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What is a Partial Hospitalization Program?

Learn more about the benefits of a partial hospitalization program and how Continuum Outpatient Center can help.

Introduction to Partial Hospitalization Program

A partial hospitalization program (PHP) is a structured, short-term, intensive outpatient mental health treatment program. It’s designed for people who need more support than traditional outpatient therapy but not the 24-hour care provided in an inpatient or residential setting.

A PHP is often used as an alternative to inpatient psychiatric hospitalization. It can also be used for those struggling with the symptoms of a substance use disorder (SUD).1
partial hospitalization program

Goals of a Partial Hospitalization Program

The goals of a partial hospitalization program are to:
  1.  Stabilize people in crisis
  2.  Address acute symptoms of mental health or substance use disorders
  3.  Provide the skills and support needed to transition to a less intensive level of care
  4.  Reduce relapse
Depending on the person’s symptoms, background, and current mental state, these programs may vary in length and intensity. Our partial hospitalization program at Continuum Outpatient Care will be catered to each patient’s needs to ensure holistic healing.

Conditions Treated in a Partial Hospitalization Program

A PHP can be beneficial for people struggling with mental health or substance use disorder symptoms. Since a PHP isn’t as intensive as inpatient care, there’s often less stigma attached to these programs.
Since almost 55% of people with mental illnesses and 94% of people with substance use disorders don’t get the treatment they need, a PHP can help bridge this gap to provide added care without the added strain of fear or stigma.2
The conditions that a partial hospitalization program can help treat include:

Mood Disorders

Those with mood disorders, such as major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder, can benefit from the treatment plan that a PHP provides.
A partial hospitalization program provides a structured environment for people experiencing severe mood disturbances. Intensive therapy and medication management are often crucial for stabilizing mood and managing symptoms.

What is an Example of a Mood Disorder? What Does it Entail?

Anxiety Disorders

The structured nature of a partial hospitalization program helps people with anxiety disorders by providing a supportive and therapeutic environment to address the underlying causes of anxiety. Group therapy and coping skills training can also be particularly beneficial.

Anxiety disorders, when not severe, often see improvement when treated at a lower-level type of care such as a PHP. These programs provide the clinical support people need while still allowing them to return home to family, work, or social responsibilities.

What is an Anxiety Disorder?: A Closer Look

Eating Disorders

A partial hospitalization program offers a comprehensive approach to address the complex issues associated with eating disorders.

This includes:
  • Medical monitoring
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Individual therapy
Many programs also provide support for people struggling with body image and disordered eating behaviors. Eating disorders may also be co-occurring with conditions like depression, anxiety, and trauma, meaning the intensive care at a PHP is beneficial.

What is an Eating Disorder?: A Closer Look

Personality Disorders

Those with personality disorders can benefit from a consistent and structured therapeutic environment of a partial hospitalization program.
These programs help people to:
  • Develop coping strategies
  • Regulate emotions
  • Improve interpersonal relationships

Psychotic Disorders

A PHP offers a continuum of care for people with psychotic disorders. These programs provide:
  • Medication management
  • Therapy
  • Additional support to enhance daily functioning and reduce the risk of hospitalization

Adjustment Disorders

Those facing significant life changes or stressors may find a PHP helpful for stabilizing their mental health and developing coping strategies.
The structured nature of these programs can provide a sense of routine and support during challenging times. These life changes may include changing jobs, losing a loved one, or undergoing a traumatic event.

Co-Occurring Disorders

A PHP is also beneficial in addressing both mental health and substance use issues at the same tim. Integrated treatment approaches help people understand the interplay between mental health and substance use, supporting a more holistic recovery.
These programs also work well for those with more than one mental health condition, such as someone struggling with both anxiety and bipolar disorder. The integrated approach allows for comprehensive assessment and treatment planning to address the complexity of co-occurring disorders.

Behavioral Issues

A PHP can provide behavioral interventions and support for people with disruptive behavior disorders, such as oppositional defiant disorder. These programs help them develop more adaptive coping skills and improve their social and interpersonal functioning.
In general, a partial hospitalization program is beneficial for people with these disorders because it offers a higher level of care and support than traditional outpatient services. It also allows them to maintain connections with their communities and support systems.

Therapeutic Techniques Used in a Partial Hospitalization Program

Depending on the facility and each person’s needs, the therapy practices used for each patient will vary.
However, there are some common types of therapy techniques used in these programs, such as:3

Individual Therapy

In these one-on-one sessions, patients can explore their unique needs, challenges, and strengths. The depth of the sessions allows for an exploration of personal issues, facilitating a deeper understanding of the factors contributing to mental health symptoms.
Through individual therapy, participants collaboratively set therapeutic goals, monitor progress, and receive crisis intervention. Therapists tailor interventions to address specific needs, such as trauma or interpersonal relationships.
Individual therapy also teaches and reinforces coping skills and complements group and family therapy by addressing more private or sensitive issues. As patients progress, therapy sessions help prepare them for the transition back to less intensive levels of care or into the community.

Group Therapy

Group therapy offers a supportive environment where they can connect with others facing similar challenges. This shared experience fosters a sense of belonging and reduces feelings of isolation.
The group setting normalizes people’s experiences, helping them realize that they’re not alone in their struggles. Group therapy has been shown to be just as effective as individual therapy, even though group therapy only makes up 5% of treatment at many centers.4
Our team at Continuum Outpatient Care recognizes the importance and support that group therapy can provide. Our PHP programs utilize group therapy to help people learn and practice coping skills and strategies for managing symptoms.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT helps people become aware of negative thought patterns and guides them in restructuring these thoughts for more balanced thinking. The therapy encourages them to engage in positive activities even when motivation is low.
CBT is particularly effective in managing symptoms of anxiety and depression by challenging negative thought patterns associated with these conditions. Moreover, CBT supports patients in preventing relapse by providing tools to recognize early signs and intervene proactively.
In a partial hospitalization program, CBT is often delivered through individual and group therapy sessions, offering both personalized exploration and shared learning experiences.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

By focusing on emotional regulation, DBT help people recognize and manage intense emotions. This reduces impulsive behaviors and promotes emotional stability. DBT also provides strategies for coping with challenging situations without resorting to harmful behaviors.
What makes DBT especially suited for a partial hospitalization program is its comprehensive approach. It addresses various aspects of both mental health struggles and substance use disorders. DBT encourages patients to accept themselves while working towards positive behavioral changes.

Mindfulness-Based Practices

Mindfulness-based therapies are highly useful in a partial hospitalization program for several reasons:
  • Stress reduction: Practices such as meditation and deep-breathing exercises are effective in reducing stress levels. People in a PHP often face various stressors, and mindfulness helps cultivate awareness that can reduce the impact of stress on mental health.
  • Increased self-awareness: Mindfulness practices enhance self-awareness by directing attention to the present moment. This heightened awareness allows people to better understand their thoughts and feelings.
  • Improved concentration and focus: People in a PHP may experience difficulties with concentration. Mindfulness practices can improve concentration and enhance cognitive focus.
  • Coping with symptoms: Mindfulness-based therapies teach people to approach their mental health with a sense of acceptance and non-judgment. This attitude can contribute to a more adaptive response to symptoms.
  • Mind-body connection: Engaging in mindfulness practices promotes physical relaxation. This can be particularly beneficial for people experiencing physical manifestations of mental health struggles, such as tension or fatigue.

Holistic Approaches

Holistic therapies focus on treating the whole person—mind, body, and spirit. In a partial hospitalization program, these therapies are often integrated to provide a comprehensive approach to mental health treatment.
Some holistic therapies used in our PHP at Continuum Outpatient Care include:
  • Yoga: Yoga combines physical postures, breath control, and meditation. It’s been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other disorders.5
  • Music therapy: Music therapy involves using music to address emotional, cognitive, and social needs. It includes activities such as listening to music, creating music, or using musical expression to explore emotions.
  • Nutritional counseling and support: Holistic approaches may include recommendations for dietary changes to support mental health. Nutrition plays a crucial role in well-being and can impact mood and energy levels.
  • Meditation: Practices involving meditation and guided imagery can help people relax, reduce stress, and explore their inner thoughts and emotions in a guided and intentional manner.
These holistic therapies are often used alongside traditional therapeutic modalities to promote a comprehensive approach to mental health and well-being.

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy provides people with an exploration of unconscious processes and a comprehensive understanding of the roots of their mental health challenges. By encouraging the processing of emotions, psychodynamic therapy supports emotional regulation and resilience.
Psychodynamic therapy is oriented toward long-term changes It complements other therapeutic modalities within a PHP, addressing underlying factors contributing to mental health challenges. It fosters self-reflection and a clearer understanding of personal values and goals.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

MAT can be integrated into a partial hospitalization program to help people manage mental health and substance use disorders.
In a PHP, MAT often involves the prescription of medications in combination with therapeutic interventions, to address specific symptoms and promote stability. Medications work to help people better engage in the therapeutic process.
The use of MAT in a PHP is carefully monitored and adjusted by healthcare professionals based on individual responses and treatment goals. This combined approach aims to provide a comprehensive and tailored strategy for those in a PHP, promoting treatment progress.

Trauma-Informed Therapy

It’s been reported that 90% of people undergoing any type of psychiatric care have been exposed to trauma. Integrating trauma-informed care into a partial hospitalization program is imperative for holistic healing.6

Trauma-informed therapy helps clinicians and participants identify trauma triggers and responses. It also introduces coping skills to manage overwhelming emotions and addresses dissociation, promoting a more connected sense of self.

Customized treatment plans at Continuum Outpatient Care are tailored to individual experiences to ensure the partial hospitalization program is attuned to the unique needs of each patient.

How Trauma-Informed Care Differs from Traditional Treatment

Trauma-informed care/therapy differs from traditional treatment approaches in several key ways, emphasizing sensitivity to the impact of trauma on individuals and recognizing the importance of creating a safe and supportive environment.

Here are just some some key differences:

  • Understanding of Trauma: Traditional treatment might not explicitly address or recognize the role of trauma in a person’s life and subsequent challenges. Trauma-informed care prioritizes understanding the prevalence and impact of trauma, acknowledging that it can affect various aspects of an individual’s well-being.
  • Emphasis on Safety: Traditional treatment focuses primarily on symptom reduction or behavior change. On the other hand, trauma-informed therapy prioritizes creating a safe and supportive therapeutic environment to help clients feel secure and respected, enabling room for growth and change.
  • Empowerment and Collaboration: Traditional counseling often has a more authoritative approach with the therapist taking the lead. Trauma-informed therapy encourages collaboration and empowers individuals in the decision-making process, respecting their autonomy and choices.
  • Avoidance of Re-traumatization: Traditional treatment may inadvertently trigger or re-traumatize individuals due to a lack of awareness about potential triggers. However, trauma-informed therapy actively works to avoid re-traumatization by incorporating strategies to minimize triggers and ensuring a gradual and consensual approach to addressing traumatic experiences.
  • Holistic Perspective: Traditional therapy might focus narrowly on specific symptoms or issues. Trauma-informed therapy takes a holistic approach, considering the broader context of an individual’s life, relationships, and experiences.

How Do You Know if a PHP is Right for You?

Determining if a partial hospitalization program is the right fit for you involves considering several factors related to your mental health needs, treatment goals, and the level of support needed.
Here are some indicators that a PHP may be suitable:

Severity of Symptoms

If your mental health symptoms are significant and impact your daily functioning but don’t need 24-hour supervision, a PHP may be appropriate.

Recent Hospitalization or Crisis

If you’ve recently been discharged from inpatient care or have experienced a mental health crisis, a PHP can provide continued support to prevent relapse.

Need for Structured Treatment

If you need a structured and therapeutic environment to address acute symptoms and stabilize your mental health, a PHP can offer the necessary structure and intensity.

Ability to Live at Home

If you can safely live at home and have a supportive environment, a PHP allows you to receive intensive treatment while maintaining connections with your family and community.

Commitment to Treatment

If you’re committed to actively taking part in therapy, a PHP isan effective option for those who are motivated to engage in their treatment.

Professional and Family Support

If you have a supportive network of family, friends, and professionals who can collaborate with the PHP team, this support can enhance the effectiveness of the treatment.

Determining Levels of Care

It’s important to consult with mental health professionals to assess your unique situation and determine whether a PHP is the right fit for your current mental health needs and goals. The decision should be made collaboratively with your treatment team.

How Often Does a Partial Hospitalization Program Meet?

The frequency of PHP meetings varies depending on the specific program and the person’s treatment needs. But, most programs often involve intensive treatment and may meet several days a week, often five days a week.
Some common structures for PHP schedules include:
  • Full-day programs: Patients may attend full-day programs, often lasting six hours or more each day. This comprehensive schedule allows for a range of therapeutic activities, including individual therapy, group therapy, and skill-building sessions.
  • Weekday attendance: Most programs often operate on weekdays, mirroring a typical work week. This schedule allows patients to receive intensive treatment during the day and return home in the evenings.
  • Variable intensity: Some programs may offer variable intensity options. This allows for adjustments in the number of days attended per week based on the person’s progress and needs.

How Often Does Our PHP at Continuum Outpatient Care Meet?

The specific structure and intensity of a PHP are determined based on:
  • The severity of the person’s mental health symptoms
  • The goals of treatment
  • The recommendations of our treatment team
Our San Antonio, Texas, based program at Continuum Outpatient Care is often set to last four weeks. It starts in the morning and ends mid-afternoon, with group therapy, individual sessions, and holistic activities occurring each week.
partial hospitalization program

How Continuum Outpatient Care and Our Partial Hospitalization Program Can Help

A partial hospitalization program can be the environment you or a loved one need in order to heal. Our program at Continuum Outpatient Care prioritizes your health and provides a safe, shame-free program where you can build new life skills and stay on the path to recovery.
Our partial hospitalization program can be used to bridge the gap between more intensive levels of mental healthcare. We also provide assistance and care for those struggling with substance use disorders. A PHP helps people in both scenarios stay connected to their healing journey.

Get in Touch With Our Compassionate Team Today

If you or a loved one are ready to get the support and care you deserve, reach out to us at Continuum Outpatient Care today. We will work with you to create an individualized treatment program that addresses all of your needs and concerns.

We are committed to extraordinary client care to ensure you’re getting the top-tier treatment you need. We’ll be here with you every step of the way throughout 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.