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It’s a challenging task to navigate through the complicated spectrum of available addictions and mental health treatment programs. The process of picking the most effective care can be especially daunting for patients and their families. Two of the most commonly prescribed addiction and mental health treatment options are Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) and standard Outpatient Services. Understanding the differences in IOP vs outpatient care can help make this decision easier.

At Southern Live Oak Wellness in Georgia, our goal is to provide the highest level of care for the needs of the people we serve. That’s why we’re writing this article to compare and contrast these two effective forms of care. In this blog, we’ll discuss the differences between IOP vs Outpatient Services.

Comparing IOP vs Outpatient Services

Discussing iop vs outpatient with a therapist

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) and normal Outpatient Services are valid pathways to recovery but each is best suited for different needs and levels of care. IOP is more intensive than the usual outpatient services. A typical partial hospitalization program (PHP) involves multiple hours of therapy and support sessions, usually scheduled multiple days a week. 

Certain individuals benefit from this type of high-level care when a 24/7 structure is not necessary and other basic responsibilities or daily functions must still be maintained such as work or attending school. On the other hand, just like a regular outpatient program, the outpatient service offers more flexibility than the other programs. It is best suited for an individual with less severe symptoms or those who are transitioning from a higher level of care such as an inpatient or residential treatment. 

When a person afflicted with a mental health illness is ready to receive treatment, determining whether the care is provided through IOP or outpatient services is decided only after a comprehensive assessment and carefully designed treatment care plan is formulated. At Southern Live Oak Wellness (SLOW), we provide a full spectrum of treatment services, and we help assess and formulate the right care plan and level of intervention that best serves the interests of each patient.

What does an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) offer?

Group therapy in OP in progress

First and foremost, recovery through a structured treatment process. In the IOP we offer individual therapy, group counseling, and educational sessions in a multi-pronged approach to treatment. This allows us to hit issues of mental health from all sides and treat addiction swiftly and accurately. In addition to these sources of treatment, we see our clients more frequently which allows us to adjust their plan as life ebbs and flows. 

The IOP is useful not only in the treatment of those who struggle with addiction and mental health disorders but those who can build meaningful personal connections and community with others in recovery. At Southern Live Oak Wellness in Georgia, we offer an IOP that pairs evidence-based practices with modalities and holistic therapies.

Therefore, people must know the appropriate level of care for consistent and lasting recovery. A trained clinician can make this decision and help support people so they know they’re getting the right level of care based on their needs, symptoms, and personal life circumstances. At Southern Live Oak Wellness, clinicians perform in-depth assessments to determine the most appropriate level of care for each person, following clinical guidelines and best practices. This ensures that people don’t experience either under-treatment or over-treatment and that the intensity of treatment is right for each case. It also helps in the early recovery process, it’s very important that someone feels they receive the right care at the right level.

What do standard outpatient services offer?

Standard outpatient services are also successful, but the results are largely dependent on who is receiving the treatment and for what condition. While our research has concrete data, we do know that IOPs can be as effective as inpatient treatment for the right person: those needing rigorous support but in an environment that does not require residential commitments. For those with milder symptoms or those for whom more intensive treatment has already been effective, standard outpatient services are highly effective. 

At Southern Live Oak Wellness, the effectiveness of each program is assessed and often reinforced or changed to ensure the best possible outcome: I constantly remind people that the correct choice will always be the best one for a particular person’s situation.

The Stigma Around IOP vs Outpatient Programs

Although these services are more effective than inpatient services, more affordable than residential services, and are often a better treatment alternative for IOP clients, IOP, and outpatient services also create an element of stigma around mental health and addiction. 

This stigma could be related to a perception that an individual’s condition is not severe enough to warrant inpatient services or fear of being ‘found out’ by friends, co-workers, family, and others. In working to reduce the stigma associated with mental health and addiction, educational efforts at Southern Live Oak Wellness help to break down walls that may prevent people from getting the help they need and normalize seeking treatment and recovery.

The Southern Live Oak Wellness Difference

Arial view of Southern Live Oak Wellness Facility

Southern Live Oak Wellness differs from other IOPs by providing complex, individualized, experientially focused alcohol and drug treatment based on biological, psychological, and social factors, not a singular intervention while maintaining serenity in our setting and support from our culture to better address the mental health and wellness challenges faced by our clients. 

We provide traditional remedies such as 12-step facilitation, family education, and spiritual practices, the newest modalities such as somatic and neuroscience-based therapies, and supplemental treatments such as yoga, meditation, and breathwork to enhance the healing experience. As such, our IOP is less a treatment program and more an experience.

Deciding on IOP vs Outpatient Programs

IOP versus outpatient services can make the difference in whether or not someone gets well – we follow the attendant nuance when assessing. Even though IOP at Southern Live Oak Wellness or other trained programs don’t look or feel like a hospital, it remains the correct option for many. At the same time, if outpatient is the better option, it is a vastly different experience (offering more choice and structure for the work side), and just as effective, if we can provide what each person truly needs. 

We have your back – at Southern Live Oak Wellness, we are committed to walking alongside each individual until they find the path to enduring recovery. Let’s get started as we help you find your way. To learn more about our care and support available in Georgia, contact us today!

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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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      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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      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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      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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