Partial Hospitalization for Bipolar Disorder

Learn more about how partial hospitalization for bipolar disorder can help you live a happier, healthier life.

Partial Hospitalization for Bipolar Disorder: What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition characterized by extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).

The exact cause of bipolar disorder isn’t completely understood. But a combination of genetics, environment, and altered brain structure and chemistry may play a role.

Partial Hospitalization for Bipolar Disorder

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder symptoms can vary from person to person. But, common symptoms include:

Manic Episodes

During a manic episode, a person may feel very elated, irritable, or energized. They may also have:1
  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Talkativeness
  • Racing thoughts
They may also engage in risky behavior.


Hypomania is similar to mania but less severe. It doesn’t often affect work or social functioning or require hospitalization, but it’s noticeable to others and the person.

Depressive Episodes

During a depressive episode, a person may:
  • Feel sad or hopeless
  • Lose interest in most activities
  • Have low energy
  • Experience sleep disturbances and changes in appetite
  • Have feelings of worthlessness
  • Experience thoughts of death or suicide

Types of Bipolar Disorder

There are several types of bipolar disorder, including Bipolar I, Bipolar II, and Cyclothymic Disorder. They each have specific criteria based on the type and severity of mood episodes experienced.


Treatment often involves a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Mood stabilizers, antipsychotic medications, and antidepressants are commonly used to manage symptoms.

Psychotherapy approaches like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can also be effective in managing the disorder.

Regular follow-up and adherence to treatment are crucial, as bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition. Managing stress, maintaining a regular schedule, and staying educated about the condition are also important parts of self-care.

Partial Hospitalization for Bipolar Disorder vs. Other Treatment Modalities

Partial hospitalization for bipolar disorder offers a structured environment while allowing patients to return home at night. This strikes a balance between intensive care and independent living.

But, how does partial hospitalization for bipolar disorder differ from other treatment options?

Intensity and Setting

Inpatient treatment provides 24/7 care in a hospital setting. It’s suitable for severe episodes or crises.
Outpatient care involves regular visits to a healthcare provider but allows patients to maintain their normal daily routine.

A PHP is more intensive than regular outpatient treatment but less restrictive than inpatient care, often operating during business hours, 5-7 days a week.

Duration and Commitment

Partial hospitalization for bipolar disorder requires a significant time commitment (e.g., several hours per day). This is more than typical outpatient therapy but less than inpatient hospitalization.

Criteria and Assessments for Eligibility

Some of the specific criteria for partial hospitalization for bipolar disorder include:
  • Severity of symptoms: PHP is often recommended for people with moderate to severe symptoms that don’t need full hospitalization but are too intense for standard outpatient care.
  • Risk assessment: A lower risk of harm to self or others compared to those needing inpatient care.
  • Stability: PHP candidates should be stable enough to take part in the program and benefit from a less restrictive environment.
  • Assessment by professionals: Psychiatric evaluations, including a review of medical history, symptom assessment, and treatment history.
  • Diagnosis and severity assessment: Involves comprehensive clinical interviews, psychological testing, medical evaluations, and a review of treatment history. This is used to determine the appropriateness and intensity of the program for the person’s specific needs.

Structure and Components of Partial Hospitalization for Bipolar Disorder

The structure and components of partial hospitalization for bipolar disorder are designed to provide a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach to treatment.
It encompasses:
  • Therapeutic sessions: Group therapy, individual therapy, and family therapy sessions.
  • Psychoeducation: Education about bipolar disorder, symptom management, and coping strategies.
  • Medication management: Regular meetings with psychiatrists for medication adjustments and monitoring.
  • Skill building: Focus on coping skills, stress management, and relapse prevention.
  • Routine and Structure: Daily schedules that mimic a workday, helping in the transition to everyday life.
  • Support services: Access to social workers, occupational therapists, and other professionals.
  • Peer support: Interaction with others facing similar challenges.

Therapeutic Modalities Offered in Partial Hospitalization for Bipolar Disorder

In partial hospitalization for bipolar disorder, a variety of therapeutic modalities and techniques are used to address the complex needs of people with this condition. These include:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT for bipolar disorder is a type of psychotherapeutic treatment that helps patients understand the thoughts and feelings that influence behaviors. CBT is commonly used to treat a wide range of disorders, including bipolar disorder, and it involves efforts to change thinking patterns.
This therapy focuses on identifying negative or false beliefs and testing or restructuring them to address mood disorders effectively.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy originally developed to treat borderline personality disorder but has since been adapted for other conditions, including bipolar disorder.
It combines standard cognitive-behavioral techniques for emotion regulation and reality-testing with concepts of distress tolerance, acceptance, and mindful awareness largely derived from Buddhist meditative practice.

Key Elements of DBT

DBT particularly focuses on providing therapeutic skills in four key areas that can be beneficial in managing the intense emotional swings associated with bipolar disorder.:
  1.  Mindfulness
  2.  Distress tolerance
  3.  Emotion regulation
  4.  Interpersonal effectiveness

Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy (IPSRT)

IPSRT is a therapeutic approach specifically designed for the treatment of bipolar disorder, combining principles from interpersonal psychotherapy with behavioral techniques to manage daily rhythms.
It focuses on stabilizing sleep-wake cycles and daily routines to reduce mood swings, while also addressing interpersonal issues that may contribute to the disorder’s severity.

Family Therapy

Family therapy is a form of psychological counseling that involves family members in the treatment process. It aims to improve communication, address family dynamics, and provide support to the person with bipolar disorder, helping to manage symptoms and reduce the impact on family life.

Medication Management

Medication management for bipolar disorder involves the careful selection, dosing, and monitoring of pharmaceuticals to stabilize mood swings and manage symptoms.
It typically includes the use of mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and sometimes antidepressants, tailored to each individual’s needs and response to treatment.

Mindfulness and Stress Reduction Techniques

Mindfulness for bipolar disorder involves practices like meditation and focused awareness, aimed at helping individuals recognize and manage their thoughts and emotions without judgment.
Stress reduction techniques for bipolar disorder include:
  • Relaxation exercises
  • Deep breathing
  • Engaging in calming activities

Success Rates of Partial Hospitalization for Bipolar Disorder

The success rate of partial hospitalization for bipolar disorder varies based on several factors, including:2
  • The person’s specific condition
  • The severity of symptoms
  • Adherence to the program
  • The presence of co-occurring disorders
Partial hospitalization programs are considered effective for many people, especially as a step-down from inpatient care or as a step-up from traditional outpatient therapy when those are not sufficient.3

Key Benefits of Partial Hospitalization for Bipolar Disorder

Some of the key benefits of a PHP for bipolar disorder include:
  • Improved symptom management: A PHP often leads to better management of mood swings and other symptoms.
  • Increased stability: Participants may achieve more prolonged periods of stability.
  • Enhanced coping skills: Patients often learn effective strategies to cope with stress and triggers.
  • Reduced hospitalization rates: Partial hospitalization can reduce the need for inpatient hospitalizations.
  • Better medication compliance: Close monitoring and education improve medication adherence.

Long-Term Effectiveness

Partial hospitalization for bipolar disorder is effective in providing the skills and support needed to manage the disorder. But, bipolar disorder is a chronic condition that often needs ongoing management.
Long-term outcomes are best when the PHP is part of a comprehensive, ongoing treatment plan that includes continued therapy, medication management, and support.

Psychoeducation and Skill-Building in Partial Hospitalization for Bipolar Disorder

Psychoeducation and skill-building are crucial components of partial hospitalization programs for bipolar disorder. They play a significant role in enhancing participants’ ability to manage their condition independently. Here’s how:

Role of Psychoeducation in Partial Hospitalization for Bipolar Disorder

The role of psychoeducation in partial hospitalization for bipolar disorder is as follows:
  • Understanding the disorder: It helps people understand the nature of bipolar disorder, its symptoms, and the impact it has on their lives. This knowledge demystifies the condition and can reduce feelings of confusion or helplessness.
  • Recognizing triggers and symptoms: Participants learn to identify early warning signs and triggers of mood episodes. Early recognition enables timely intervention, potentially reducing the severity of manic or depressive episodes.
  • Treatment adherence: By understanding the importance of medication and therapy in managing bipolar disorder, participants are more likely to adhere to their treatment plans.
  • Developing a wellness plan: Psychoeducation helps create personalized wellness plans, which include strategies to maintain a stable mood and overall well-being.
  • Empowerment: Knowledge about their condition empowers people to actively take part in their treatment and make informed decisions about their care.

Role of Skill-Building in Partial Hospitalization for Bipolar Disorder

The role of skill-building sessions in a PHP for bipolar disorder includes:
  • Coping strategies: Skill-building sessions equip people with practical tools to cope with stress, manage emotions, and deal with the challenges of daily life while living with bipolar disorder.
  • Problem-solving skills: Participants learn to effectively tackle problems, reducing the stress and frustration that can worsen episodes.
  • Communication skills: Improved communication skills aid in expressing needs and concerns more effectively. This is crucial for building support networks and managing relationships.
  • Lifestyle management: Skills in areas like time management, sleep hygiene, and routine-building contribute to creating a stable environment that can help in stabilizing mood swings.
  • Relapse prevention: Participants learn to develop strategies to identify and manage the early signs of relapse. This is crucial for maintaining long-term stability.
By integrating psychoeducation and skill-building into a PHP, participants gain a deeper understanding of bipolar disorder and learn practical skills for managing their condition.
This combination empowers them to take an active role in their treatment and supports their journey toward an improved quality of life.

How a PHP Can Address Potential Comorbid Conditions Associated with Bipolar Disorder

Partial hospitalization for bipolar disorder addresses comorbid conditions, which are common in people with bipolar disorder.
Comorbidities may include:
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Substance use disorders
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Other mental health conditions
The treatment approach in a PHP adapts to these complex cases in several ways, including:

Multidisciplinary Team Approach

At the beginning of the program, a thorough assessment is conducted to identify all coexisting conditions alongside bipolar disorder. This may involve psychiatric evaluations, psychological testing, and medical examinations.
The treatment team collaborates to create an integrated treatment plan that addresses both bipolar disorder and comorbid conditions.
This team often includes:
  • Psychiatrists
  • Psychologists
  • Social workers
  • Other specialists

Customized Therapeutic Strategies

Specific therapy sessions may be dedicated to addressing symptoms and challenges of the comorbid conditions. For example, if a patient has a substance use disorder, they might participate in addiction counseling.

Techniques from cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and other modalities are used to tackle various aspects of comorbid conditions.
Medication regimens are carefully considered and adjusted to treat the symptoms of bipolar disorder as well as the comorbid conditions. This ensures that medications prescribed do not worsen either condition.

Holistic and Patient-Centered Care

Lifestyle modifications, such as exercise routines, dietary advice, and sleep hygiene, are often incorporated to improve health and well-being. This can positively impact comorbid conditions.4
Psychoeducation extends to teaching about comorbid conditions. It helps patients understand how these interact with bipolar disorder and what comprehensive management looks like.
Group sessions may include discussions or activities tailored to common comorbid conditions. They provide peer support and shared learning experiences.

Continuity of Care

If patients are already receiving treatment for comorbid conditions from external specialists, a PHP often collaborates with these providers to ensure cohesive care.
Discharge planning includes considerations for the ongoing management of comorbid conditions, such as referrals to specialized care or community resources. Continued support or outpatient services might be arranged to maintain stability and manage comorbidities post-PHP.
By addressing comorbid conditions in a comprehensive, multidisciplinary manner, a PHP enhances the effectiveness of treatment and improves outcomes for people with complex cases. The adaptability of a PHP to the unique needs of each patient is a key strength of this treatment modality.
Partial Hospitalization for Bipolar Disorder

Partial Hospitalization for Bipolar Disorder at Continuum

At Continuum Outpatient Center, our partial hospitalization program is uniquely positioned to support people with bipolar disorder. Our program stands out as a beacon of hope for San Antonio locals and visitors alike.
We have tailored our services to meet the diverse needs of our community, including offering specialized care for adolescents, a demographic often underserved in our area.

Our Team

Our counselors are highly qualified, holding master’s level qualifications and are trauma-informed. This expertise ensures that we’re not just addressing the symptoms of bipolar disorder but also the underlying trauma that might be contributing to the mental health challenges our clients face.
In managing mental health, we believe in a holistic approach, considering all aspects of a person’s experience.

What We Offer

In addition to our PHP, we offer a range of programs including mental health intensive outpatient program and substance abuse IOP. This variety allows us to provide a continuum of care that can be tailored to each person’s needs.

Our approach is particularly beneficial in cases of dual diagnosis, where someone might be dealing with both mental health issues and substance abuse. We understand that these challenges often intersect and need a nuanced treatment approach.

Client-Centered Care

We pride ourselves on being client-centered and clinically driven. Rather than focusing solely on the 12-Step model, which can be effective for many, we recognize that each person’s journey is unique. Our emphasis is on understanding and treating the whole person, not just their symptoms.
This perspective allows us to create more personalized and effective treatment plans that address both mental health and any co-occurring substance use disorders.

Contact Continuum Outpatient Center Today

Our commitment at Continuum Outpatient Center is to provide comprehensive, compassionate care that empowers our clients to manage their bipolar disorder and move toward long-term stability and well-being. We are dedicated to being a supportive and guiding force in their journey to recovery.

Reach out to us today to learn more about the benefits of partial hospitalization for bipolar disorder. We’re here to help you find a personalized, sustainable path for healing and recovery.

Questions About Treatment?
Reach out to our knowledgeable and compassionate Continuum Outpatient Center team for the guidance and support you need for sustainable recovery. We’re here to help you build a foundation for long-term happiness, wellness, and healing.