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Intensive Outpatient Programs vs. Inpatient Treatment: What’s the Best Option for Your Teen?

It's important to consider your teen's mental health needs before choosing the right treatment option for them.

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Your teenager's mental health matters. Despite common misconceptions, mental health conditions do not selectively target adults. Studies show that mental health disorders are becoming increasingly common among teenagers and adolescents, and 50 percent of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14.

Without the right treatment program, your teen's mental health issues can encroach on every aspect of their life, from relationships to academics. By creating a strong support system during adolescence, you'll give your teen a healthy start as they grow into adulthood.

Fortunately, there are multiple treatment options to help your teen start their journey toward mental wellness. From inpatient to intensive outpatient programs (IOPs), here's how to make the best choice for your teen.

How does IOP treatment work?

Outpatient treatment provides an entry level of care for most teens who need mental health or addiction treatment. In contrast, intensive outpatient treatment provides a higher level of care than traditional outpatient treatment programs or weekly therapy sessions.

Unlike inpatient, intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) don't require living in a residential facility. They're real treatment programs that can challenge teenagers to learn, grow, and heal.

Virtual outpatient programs provide a convenient option for teenagers by offering comprehensive mental health care through HIPAA-compliant technology. With virtual therapy, teenagers don't have to put their daily lives on hold to start the healing process. Instead of living in a treatment center, your teen can attend appointments, learn positive coping skills, and make sustainable changes from the comfort of home.

At Charlie Health, our virtual IOP combines individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, and medication management (if needed) to create a comprehensive treatment plan based on your teen's mental health needs. After your clinical assessment, we'll connect your teen to a primary therapist who specializes in their specific needs. We'll also match your teen into curated therapy groups with peers navigating similar mental health issues so they can work toward holistic healing.

How do inpatient programs work?

Inpatient treatment provides around-the-clock support and monitoring, making it the best choice for at-risk teenagers. If your doctor recommends inpatient treatment, it typically means that:

  • Your teen has received a mental health condition or substance use disorder diagnosis
  • Their symptoms and behaviors are extremely uncomfortable and disruptive
  • Their symptoms and behaviors prevent them from participating in daily life
  • They will leave their daily life to develop coping skills to manage symptoms and start healing

Depending on your teen's specific situation, inpatient care may involve residential treatment or psychiatric hospitalization. Psychiatric hospitalization is the most immersive level of care for teenagers. Unlike residential treatment centers, hospitalization is for teens in immediate crisis.

If your teenager is actively suicidal, displays violence or aggression, or engages in dangerous behavior, hospitalization can provide a supportive environment with care from licensed clinicians. When your teen is safe and stable, your treatment team may recommend therapy, partial hospitalization, or detoxification (for substance use dependence).

How can you make the right choice for your teen?

Between inpatient treatment and intensive outpatient treatment, it's important to consider your teen's mental health needs to choose the right treatment option. If your teen's behavioral health issues or mental health symptoms are disruptive, dangerous, or interfering with their daily life, inpatient might be the best option.

If you're looking for a higher level of support beyond weekly therapy sessions, our IOP program can help your teen start the healing process in a safe home environment. Our state-of-the-art virtual IOP treats a wide range of mental health conditions, from anxiety to substance abuse. We're dedicated to meeting clients where they are, and we'll work with your teen to ensure treatment is accessible and convenient.

Our treatment team specializes in multiple therapeutic interventions, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), to create a personalized treatment plan for your teen. We also offer therapy sessions in the evenings and on weekends, so school, work, and extracurricular activities don't interfere with your teen's journey to mental wellness.

Contact Us

At Charlie Health, we offer personalized intensive outpatient programs for teens, young adults, and their family members. With our accessible telehealth program, your teen can connect with a licensed therapist from the comfort of their own home without putting their life on hold.

We believe in holistic treatment, and our treatment team will help your teen develop a sustainable aftercare plan with access to ongoing support. Contact us today to learn more about treatment options and take the next step.

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