Q: One of my health care providers recommended I consider joining an “IOP.” What is an IOP and why is it necessary? I’ve been seeing an individual therapist for over a year now. Isn’t that enough?
A: We live in an increasingly confusing acronym world (e.g., HMO, Ph.D., IIRC). While they can be useful, they often further complicate our health care system. “IOP” or “Intensive Outpatient Program” is a type of mental health intervention that continues to gain traction with many care providers. In addition to being cost effective, data support the use of IOP in helping patients make substantial changes to severe and/or chronic mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety/panic, disordered eating habits, substance abuse and other addictive behaviors, self-harm, and more. A typical IOP tends to have longer, more in-depth sessions over a relatively short period of time. While this amount of treatment can seem daunting, commitment to the model often allows for faster and more substantial improvement that would be expected from a greater level of care.
If a health care provider has made a recommendation for IOP, there is likely good reason behind it. First of all, there is no such thing as a “silver bullet” treatment approach; what works for one person is not necessarily what works for another. Similarly, it may be that you are not receiving an appropriate level of care. In other words, pain medication may provide some relief from a broken leg, but it will not be enough to getting you back on that bicycle.
Just as with individual therapy, there are numerous approaches to take with IOP. At Premier Behavioral Health Services, we provide Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT – another acronym!). DBT focuses on using Mindfulness to reduce stress by teaching patients to master skills that they can use outside of therapy. These skills include ways of staying in the moment, rather than worrying about the future or obsessing about the past; getting your emotions to work for you rather than the other way around; tolerating those situations that create suffering and that don’t have immediate solutions; and creating and maintaining healthy relationships with others.
In the end, therapy can be viewed as a means for obtaining a life worth living, not maintaining a life that is tolerable. Where are you in your life right now? If you think that IOP could be beneficial, or if you have any questions about your treatment options, please call us to schedule an appointment within 24 hours of your call.