A partial hospitalization program (PHP) provides a connection between the acute, structured setting of inpatient treatment and the autonomy of outpatient treatment. Research shows that PHPs greatly reduces symptoms of substance use disorders and mental health conditions at less cost than inpatient or residential settings.
As a result, an increasing number of partial hospitalization programs have been developed across the country to meet the demand for treatment. Partial hospitalization, which offers access to acute medical and mental health services in a compressed time frame, is particularly well-suited for managing co-occurring disorders, or two conditions that occur at the same time.
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What Is Partial Hospitalization?
Most PHPs offer amenities that have at least some similarity to inpatient treatment. But exactly what is partial hospitalization, and how does a PHP lead to positive treatment outcomes?
One way to formulate a partial hospitalization definition is to understand the differences between PHP and its inpatient and outpatient treatment counterparts. Partial hospitalization programs consist of short-term, intensive treatment that has less acuity than inpatient treatment, but offers more services and a higher level of care than outpatient treatment.
During most partial hospitalization programs, patients are not required to stay overnight, but the program has at least six hours of therapeutic program activities from five to seven days per week. However, program requirements vary.
Activities in a PHP usually include:
- Medical support
- Mental health counseling
- Several types of therapy, including traditional and holistic options
- Relapse prevention planning
- Education about mental health conditions
- Other psycho-educational activities
- Access to indoor and outdoor amenities, as medically appropriate
Partial hospitalization can itself be a starting point for recovery processes but is usually a direct segue from inpatient hospitalization. Since PHP is often the first treatment after inpatient, it is an integral aspect of establishing healthy habits for sobriety.
How Partial Hospitalization Works
The PHP model of treatment became widely popular in the 1990s due to its effectiveness. A growing body of research shows that partial hospitalization programs reduce symptoms associated with addiction and mental health conditions.
Typically, partial hospitalization programs are offered as a step-down program after completion of inpatient hospitalization or residential treatment. These programs allow patients to reintegrate into the world outside of the protective structure of acute inpatient care. However, PHPs are still able to offer high-level services and therapeutic programming on a relatively short-term basis.
In PHP, clients are usually physically and psychologically stable and do not need inpatient hospitalization. Clients participate in activities several times per day. These activities consist primarily of individual and group therapy sessions designed to improve a patient’s self-confidence, decision-making skills, and communication abilities. Nurses provide continuous assessment and education about medication, and patients have regular access to both medical and psychiatric care.
Planning for treatment in a PHP usually starts during the preceding inpatient or residential stay. Program administrators help patients understand the structure of the program and help ensure that clients know exactly which costs will be covered and by whom.
Services Offered in PHP
Partial hospitalization programs usually offer a variety of services, including:
- Evaluation and treatment of drug and alcohol addiction
- Evaluation and treatment of co-existing mental health conditions
- Individual, group and family therapy
- Medication-assisted treatment, if necessary
- Nutritional and dietary counseling
- Support and mutual-help groups, such as 12-step-based groups
- Exercise, recreational and activities therapy
Benefits of Partial Hospitalization Programs
Since PHPs bridge the space between inpatient hospitalization and outpatient treatment, the benefits of partial hospitalization programs feature elements common to both forms of treatment:
- Structured, intensive therapy
- Expanded access to medical care
- High access to mental health care
- Regular meetings
Additional benefits of PHPs include:
- Program hours: The hours of partial hospitalization are often similar to those of office-based employment, which is by design. Keeping the hours of partial hospitalization similar to what would be expected of a day at the office helps clients transition back into working hours and helps them solidify their understanding of how much work sobriety requires.
- Structured daytime treatment schedule: The schedule underscores the importance of a PHP to the recovery efforts of someone who is in early sobriety and serves as a reminder that learning the skills of sobriety must be a top priority.
- Better chance at life-long sobriety: People who participate in PHPs as a continuum of rehab programs, like starting with detox and transitioning to inpatient and then a PHP, typically have stronger recoveries than people who participate in only one program.
PHP for Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders
When a drug or alcohol addiction is accompanied by a mental health condition, it intensifies the need for treatment and services. Without treatment, the presence of co-occurring addiction and mental health conditions result in worse outcomes. With treatment, both conditions display a disproportionate amount of improvement compared to those who have either a mental health condition or an addiction by itself.
Partial hospitalization programs are particularly well-suited to meet the needs of clients with co-occurring mental health conditions. It takes time and expertise to understand how addiction and mental health conditions interact, and what effect treatment has on the outcomes of these conditions.
At The Recovery Village, medical professionals and psychiatric care providers are well-versed in co-occurring disorders treatment and understand its impact on a person’s ability to engage in a full recovery effort.
Closely related to co-occurring disorders treatment is the collaborative care model, where acute and chronic medical needs are addressed in conjunction with treatment for substance use disorders and mental health treatment. This integrative approach allows patients to be treated holistically in settings that offer access to treatment of medical, psychiatric and addictive conditions. Partial hospitalization provides access to all these forms of treatment and thus is equipped to handle complex situations.
Are You a Good Candidate for PHP?
The candidates who are most likely to best utilize partial hospitalization programs are:
- Those who demonstrate the desire and capacity to actively participate in therapy
- Patients who have completed medical detox
- Patients who are transitioning from residential treatment or from inpatient hospitalization
- Those with stability in housing, social support and community
If you are seeking treatment for addiction or a mental health condition, or both, it is important to know whether or not PHP is the optimal level of treatment. Patients are most likely to effectively utilize a partial hospitalization program if they:
- Need intensive therapy, but do not meet criteria for inpatient hospitalization
- Require medical follow-up, without acute medical treatment needs
- Have a co-occurring addiction and mental health condition
- Desire an effective transition from the structure of inpatient or residential treatment to outpatient therapy
How Much Does Partial Hospitalization Cost?
As a rule, the more intensive the rehab program is, the higher the cost of treatment. Partial hospitalization programs represent a lower acuity setting than inpatient or residential treatment, and thus the cost of PHP is lower. However, because partial hospitalization provides access to high-level medical care and mental health treatment, its costs are higher than that of outpatient programs.