What to Expect During the PHP Admission Process

Learn more about the PHP admission process and what to expect when pursuing this type of program in this comprehensive article.

What is a PHP?

A partial hospitalization program (PHP) offers an intensive level of care while allowing participants to live at home.

This program is designed for those who need more support than traditional outpatient therapy but don’t need the 24/7 supervision of a hospital setting. A PHP can be an important step toward recovery for people with mental health or substance use disorders (SUD).

PHP Admission Process

How the PHP Admission Process Works

The PHP admission process begins with an initial inquiry, where the patient or a loved one expresses interest in the program. The facility will then conduct a pre-admission screening to determine if a PHP is appropriate and if they have the necessary resources to take part in the program.

During this initial contact, patients will receive information about the program, its structure, and how it can address their specific mental health needs. The process is designed to be supportive and informative, ensuring that participants feel comfortable and informed every step of the way.

Key Differences Between the Inpatient and PHP Admission Process

The PHP admission process differs from inpatient and outpatient admissions in several key ways, including:

  • Intensity of care: Unlike inpatient care, a PHP does not require an overnight stay. Because of this, the PHP admission process is less about preparing for a residential stay and more about integrating the program into daily life.
  • Level of supervision: While inpatient admissions involve preparing for a high level of supervision and structure, the PHP admission process considers a person’s ability to manage more independence, as they will return home each day after treatment.
  • Frequency of treatment: In a PHP, patients attend structured treatment sessions at the facility for several hours each day, often five days a week. The PHP admission process takes into account their availability and ability to commit to this level of treatment frequency.
  • Transition planning: Compared to outpatient admissions, the PHP admission process involves a more gradual transition from full-time treatment to independent living. This may include creating a plan for continued care and support after completing the program.

What to Expect During the PHP Admission Process

The PHP admission process can be intimidating and overwhelming, but it’s a necessary step toward getting treatment. Here’s an overview of what to expect during the PHP admission process:


First and foremost, patient privacy will always be respected throughout the admission process. All information shared with the admissions counselor will be kept confidential and used only for the person’s treatment plan.


It’s important to be honest during the intake session. Healthcare providers are here to help, not to judge you, and talking to them should be a safe space.

During the intake session, it’s important to disclose any:

  • Past or current substance abuse
  • Mental health diagnoses
  • Current medications

This information will help the treatment team create an individualized treatment plan that best fits the patient’s needs.

Support from Loved Ones

Patients are welcome to bring a family member or trusted friend to the intake session. Their support can be helpful in providing additional information and offering emotional support during this process.

Questions and Concerns

During the intake session, patients are encouraged to ask any questions or express any concerns they may have about the program. It’s important to understand what to expect during treatment and address any worries beforehand.


Be prepared to fill out some paperwork during the admission process. This may include insurance information, consent forms, and medical history documents.

A Step-by-Step Guide to the PHP Admission Process

The PHP admission process has a series of steps, each with its own purpose and goal. The following is a general guide to the steps a person may go through during the PHP admission process:

Eligibility Requirements

Before beginning the PHP admission process, patients must make sure they meet the eligibility requirements set by their chosen treatment facility.

Some general criteria include:

  • A diagnosis of a mental health disorder or substance use disorder
  • A recommendation from a healthcare professional
  • The ability to attend treatment sessions
  • The willingness and motivation to take part in treatment

Evaluating Appropriateness and Readiness

After the initial contact, a pre-assessment screening is conducted. This may involve a brief interview or questionnaire to gauge the severity of symptoms and determine if a PHP might be the right level of care.

While a PHP can treat a range of conditions, they may not be suitable for those with severe conditions. “Red flag” symptoms may include:1
  • Suicidal thoughts or self-harm behaviors
  • Become easily agitated or aggressive
  • Struggle with intense and persistent hallucinations, delusions, or paranoia
  • Sleep disturbances or severe appetite changes
  • Loss of insight and impaired judgment

Professionals will identify the person’s specific mental health needs and how they can be effectively addressed in the PHP setting. Other factors like how much structure and support is needed, the current living situation, and any co-occurring disorders will also be taken into account.

Comprehensive Assessments and Evaluations

If a person is deemed eligible for the program, the PHP admission process will involve comprehensive assessments and evaluations. This is to gather a thorough understanding of their mental health history, current symptoms, and treatment needs.

Mental Health Evaluation

This is a deep and detailed exploration of a person’s mental health to understand the nuances of their experience, how their symptoms manifest and impact their life, and reviewing their journey through previous treatments.

The methods used for this evaluation may include:2
  • Interviews with the patient and possibly family or loved ones
  • Psychological tests for a better understanding of symptoms, personality traits, and emotional functioning
  • Observation of behavior in different situations

Medical Evaluation

Physical health is just as important as mental health. This step ensures there are no underlying medical conditions that could influence mental health or interact adversely with potential treatments.

Patients can expect to undergo:3
  • A thorough physical examination
  • Laboratory tests, including blood and urine samples
  • Review of medical history and any current medications

Risk Assessment

Here, the focus shifts to safety – both the patient and those around them. Treatment teams will evaluate any potential risk factors, such as self-harm or harm to others, and develop a plan to manage them.

This includes:

  1. Assessment of the person’s current mental health and any associated risks
  2. Discussion of potential warning signs for a crisis or relapse, as well as ways to cope with these situations
  3. Development of a safety plan in case of an emergency

Psychosocial Assessment

In this step, the focus is on social and emotional well-being. Patients will be asked about their relationships, support systems, and any stressors or traumas that may have contributed to their current mental health state.

The purpose of this assessment is to:

  • Understand their social and environmental context
  • Identify any potential barriers or challenges to treatment
  • Explore underlying emotions and thought patterns that could be contributing to their current state

Diagnostic Evaluation

Even if a patient’s already received a preliminary diagnosis, a thorough diagnostic evaluation is necessary to confirm and/or revise it.

This process may involve:4
  • Use of specific criteria to determine a diagnosis according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)
  • Collaboration with other professionals, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, for further evaluation

The Treatment Team's Role in the PHP Admission Process

When beginning the PHP admission process, patients are joining a team dedicated to their well-being. The core of this team often includes physicians, therapists, and nurses, all specialized in addiction and mental health treatment. These professionals are partners in the journey toward recovery.

Collaborative Decision-Making

A key aspect of the PHP admission process is collaborative decision-making. This means that a patient’s views, preferences, and experiences are integral to developing their treatment plan.

The team will work with the patient to understand their specific needs, challenges, and goals. This approach ensures that the treatment plan is not only medically sound but also personally resonant and practical for their life.

Active participation in this process is crucial, as it helps to create a sense of ownership and engagement with the recovery journey.

Clinical and Therapeutic Perspectives

The treatment team brings a range of clinical and therapeutic perspectives to the table. This diversity of experience allows for a comprehensive understanding of the person’s condition and provides a variety of approaches to address it.

The treatment plan may include:

The team will regularly review and adjust the plan based on patient progress and needs, ensuring that they receive the best possible care throughout their time in the program.

Support and Empathy

The treatment team understands that seeking help for mental health and addiction can be a challenging and vulnerable process. They are here to provide support and empathy every step of the way.

You can expect a non-judgmental environment where your concerns are heard, and your experiences are validated. The team is committed to creating a safe and inclusive space for you to share your thoughts and feelings.

Referral Mechanisms in the PHP Admission Process

The PHP admission process includes options for both self-referral and family referral. These mechanisms empower patients and their loved ones to seek appropriate care by providing accessible avenues to begin the treatment journey.

Below is a look at how these mechanisms work:


Self-referral allows people to recognize their need for help and take the first step toward recovery. It gives them a sense of control and autonomy in their treatment journey.

Family Referral

Family referral acknowledges the importance of support systems in recovery. It allows family members to play an active role in their loved one’s treatment and fosters a sense of collaboration and understanding between the patient and their family.

Both self-referral and family referral can reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and addiction treatment, as they empower people to seek help without feeling ashamed or judged. These mechanisms also facilitate early intervention, which can lead to better treatment outcomes.5

Informed Consent and Participant Education

The significance of informed consent in the PHP admission process cannot be overstated. It respects a patient’s autonomy and right to make decisions about their healthcare. This process ensures that their participation in the program is voluntary and based on a clear understanding of what to expect.

Informed consent is not just a one-time event but an ongoing process throughout treatment, as the patient should be kept informed and involved in all decisions regarding their care.

Educating Participants on PHP Expectations

Educating participants about what to expect during the PHP. This involves explaining:

  • The typical daily schedule
  • The types of therapies and activities involved
  • The program’s duration
  • The treatment goals

Patients will also be informed about the rules and policies of the PHP, their rights as a participant, and the support services available to them. This education is crucial in setting realistic expectations and preparing people for a successful treatment experience.

Financial and Insurance Considerations

The cost of a PHP can vary depending on the location, the length of the program, the types of therapies offered, and the facility itself. Participants need to be aware of these costs upfront.

It is best to ask about payments and insurance coverage before starting the PHP program. Patients can contact the facility’s billing department to ask about their fees and any available payment plans or financial assistance options.

Covering the Cost of a PHP

Some strategies to help cover the cost of a PHP may include:

  • Using insurance benefits: Many insurance plans cover all or a portion of the cost of PHP treatment. Patients should contact their insurance provider to understand their coverage and any out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Seeking financial help: Some facilities offer sliding scale fees or financial assistance for those who qualify. Patients can also explore government-funded programs or non-profit organizations that may provide funding for mental health treatment.
  • Utilizing a health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA): If a patient has these types of accounts, they can use the funds to pay for PHP treatment.
  • Asking for help from loved ones: If family or friends are willing and able to provide financial support, it can be helpful in covering the cost of a PHP.
  • Finding alternative payment options: Some facilities may offer options such as a payment plan or financing to help spread out the cost of treatment.

Talking to Insurance Providers

In addition to considering payment options, it’s also important to review insurance coverage with insurance providers.

Some key questions to ask include:

  • Does my insurance plan cover PHP treatment? If so, what is the coverage and any limitations or restrictions?
  • Are there specific facilities or providers within my insurance network that offer PHP treatment?
  • Do I need a referral from a primary care physician or mental health specialist for PHP treatment to be covered?
  • Are there any preauthorization requirements for PHP treatment? If so, how do I get preauthorization?
  • Are there any out-of-pocket expenses associated with PHP treatment, such as copayments or deductibles?

Transition to Active PHP Participation

Upon completing the PHP admission process, the focus shifts to integrating the patient into the program.

What to Expect

Initially, they will participate in an orientation session, where they’ll receive detailed information about the program schedule, treatment modalities, and program rules. This orientation aims to provide them with a clear understanding of what daily life in the PHP will entail.

Throughout the program, participants have access to a variety of therapeutic activities and interventions designed to support the recovery journey. These may include behavioral therapy techniques, mindfulness practices, art therapy, and more.

They will also have opportunities for recreation and socialization with peers in the program during designated breaks or group outings.

Support Systems During Transition

Participants may experience a range of emotions as they adjust to the program and adapt to new routines and expectations. This can be challenging, and programs ensure they have access to the resources and support needed for success.

The treatment team will regularly check in to monitor progress, address any concerns or issues, and make necessary adjustments to the treatment plan.

Peer support groups, which are often part of a PHP, provide an opportunity to connect with others who are undergoing similar experiences. These groups can be a source of comfort and encouragement while adjusting to the program.

How Continuum Can Help

Choosing Continuum Outpatient Center’s PHP means choosing quality and comprehensive care for your mental health needs. Our San Antonio, Texas, team is dedicated to providing evidence-based treatments, personalized care, and a safe and supportive environment for our clients.

Our programs are also designed to promote long-term recovery and equip our clients with the skills and tools needed to maintain their mental wellness beyond treatment.

How Our Admission Process Works

The PHP admission process at Continuum is designed to be as smooth and stress-free as possible.

It starts with an initial consultation, where we discuss your specific needs and concerns. This is followed by a comprehensive assessment to understand your mental health history and current challenges.

Based on this assessment, we develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to your unique situation. We also guide you through the financial and insurance aspects, ensuring you have a clear understanding of the options available to you.

We aim to make the admission process a seamless gateway to your recovery journey.

Contact Continuum Outpatient Center Today

If you’re considering PHP treatment, our team is ready to answer any questions you may have and provide more information about our programs and services. At Continuum, we’re more than just a treatment facility – we’re your partners in recovery.

Reach out to us today for more information.

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.