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In mental health treatment, generally speaking, ‘one size does not fit all’. Although individuals may have a similar diagnosis, their experience and treatment plan are tailored based on the individual’s current needs, identified treatment targets, and goals. 

There is no ‘magic pill’ formula. Given these needs, it is natural to expect that an individual’s process toward well-being is their own. With this in mind, Southern Live Oak Wellness (SLOW) provides a variety of services that complement each other and together can be tailored into a robust and comprehensive recovery plan.

These are partial hospitalization, sometimes called PHP, and intensive outpatient care, or IOP for short. There’s a significant difference in each offering, even if their premise is fairly similar. That’s why it’s important to know the true difference when you’re on your path to mental health recovery. 

Discussing iop vs outpatient with a therapist

What is Partial Hospitalization (PHP)?


 A PHP (partial hospitalization program) offers more structure and clinically intensive treatment compared to outpatient therapy. Those who participate in PHP attend a full day of therapy and support groups, five or more days a week, generally remaining at home during evenings and weekends, but in a more supervised and structured environment than in an IOP.

Benefits of Partial Hospitalization at Southern Live Oak Wellness

A higher level of care called PHP, which is highly structured, often provided for eight hours a day, five days a week, and includes more formal support from qualified professionals, might be a better option than IOP for individuals who would benefit from more intensive treatment. Stabilization phase: people with acute or immediate symptoms or those needing urgent stabilization before moving to a lower level of care might benefit from PHP. 

  • Structured Daily Routine: The structured schedule of PHP could help provide stability and routine which could be important for symptom management and the development of coping strategies.
  • Lowered risk factors: Because people in PHP receive more structure and supervision, self-harm or a return to symptoms is lowered. 
  • Group and Individual Therapy: PHP incorporates individual and group therapy sessions, providing participants with skill-building and peer support.

Who is a Good Candidate for PHP?

  • Individuals experiencing severe mental health symptoms that require close monitoring and support.
  • Those off the ward are still under close clinical scrutiny and need high levels of structure and supervision.
  • People who were at risk of suicide or other self-harming behaviors, or were at high risk of relapse, and therefore needed a secure place from which to manage such risks.
  • Individuals with significant difficulties managing daily routines and functioning independently.

What is Intensive Outpatient Care (IOP)?

Intensive outpatient care (IOP), a program that requires participants to come in for several hours of therapy and groups several days a week but allows them to return home in the evening, seemed like the perfect way to balance clients’ work or school obligations with treatment.

Intensive outpatient programming through Southern Live Oak can provide the opportunity for healing that you are looking for.

Benefits of IOP at Southern Live Oak Wellness

  • Balance Between Treatment and Daily Responsibilities: With six hours of intensive psychotherapy and addiction education per day, IOP provides the intensive therapy necessary for many, while still allowing patients to attend to their responsibilities.
  • Increased Flexibility: We offer day and night IOP options to accommodate your needs and schedule, decreasing transitional daily life issues. 
  • Transition: IOP may be a step down for people moving from a PHP or inpatient program to a less intensive outpatient therapy program. 
  • Use Skills in Real-World Settings: With IOP, you can utilize the skills from your therapy in any situation in your life, leading to faster progress and lasting recovery. 
  • Supportive Community: One of the best aspects of IOP at home is the ability to connect to other individuals in recovery facing similar challenges as you. It’s important during the struggles of recovery to have a supportive community to connect with and share experiences.

Who is a Good Candidate for IOP?

  • People who need more than the intervention that can be provided in traditional outpatient therapy, but who still have a caring and supportive home environment and network.
  •  Those seeking to step down from an inpatient or partial hospitalization program (also known as PHP) to an outpatient program, or an outpatient program from a lower tier of outpatient care.
  • People who can benefit from the structure and support of a program but who prefer to enjoy some independence in their general daily lives. 

Taking the Next Step: Deciding Between PHP and IOP

It feels impossible to decide between PHP and IOP, yet it’s crucial to make the right choice:  Here are the main actionable steps to help you decide between PHP and IOP:

  • Take Your Case to a Mental Health Professional: A licensed therapist or psychiatrist should assess your needs based on your case and give you the most beneficial program for your particular situation. To make this important step easier, Southern Live Oak Wellness can provide you with a free consultation.
  • Consider your symptoms: PHP is typically recommended for those with acute or severe symptoms in need of monitoring and support, while IOP might be more appropriate for those with less severe symptoms who can manage daily routines with some support. 
  • Evaluate Home Support System: Are you lucky enough to have a solid social circle at home, one who can step in to lend a helping hand? A great support system can make IOP work. But if you need stronger monitoring or your home life is not conducive to recovery, PHP might be better.
  • Consider Your Daily Obligations: Can you work, attend classes, or take care of your family while attending treatment? The flexibility of IOP will ensure that you can still manage your daily obligations while receiving your intensive treatment. On the other hand, if your current schedule of responsibilities makes it difficult to devote your mind and energy to treatment, PHP could provide you with the structure and focus you need.
  • Level of Independence: Are you comfortable with navigating daily life with some supervision? IOP lets you practice skills you learned in treatment in the real world and fosters more independence. If you need greater oversight or more support managing your daily life, PHP might be a better (and safer) place to learn coping skills.
  • Consider Your Long-Term Journey: What is your ideal path through recovery? Do you want to return to work or school right away? IOP will help you get there because you will be able to continue to juggle IOP and your school or work responsibilities. Or do you wish to first build a sturdy residential foundation that allows for an easier transition back into the daily flow of life activities? PHP might represent a longer period of inpatient structure.

Keep in mind, that there is not a correct answer to choosing which program is best for you. The best program for you will be the program that best fits the towpath you are following at the stage of your recovery journey. 

Southern Live Oak Wellness is Here to Help

Choose the right partial hospitalization program with SLOW


Dealing with thinking through your options regarding treatment might seem impossible. At Southern Live Oak Wellness, we are ready to compassionately walk with you in taking this best step forward. Consider this an open invitation. 

We can talk with you over the phone, or face-to-face at a brief complimentary consultation to discuss your needs, answer your questions, and share the details about our program. We want to discuss your specific needs for PHP, IOP, or whatever clinical model might be appropriate. 

We will welcome calls for phone consultations around needs and any options at Southern Live Oak Wellness. Our goal is to support you as you step into your legacy, whatever that is for you. Please don’t hesitate. We are ready to create a path for you toward mental wellness and a life well-lived. 

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What Our Clients Say

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    I have so much to say about this wonderful place, but I’m sure my words will never do my experience justice. Southern Live Oak Wellness and it’s people not only helped me find myself again, but they saved my life.

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    Johns Creek, GA
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    Southern Live Oak Wellness saved my life. The therapists genuinely care about the clients and helping them get better. Working on yourself is not easy, but the therapists help guide you and make you be able to work through whatever may be going on.

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    Lawrenceville, GA
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    I can easily say that Southern Live Oak wellness saved my life. I had hit rock bottom when I first got admitted and they helped me build myself up from nothing. I have learned how to cope with things I never thought I would be able to handle.

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    Dallas, GA
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      Going to SLOW has impacted my life in ways I never thought possible. I came for help with my mental state and came out with so much more; life skills, medical advice, mental health counseling and addiction treatment. SLOW is a whole life transformation program and I highly recommend it to anyone I know!

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      Kennesaw, GA
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      When I was a part of this program, I had the most personal growth I’ve had in my entire life. All of the tech staff were willing to talk to me whenever I felt like I needed someone to talk to and the group sessions gave me multiple perspectives I never would’ve thought of from people in similar situations to me.

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      Belleville, IL
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      This place has changed my life. For the first time in my life I felt heard and cared about. The clinical staff is amazing. The groups are well structured. You learn a lot of different skills to help you in life this is the best mental health facility to come to.

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      Brunswick, GA

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