Table of Contents

What is an Intensive Outpatient Program?

An Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) is a treatment option used to address addiction, mood disorders eating disorders, or other dependencies that do not require detoxification or round-the-clock supervision.

An Intensive Outpatient Program can help you to establish a foundation for long-term recovery while remaining in your local community. These programs are designed to establish support mechanisms to help provide coping strategies and help you to begin the process of mending and rebuilding your personal life.

IOPs are done on a part-time but intensive schedule, to accommodate school, work and family life.

Who would benefit from an Intensive Outpatient Program?

Participants in IOPs are able to learn more about their disorders and to obtain new coping skills. They are particularly suited to:

  1. Someone who is not progressing in traditional weekly outpatient treatment, but does not need a higher level of care, like hospitalization.
  2. Someone who is transitioning out of an inpatient treatment program and into an independent living situation.
  3. Someone leaving rehab who needs more time in an established and structured recovery environment.

What is the practical benefit of participating in an Intensive Outpatient Program?

This type of therapy offers people a high level of care but leaves room for them to work or attend school. The aim is to maintain or reinstate their day to day lives and the supportive connections they already have in the community.

The primary goal is to support long-term recovery through the development of an ongoing plan for sober living and general well-being.

The difference between inpatient and outpatient care

An inpatient facility is a live-in treatment center that offers more hands-on support, while an outpatient facility gives you the flexibility to get the help you need while living at home and going about your daily routine.

LifeStance Health is a national leader in mental, behavioral, and emotional wellness with multiple locations in 33 states. Services vary by location.

Find a provider near you:

While services are offered with Intensive Outpatient Programs?

  • Group and Individual Therapy Behavioral Therapies
  • Drug and Alcohol Monitoring
  • Educational Opportunities
  • Mental Health and Medical Treatment
  • Crisis Management

What to expect from Intensive Outpatient Therapy

IOP programs include a higher level of care than general outpatient programs, and this means dedicating more time to treatment each week. IOP is typically made up of 10-12 hours of group and individual therapy each week, as well as participation in a 12-step program. Patients in IOP programs usually visit a facility three to four times per week, often for three hours at a time.

On the first day of therapy you will typically attend some form of individual or group therapy along with a medication management appointment. You will also decide about the days of the week and the hours that you will attend.

When is outpatient therapy the right or wrong choice?

An outpatient care facility is a good choice for someone who needs:

  • A Sober Environment
  • More Structure
  • Help with Accountability
  • Help with Social Skills

An inpatient care facility is the better choice for someone dealing with:

  • Suicidal Behaviors
  • Withdrawal and Detox
  • Medical Concerns
  • An Unsupportive Home Environment
photo of LifeStance provider Angela Eschbacher, LPC
Medically Reviewed By:
Angela Eschbacher, LPC
View Profile

Angie Eschbacher, MA LPC graduated from Lindenwood University with a bachelors in Psychology and a master’s degree in Professional Counseling. Angie has experience in Intake & Evaluation and experience working with children and adults in group therapy in the Intensive Outpatient Program. Angie takes a client-centered approach to fit the needs of the individual, integrating solution focused, cognitive-behavioral models, and mindfulness-based techniques to help manage anxiety, depression, bullying, anger, stress management, life transitions, and substance abuse in a non-judgmental environment.