer a range of therapeutic interventions. As a result of this, patients can achieve and maintain sobriety and mental wellness.

The Benefits of Choosing Intensive Outpatient Services Over Inpatient Treatment

There are several benefits to choosing intensive outpatient services over inpatient treatment.

Access to Support Networks

Patients in an IOP can continue to access support networks while getting treatment. These include family, friends, and community resources.


An IOP allows patients to maintain more privacy than inpatient treatment. This is because they are not required to stay in a treatment facility.

Individualized Treatment

Intensive outpatient services often provide individualized treatment plans tailored to each patient’s needs. This allows for a more personalized approach to treatment that addresses the patient’s unique needs.

Gradual Transition

An IOP is for patients who have completed a residential or inpatient program but still need support with their recovery. This allows for a gradual transition back to daily life while receiving the support necessary for recovery.
IOP offers intensive treatment options while allowing patients to continue their day-day activities.

How Long Are Intensive Outpatient Services?

The length of intensive outpatient services varies depending on the patient’s treatment needs. The duration of IOP treatment can range from a few weeks to several months. Some programs may last 8-12 weeks, while others may extend to 6 months or longer.

Factors Influencing IOP Length

The length of IOP treatment will depend on several factors. This includes:
  • The patient’s progress
  • The severity of their condition
  • Treatment goals
Intensive outpatient services provide intensive support while patients work on their recovery. It is important to note that this is not a long-term treatment option.

After Completing an IOP

After completing an IOP, individuals may transition to less intensive treatment options.
The ultimate goal of IOP is to provide individuals with the support and tools necessary to maintain their recovery over the long term.

How Often are IOP Sessions Held?

The frequency of IOP sessions can range from 3-5 days per week, each lasting several hours. Intensive outpatient services may also offer evening or weekend sessions. This is to accommodate patients who work or attend school during the day.

Dependent on Treatment Needs

Each session lasts 2-4 hours and may involve combining different treatments. The frequency of sessions will depend on the individual’s progress and specific treatment needs. The goal is to provide the support and tools necessary to maintain recovery.

How Are Intensive Outpatient Services Tailored to the Unique Needs of Each Patient?

Intensive outpatient programs are tailored to meet the unique needs of each patient in several ways:

Individualized Treatment Plan

Intensive outpatient programs begin with a comprehensive assessment of the patient’s needs, strengths, and challenges.
The treatment team will develop an individualized treatment plan based on this assessment. This includes the specific goals, strategies, and interventions to support the patient’s recovery.

Personalized Therapy

An IOP often involves a combination of individual and group therapy. The specific type and frequency of the sessions will depend on the patient’s needs.

Specialized Treatment Tracks

Some intensive outpatient services offer specialized treatment tracks for individuals with specific needs or challenges.

For example, an IOP for individuals with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders may provide specialized therapy for managing both conditions.


Intensive outpatient services are flexible and adaptable to the individual’s changing needs. As the patient progresses in their recovery, the treatment is modified to reflect their evolving needs and goals.

Family Involvement

Intensive outpatient programs may involve family members or other loved ones in treatment. This can provide extra support and encouragement during the patient’s recovery.
By tailoring the treatment to meet each patient’s needs, intensive outpatient services can help improve the treatment’s effectiveness. This increases the chances of long-term success in recovery.

What to Expect from Your First Visit to an IOP

The first visit to an intensive outpatient program can be an essential step in recovery. Here’s what you can generally expect on your first visit.

Comprehensive Assessment

The first visit will begin with a comprehensive assessment of your strengths and challenges. This may involve a physical exam, mental health evaluation, and medical history.

The assessment will help the treatment team develop an individualized treatment plan.

Intake Paperwork

You will likely be asked to complete some intake paperwork on your first visit. This includes your medical history, substance use, and mental health information.

This information will help the treatment team develop an effective treatment plan.


You will receive an orientation to the program. This may include information about the program’s philosophy, goals, and expectations. You may also receive a tour of the facility and meet some staff members.

Treatment Plan

The treatment team will develop an individualized treatment plan based on the assessment. This will outline specific goals, strategies, and interventions to support your recovery.
This plan will be discussed with you, and you will have the opportunity to provide input.

Therapy Sessions

You may also attend therapy sessions on your first visit. This can be individual therapy, group therapy, or other therapeutic interventions. The specific type of therapy will depend on your treatment plan.

Support and Encouragement

At your first visit, you can expect support from the treatment team and your peers in the program. They will emphasize that recovery is a journey and everyone progresses at their own pace.

Meeting Your Team

The first visit to an IOP is an opportunity to begin the recovery journey with a professional team. The team will help you develop a treatment plan. They’ll also help you navigate the challenges and successes of recovery.

Are Intensive Outpatient Services the Right Choice for You or Your Loved One?

Determining whether IOP is the right choice for you or your loved one depends on various factors. This includes the severity of the substance use disorder. It also includes any co-occurring mental health disorders.
Here are some considerations to keep in mind:

Level of Care

IOP is for individuals who do not need 24-hour supervision or medical stabilization. Suppose a patient is experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms or needs intensive medical care. In that case, a higher level of care, such as inpatient treatment, may be more appropriate.

Co-Occurring Disorders

An IOP is effective for a patient struggling with a co-occurring mental health disorder.5

This includes depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. But, ensuring that the program offers specialized treatment for co-occurring disorders is vital.

Personal Circumstances

An IOP can be a good choice for individuals who need to maintain work or family commitments while receiving treatment. The flexibility of an IOP allows individuals to receive treatment during the weekend or evening while still fulfilling their other responsibilities.

Treatment Goals

If you or a loved one’s treatment goals include developing coping skills, improving relationships, and building a support network, An IOP can be a practical choice.
An IOP provides a supportive environment where individuals can work on developing these skills while still maintaining their daily routines.

Previous Treatment Experience

If you or your loved one has undergone treatment for substance use disorder and has relapsed, an IOP is effective for ongoing support and relapse prevention.

Consult a Medical Professional

The decision to choose intensive outpatient services should be made with a medical professional. They can assess the individual’s needs and make recommendations based on their circumstances.

Intensive Outpatient Services at Boardwalk Recovery

Substance abuse and mental health disorders can impair a patient’s quality of life. They can strain personal relationships and make maintaining healthy connections challenging.
Contacting a recovery center is vital for patients who want to enjoy a higher quality of life. Boardwalk Recovery can help you begin your recovery journey.

About Boardwalk Recovery

Boardwalk Recovery helps patients develop healthier coping skills and build stronger relationships. This helps reduce the risk of future physical and mental health problems.

Contact Boardwalk Recovery Today

Help is a phone call away. Reach out to Boardwalk Recovery today for more information about our treatment options.
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