According to research, 50% of the global population will receive a mental health disorder diagnosis before they turn 75. The most common mental illnesses include depression, anxiety, and PTSD, but there is hope despite the increasing prevalence of these conditions. Treatment generally consists of therapy and medication and is effective for the most widespread mental health disorders. One type of treatment is an IOP for mental health. IOPs, or intensive outpatient programs, are flexible, efficient alternatives to residential treatment. Are you searching for mental health treatment for yourself or a loved one and wondering if an IOP is the right choice? Learn about the benefits of choosing an IOP.

What Is an Intensive Outpatient Program?

An intensive outpatient program (IOP) treats mental health conditions and substance use disorders. It involves scheduled treatment sessions, which the patient commutes to and from. IOPs require more treatment hours than regular outpatient programs but fewer than inpatient care. Additionally, with inpatient programs, patients reside at the facility where they receive care. Enrolling in an IOP means you can live at home while getting the treatment you need.

IOPs are best for patients who do not require around-the-clock care. Most IOPs consist of six to nine treatment hours per week. Treatments may include but are not limited to individual therapy sessions, group therapy, psychiatric care, and medication management.

Who Needs an IOP for Mental Health?

An IOP for mental health is ideal for people with work, school, or home life obligations. They may require more intensive treatment than outpatient counseling can offer but cannot accommodate an inpatient program. IOPs are also an excellent solution for people transitioning out of inpatient care. Many people don’t feel ready to face the real world alone after residential treatment, and IOPs can help bridge the gap. These are not the only types of people doctors and mental health experts recommend for IOP treatment.

When is an IOP Not a Good Fit?

There are three groups that may not benefit from outpatient treatment, whether intensive or not. These groups include:

People who pose a threat to themselves may present with suicidal tendencies. IOP treatment may not be sufficient to ensure these individuals’ safety. Similarly, people with symptoms that cause them to fear or become aggressive towards others may benefit more from inpatient care or hospitalization. Having a solid home support system is crucial for effective outpatient treatment. Individuals who do not have supportive friends or family members should consider inpatient care.

Finally, IOPs are not for people with severe co-occurring addictions who need substance abuse treatment. IOPs do not offer detox or withdrawal management, often critical for these patients’ recovery. Additionally, IOPs do not remove you from potential temptations.

The Benefits of IOPs

One of the most significant benefits of IOPs is faster access to mental health treatment. Traditional outpatient therapists have long waiting lists due to mental health provider shortages. IOPs are less in demand and, thus, more widely available. Availability is not the only advantage of an IOP, though. Affordability, flexibility, and effectiveness are also reasons people choose IOPs for mental health.


Compared to inpatient treatment, IOPs are far more affordable. You do not have to pay for room and board, and the only cost patients are responsible for is the price of the services they receive. Additionally, insurance coverage is more widely available for IOPs. Health insurance providers only cover inpatient treatment when care in an outpatient setting is insufficient to address your symptoms.

Intensive outpatient treatment is generally equal to or less expensive than regular outpatient care. However, the cost of outpatient therapy may be spread out over time. IOPs incur similar costs but over a shorter period.


Many people choose outpatient mental health treatment due to its flexibility. Patients do not reside at the treatment facility. They can work, attend school, and spend time with family while receiving care.

Traditional outpatient treatment is also highly flexible. However, these programs do not offer the same level of condensed care as an IOP or a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP).


When compared to inpatient programs, IOPs are just as effective. A 2019 study investigated the efficacy of IOP versus inpatient treatment for depression. There was no significant difference between patient outcomes. To maximize the effectiveness of your treatment, choose a long-term IOP. Studies show the number of days spent in treatment is linked to protection from future hospitalization for mental health symptoms. Specifically, researchers have found that the maximum number of days to harness this benefit is 16. Attending more sessions may not increase this effect, though it may prevent the risk of mental health symptom relapse.

Mental Health Treatment in South Florida

An IOP for mental health may be the affordable, flexible, and effective treatment you need. These programs are ideal for people with work, school, or family obligations but are not for everyone.

Do you or a loved one need help for a mental health disorder in Lantana, FL? Comprehensive Wellness Centers offer inpatient and outpatient programs, including IOPs. Verify your insurance to get started.