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  • Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Solutions

IOP? Partial program? Let's Talk Levels of Psychiatric Care

If you're new to the world of psychiatric care, you probably have a few questions, such as:

What is the appropriate level of care for me or my child? What if outpatient services aren't enough? What is an IOP? What is a partial program?

And most of all: Where should I start?

If you're asking yourself these questions, we're glad you're here.

Psychiatric health care is comprised of several tiers of care. Keep reading to learn more about the differences between outpatient, partial, and inpatient services.

Tier 1

The least intense form of care is therapy, sometimes called talk therapy or psychotherapy. Typically, this means a therapist meets with a patient (and/or the patient's family) and the two parties discuss the patient's symptoms or struggles. Therapists provide patients with coping techniques or other strategies to manage their areas of difficulty. Therapy sessions usually occur between a weekly or monthly basis.

At CAPS, we have nine wonderful therapists devoted to helping each and every one of their clients. You can read more about who they are here.

Tier 2

Medication is the next step in psychiatric care. If therapy alone is not providing enough relief or assistance for a patient, they may consider beginning medication. This involves meeting with a psychiatrist to discuss the patient's diagnoses, symptoms, and desired outcomes. Once a psychiatrist has prescribed a medication for a patient, the patient must adhere to regular follow-up sessions to determine whether the medication is an appropriate fit.

Read more about our prescribing psychiatrist, Dr. Dan Udrea, here.

Tier 3

Following the outpatient services of therapy and medication would be Intensive Outpatient Programs, or IOPs. These programs, which often require a patient's attendance multiple days per week for a period of several weeks, offer individual and group therapy and medication management at a higher intensity than a traditional outpatient setting.

Patients may be referred to an IOP if therapy and medication at the outpatient level are determined not effective enough. Upon completion of an IOP, depending on their status, patients may return to treatment with their original therapist and psychiatrist.

Tier 4

Slightly higher in intensity of care would be a partial hospitalization program. These programs typically host entire days of therapy and support, including individual and group therapy and medication management. Patients will attend the program on a daily basis, but return home in the evenings.

Partial programs may be the best fit for a patient recently discharged from the hospital who still requires ample support.

Tier 5

The most intense form of psychiatric care is inpatient hospitalization. Patients who are hospitalized often pose the risk of harming themselves or others and must be monitored for safety.

Typically, a person will remain in inpatient hospitalization settings for a period of time up to two weeks, then will transition back down to a lower level of care like a partial program or IOP. They may eventually return to their original therapist and/or psychiatrist if or when outpatient services become the appropriate form of care.

More questions about psychiatric care? Let us know in the comments!

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