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A young woman has benefited from an intensive outpatient program.

Could You Benefit From an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)?

4 min.

An intensive outpatient program (IOP) serves those who need multiple hours of weekly therapy for several months at a time. Take this quiz to see if you may benefit from an IOP.

By: Charlie Health Editorial Team

Clinically Reviewed By: Dr. Caroline Fenkel, DSW, LCSW

January 31, 2024

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Table of Contents

Disclaimer: This resource is not a diagnostic tool or substitute for professional mental health advice. It is not meant to imply the prevalence of any mental or physical health issue(s). 

Who is this intensive outpatient program resource for? 

This intensive outpatient program (IOP) resource is designed for anyone who wants to know if they may benefit from an IOP. Knowing if you might benefit from an IOP can empower you to take steps toward getting the mental healthcare you need. 

Using this short, seven-question IOP resource will help establish how likely it is that you may benefit from an IOP. However, this resource isn’t a diagnostic tool and doesn’t replace advice from a licensed mental health provider. 

After using this resource, regardless of your result, it may be helpful to talk with a mental health professional who can assess your well-being and create a personalized treatment plan.

What is an intensive outpatient program?

An IOP is a structured and holistic mental health treatment option designed for people who need more support than once-weekly therapy but don’t require round-the-clock care. It’s an option between traditional outpatient care and residential or inpatient programs and typically lasts for several months.

IOPs allow people to receive intensive support while maintaining independence and daily routines. The treatment option is commonly used for conditions like mood disorders, anxiety disorders, trauma-related disorders, personality disorders, and co-occurring substance use disorders.

A typical IOP involves a combination of group therapy, individual counseling, family therapy, and psychiatric support over the course of a couple of months. In Charlie Health’s IOP, a typical schedule involves:

  • 1 hour of individual therapy every week
  • 1 to 2 hours of family therapy every week
  • 3 hours of group therapy sessions per day, held 3 days a week 
  • Psychiatric care as needed 

How effective are intensive outpatient programs in addressing complex mental health conditions?

Research consistently shows that IOPs are an effective form of treatment for complex mental health conditions, benefiting people who need more than once-weekly therapy for months at a time but don’t require inpatient or residential care. Studies from Charlie Health confirm these findings, demonstrating that virtual IOP also benefits people with high acuity mental health needs. 

A 2022 study in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania found that Charlie Health’s virtual IOP drove industry-leading outcomes for clients and eliminated traditional barriers to in-person care. Specifically, teens and young adults who received treatment at Charlie Health reported notably fewer depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation, and instances of self-harm at discharge. Also, they attended 91% of their scheduled sessions, surpassing the industry average of 65%.

These benefits extend beyond the time of treatment, data shows. Recent peer-reviewed research found that Charlie Health’s virtual IOP significantly reduced emergency room utilization for mental health services. Findings suggest that 94% of clients who had previously been admitted to the ER for mental health concerns avoided further admissions in the three months following completion of Charlie Health. These studies, among many other outcome reports, demonstrate that virtual IOP is an effective form of treatment for those dealing with complex mental health conditions, including depression, suicidal ideation, self-harm, and more.  

How can this intensive outpatient program resource help me?

This IOP resource can help you assess whether an IOP might be a beneficial mental health treatment option. It provides a structured way to reflect on your symptoms, level of needed support, crisis situation, and openness to an IOP’s structure and intensity. Knowing if you may benefit from an IOP can empower you to seek the right kind of mental health treatment. While it offers guidance, this resource doesn’t replace a professional mental health assessment. 

What do the results of this intensive outpatient program resource mean? 

You may benefit from an IOP

You may not benefit from an IOP

This usually means that an IOP is a treatment option that might work for you. Seek professional help to determine the best course of treatment.

This usually means that an IOP is a treatment option that might work for you. Seek professional help to determine the best course of treatment.

This resource isn’t meant to diagnose any mental health conditions or determine a course of treatment, and it isn’t a substitute for professional mental health support. Instead, it is designed to help you understand how likely it is you may benefit from IOP. Assessing your mental health situation and treatment options can empower you to seek the right kind of mental health treatment. 

What if this resource says I may benefit from an intensive outpatient program? 

Some people who use this resource will find that they may benefit from an IOP. This usually means that an IOP is a treatment option that might work for you. Seeking help from a mental health professional or contacting an IOP provider like Charlie Health can help you determine the best course of treatment.  

What if this resource says I may not benefit from an intensive outpatient program? 

Some people who use this resource will find that they may not benefit from an IOP. This usually means that an IOP is not a treatment option that might work for you right now. However, people who don’t need an IOP can still benefit from professional mental health support and are advised to reach out to a provider to determine the best course of treatment.

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