What Is a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)?

Often, treatment facilities will recognize outpatient care as one particular type of program. However, there are many different types of outpatient programs within the realm of outpatient mental health care. Listing from most flexible to most structured, outpatient programs include general outpatient, intensive outpatient (IOP), and partial hospitalization programs (PHP). In this article, we are going to discuss what PHP is. We’ll explain what it entails and what to expect when entering this program. 

Continuum of Care

Individuals seeking recovery from substance use disorder (SUD) may wonder about available treatment options. Every individual has unique needs and goals when they enter treatment. Likewise, every treatment program offers unique benefits to meet clients’ needs. 

In response to this, the American Society of Medicine (ASAM) created four levels in a continuum of care for substance abuse treatment. This allows individuals to enter treatment at a level deemed most appropriate for their needs, with the option to step up or down as needed. The four levels of addiction treatment include:

  • Early intervention services (level 0.5) 
  • Outpatient services (level 1)
  • IOP and PHP (level 2)
  • Residential/Inpatient services (level 3)
  • Medically managed intensive inpatient services (level 4)

Identifying Personal Treatment Needs

Individuals struggling with moderate substance abuse and addiction may find refuge in general outpatient programs. General outpatient programs are the most flexible. They offer therapeutic sessions around a client’s schedule and associated responsibilities such as childcare, work, or school. 

On the other hand, individuals struggling with severe substance abuse and SUD may require more intensive treatment services to begin recovery. It is not uncommon for individuals to need to separate from their daily lives to achieve this. 

However, an inpatient treatment program is not always feasible, especially for those with outside responsibilities. Not everyone has the financial, familial, or career flexibility to leave for weeks. For this reason and more, IOP and PHP programs were created. 

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

According to Medicare.gov, “Partial hospitalization provides a structured program of outpatient psychiatric services as an alternative to inpatient psychiatric care.” It is considered the most intense and highest-structured form of outpatient care. PHP programs are recommended for individuals struggling with severe symptoms of SUD in addition to symptoms of a severe mental health disorder. 

A journal entry by The Psychiatric Hospital explains that PHPs are not meant to be used as a substitute for inpatient care. However, it may allow some clients to avoid hospitalization, as the availability of PHPs can “shorten the length of stay of full hospitalization or serve as a transition from inpatient to outpatient care.”

Clients admitted to a PHP do not require the around-the-clock monitoring provided in an inpatient setting. Additionally, clients must have access to an adequate social support system outside of treatment and not pose any active danger to themselves or others. If an individual poses an active threat to themselves or others or does not have adequate support, they should utilize an inpatient treatment program. 

What to Expect From a PHP

Like most treatment programs, PHPs require participation in both individual and group therapy interventions. Programs typically involve six hours of daily programming throughout the week, totaling around 20 hours of treatment per week. Often, clients will utilize various therapeutic interventions and approaches throughout treatment. Likewise, effective PHPs will prioritize using individualized care to ensure that all unique client needs are met during short- and long-term recovery.

A Step Up: Inpatient Treatment

Within the continuum of care for substance abuse treatment, a step up from PHP would be inpatient treatment. Inpatient treatment provides live-in care for clients. It offers 24/7 physical and psychological support services overseen by addiction professionals. Individuals in inpatient treatment participate in structured treatment programming during the day and return to a stable residential treatment setting at night. 

Inpatient treatment programs are recommended for individuals who experience a high risk of relapse. These people may have attempted sobriety in the past and have been unsuccessful or present severe symptoms of SUD or co-occurring mental health disorders. They are also a great fit for those who do not have access to healthy social support systems outside of treatment.

A Step Down: Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

Stepping down from PHP would involve utilizing an IOP. An IOP is still a highly structured form of outpatient care. However, it is less intensive than a PHP. Clients meet for shorter treatment intervals daily, equalling about half of the time spent in treatment for a PHP. It is essential to consider that less treatment time means more freedom. With more freedom, recovery complications are more likely to surface. 

IOP programs are recommended for those unable to put their responsibilities on hold while receiving treatment. Likewise, they are for individuals experiencing mild to moderate withdrawal symptoms, triggers, and cravings. Clients in IOP possess knowledge of valuable relapse prevention strategies.

A partial hospitalization program is the most intensive and highest-structured form of outpatient care. A step down from it would be an intensive outpatient program, whereas a step up would be an inpatient program. PHP can offer a high level of structured care and a shorter stay for inpatient programs. At 12 South Recovery, we offer a variety of treatment interventions and approaches in the realm of outpatient treatment. If you need a higher level of care, we can help you find placement. As you’re ready to decrease your treatment intensity, we’ll welcome you with open arms. When you’re ready to take steps toward recovery, call us at 866-839-6876.

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