Partial Hospitalization Programs
In This Article
Partial Hospitalization Program Definition
A partial hospitalization program (PHP) is a structured mental health program and type of addiction treatment where clients participate in activities during the day and return home at night. These programs are available at inpatient or residential treatment facilities.
PHPs provide structured, comprehensive care while still allowing people to live their lives outside of treatment.
They are sometimes called intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) or day programs because they don't require an overnight stay.
Partial hospital programs are for people diagnosed with a:4
- Substance use disorder (SUD)
- Alcohol use disorder (AUD)
- Mental health disorder
- Dual diagnosis (a SUD and co-occurring mental health disorder)
Someone in a partial hospitalization program is medically monitored during treatment. They participate in a variety of evidence-based therapies.
While the name can seem intimidating, a partial hospitalization program is simply a special outpatient treatment program. It's for people who need a higher level of behavioral health care than standard outpatient programs can provide.
What Happens in a Partial Hospitalization Program?
In a PHP, the following depends on the needs of each client:
- Type of treatment
- Length of treatment
- Intensity of treatments
- The medical treatment plan used
Other factors also determine a patient’s treatment plan:
- The severity of addiction
- Mental health treatment needs
- Medical insurance coverage
The most common services that partial hospitalization programs offer include:
- Behavioral therapies: Individual counseling (psychotherapy), group therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), contingency management, and mental health counseling.
- Case management: Most programs will assign a case manager to coordinate a person's treatment program.
- Relapse prevention: Counselors or therapists help come up with a relapse prevention plan. This plan identifies triggers, lists warning signs of a potential relapse, and details alternative courses of action.
- Holistic therapies: Yoga, art therapy, animal therapy, and other holistic treatments can be helpful for recovery.
- Fitness and nutrition: A person's body undergoes significant changes during detox and recovery. Nutritionists and fitness coaches can help people adjust.
- Medication management: Certain people may already be prescribed medication or need medication-assisted therapy from a licensed psychiatry provider.
- Vocational skill groups: Some facilities offer short-term skill development programs to help people prepare for the job force.
- Support groups: 12-step programs, peer counseling, and nonprofit organizations.
- Aftercare planning: This ensures that each person is set up for success. If necessary, they can continue treatment after completing the program.
While the treatments and therapies may vary, there are five stages to the program that everyone can expect:
The first stage is evaluation. Patients undergo:
- An interview
- Medical examination
- Urine test
These results provide the foundation of the treatment plan.
The next step is detox. The body must adjust to functioning without drugs or alcohol.
This can be a challenging stage. Withdrawal symptoms are also the worst during this time. Medical care and monitoring are usually necessary.
3. Psychological and Medical Treatment
After detox, therapy and other medical treatments begin.
They focus on the following:
- Learning skills and techniques to prevent relapse
- Discovering valuable resources
- Building a community of people committed to helping each other live healthy, sober lives
Once the knowledge and tools are established, the intensity of treatments will be scaled down.
The number of days or hours spent at the facility will decrease to focus on transitioning to a sober life.
Aftercare is an essential part of a partial hospitalization program.
Many groups help provide:
- Consistent maintenance
- Continuous skill-building and practicing
- Support and care throughout a person's sober life
These support groups include:
- Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
- SMART Recovery
- Other peer support systems
How Long is a Partial Hospitalization Program?
The length of a partial hospitalization program depends entirely on the patient’s needs. It is an intensive, short-term treatment method that could last a couple of weeks to several months.
They are designed to help you improve enough to move to an outpatient treatment program.
Partial Hospitalization Programs vs. Inpatient and Residential Programs
During inpatient and residential treatment programs, 100 percent of the program takes place at the facility.
Patients eat, sleep, and undergo all treatment at the residency for the duration of their program. The residency duration for both programs is typically 30, 60, or 90 days.
During partial hospitalization programs, all of the treatment services take place at the facility. However, the patient returns home to sleep.
Some programs provide food and transportation. These services vary depending on the agenda.
Often, if a patient has completed an inpatient treatment program, but still needs intensive care before fully integrating into society, a partial hospitalization program may be the next step.
Benefits of Partial Hospitalization Programs
One of the main benefits of PHP programs is the ability for patients to spend their evenings and weekends at home.
There are several other benefits of partial hospitalization, including:
- Consistent access to medical and behavioral health specialists. For example, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and psychologists
- More cost-effective than inpatient care
- Insurance may cover more sessions (you'll receive care for a longer period)
- Provides a slow and safe move from inpatient care to real life
- Allows people to practice skills they learn in treatment in the real world
- Flexible scheduling allows people to remain employed, in school, or take care of family responsibilities
- PHPs are filled with many specialists and experts, allowing them to lead highly effective educational classes
Who Should Enroll in a Partial Hospitalization Program?
The people who benefit the most from partial hospitalization programs typically:
- Require medical care and supervision
- Need more support than less intensive outpatient programs offers
- Have stable housing and a reliable support system at home
- Are people who need intensive care but have worries about the time commitment or cost
- Are people who have completed an inpatient program and need to continue their treatment
Cost and Payment
A partial hospitalization program typically costs less than an inpatient program. You won't have to pay for room and board. But they cost more than traditional outpatient programs because of the additional services provided.
The cost of a PHP depends on several factors, including:
- Services and amenities
- Length of stay
- Level of care
- Insurance coverage
The average PHP costs between $300 and $450 per day before insurance. Many insurances cover all or several of the treatments. They reduce the out-of-pocket cost significantly.
Check with your insurance provider and the treatment facility to find out what the program's actual cost will be. Treatment centers may also offer financial aid and payment options for anyone in need.
How to Find a Good Partial Hospitalization Program
Finding a treatment center can seem like an overwhelming task. But it’s a necessary step on the road to recovery.
To make sure you find the best treatment option, you’ll need to perform some research.
Here are some questions that you should ask to make sure the program is a good fit for you:
- What types of addictions do they treat?
- Are they prepared to treat co-occurring disorders if necessary?
- What kinds of therapies do they use?
- What are their patient policies?
- Do they provide case management and comprehensive aftercare?
- Do they accept your insurance?
- What are the payment options?
Anyone suffering from a substance use disorder deserves a chance to recover.
Call to find out how much your insurance will cover
- Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2006. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 45.)
- NIDA. "Principles of Adolescent Substance Use Disorder Treatment: A Research-Based Guide." National Institute on Drug Abuse, 14 Jan. 2014
- NIDA. "Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction." National Institute on Drug Abuse, 17 Jan. 2019
- “Definition of partial hospitalization. The National Association of Private Psychiatric Hospitals and the American Association for Partial Hospitalization.” The Psychiatric hospital vol. 21,2 : 89-90
- Khawaja, Imran S, and Joseph J Westermeyer. “Providing Crisis-oriented and Recovery-based Treatment in Partial Hospitalization Programs.” Psychiatry (Edgmont (Pa. : Township)) vol. 7,2 : 28-31.
- Baek, Hyunyoung et al. “Analysis of length of hospital stay using electronic health records: A statistical and data mining approach.” PloS one vol. 13,4 e0195901. 13 Apr. 2018