Beginning therapy can be an intimidating process. In addition to beginning the process of finding a Therapist, it may be helpful to get a better idea of how much support you are looking for, or may need. With so much information about types of programs and treatment, it can be difficult knowing where to start or what kind of support you are looking for. Below you will find brief descriptions and explanations of the five main levels of care to get a better understanding of what may be best for you.
Levels of Care:
Outpatient This is the lowest level of care, and what most people think of when they hear the word “Therapy.” This would typically involve going to an office or meeting for a virtual session at a frequency determined the best fit by your Therapist. While outpatient therapy is most often thought of for meeting with clients individually, it can also be utilized to meet with families, couples, or group therapy. Each Therapist uses a specialized lens to help support someone with their needs, and meet the client where they are. Oftentimes Clients are recommended to begin Therapy by other providers such as a Psychiatrist, Primary Care Doctor, School Counselor, or Dietitian. With a client’s consent, a Therapist can connect with other providers to better support that client.
Intensive Outpatient Therapy (IOP) Sometimes an outpatient Therapist may see clients up to a few times each week, but more support may be needed. When that is not enough support for a Client, an IOP program may be best. IOP programs are typically run in the evenings about three times per week, for a few hours each night. In addition to individual therapy, IOP may include group and/or family therapy. As you move to higher levels of care, more therapeutic lenses and techniques may be applied.
Partialized Hospitalization Programming (PHP). As is in their name, PHP programs are typically run in hospital settings about five days a week, during the day. While this may be a more helpful level of care, it can be difficult to accommodate school or work schedules. Some programs offer support with schooling or occupations to make it more manageable for clients. Although these options exist to accommodate everyone’s needs as best they can, sometimes seeking more support may mean needing to take time away from work or school so that concerns do not prolong and persist. In PHP programs, additional providers are included within the program, as opposed to seeking multiple outpatient services from various providers. PHP programs offer a chance to increase independence outside of programming for those stepping down from a higher level of care.
Residential. Rather than going to an office building or hospital, residential programs, often given the name “Rehab”, are a form of inpatient programming, in that you would be temporarily residing in a treatment facility to receive support for a multitude of conditions. These facilities provide 24/7 support from trained staff as well as include many additional Clinical providers similar to PHP programs. Residential programs often provide a space to feel as though you are at home while having more support. Residential programs typically offer a longer stay than Inpatient programs. Some residential facilities may also offer support in helping you continue your education or find a job.
Inpatient. Inpatient care involves clients staying full-time at a hospital. While many residential programs are equipped to support medication management and some medical support, if more medical attention is needed, Clients may go to an inpatient unit or program in a hospital for more support. An inpatient facility or program may be appropriate for someone when it becomes more of a medical necessity or for someone’s safety.
If you are unsure as to what may be best for you, it may help to talk with multiple healthcare providers, so they can recommend appropriate next steps. There is certainly not one way of receiving support or beginning this process, so it’s helpful to talk with your providers and understand what may be most helpful for you. Many higher levels of care offer step-down programs in which you gradually increase your level of independence and decrease levels of support. Some organizations offer multiple levels of care but do not necessarily move you from one level of care to the next within their program. It is important to clarify what that trajectory looks like within each program, to better understand your recovery journey.