How long is an intensive outpatient program?

The renowned American psychologist, Dr. Wayne Dyer, famously said, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” This change or “psychic shift” is what can happen if an intensive outpatient program (IOP) works properly.

When it comes to how long an IOP is, perhaps the best answer should be “as long as it takes.” However, of course, we here at The Phoenix Recovery Center know how unrealistic that is. This is why we do our best to ensure that our clients get the tools and techniques they need during an IOP. They can utilize them as they transition to a general outpatient program (GOP) or go into their community and back to their families to live happy lives of long-term recovery.

What Exactly Is an Intensive Outpatient Program?

Dr. Dyer was also known to tell people that they should “Go for it now” because “the future is promised to no one.” This takes on an even more relevant meaning when it comes to individuals struggling with their mental health or issues of addiction. Not only is the future “not promised,” but without professional help, the future can consistently look dim.

For individuals struggling, an IOP can help them begin to create a future that no longer exists in that mental health disorder “darkness.” The right IOP can be the key to a future that was once thought impossible. So then, what exactly is an IOP?

An IOP is a treatment program that allows an individual struggling with issues of mental health and/or substance use to work with therapists and engage in a recovery plan while also remaining able to interact with the “outside world.” An IOP is best suited for individuals that are symptomatic but whose symptoms don’t wholly inhibit them from going about their day-to-day lives. This is ideal for people that don’t have the option to be away from home or work for an extended period of time.

The Benefits of an Intensive Outpatient Program

Understanding Comorbidities of OCD

An IOP can be highly beneficial in that it allows a client to work closely with therapists and mental health specialists while also maintaining a close presence in their loved ones’ lives. Some people may argue that the “one foot in/one foot out aspect” of an IOP is dangerous for individuals that should focus solely on their recovery. This issue is that these people aren’t taking personal details into account. Everyone’s story and needs are different, thus their recovery plans should be different as well.

An IOP can be highly valuable to those that need it. Some powerful benefits of an IOP include:

  • Allows for more flexibility and mobility for those that cannot be away from work or home for an extended period of time
  • Provides the skills and structure needed to continue a life in long-term recovery
  • Is often significantly less expensive than other forms of residential treatment
  • Allows for easier integration out of treatment, either fully back into everyday life, or transitioning to a GOP

Of course, there are many other benefits. However, it is also important to remember that an IOP can only be beneficial if it is the right IOP for the person. This is yet another reminder of the importance of individualized care.

The Duration of an Intensive Outpatient Program

While there are many variations to the length of stay in IOPs, the most common length is between 8-12 weeks. This is considered the length of time necessary to establish a good relationship with an individual therapist, and enough time to make some connections in group therapy. It is also a reasonable period of time for individuals struggling with addiction to get acquainted with recovery groups in their community that can help them after an IOP.

Now, an IOP may last longer based on the recommendations of the mental health professional’s insights into how a client is doing. It is recommended that this advice to stay longer be taken seriously, as the alternative could be having to start an IOP again in the future. Taking the time, and doing it right the first time, is always the best way to go.