What Is the Difference Between Outpatient and Intensive Outpatient?

Outpatient care, also called day surgery, refers to short-term medical treatment that’s provided in a hospital or clinic during off-hours. Patients typically leave the hospital the following day. In contrast, intensive outpatient refers to the ongoing care patients receive at home and in outpatient clinics.

An example of an intensive outpatient program is one that specializes in addiction treatment and consists of twelve hours of clinical services each week and twelve hours of continuing care each month with family members or other caregivers. In this post, we will discuss the differences between outpatient and intensive outpatient.

Differences Between Outpatient and Intensive Outpatient

Intensive outpatient care can be seen in a day clinic, where clients attend a clinical day every week, as well as in clinics that offer 6-12 hours at a time. In outpatient clinics, clients can receive care from several providers on their schedule on a regular basis.

Intensive outpatient programs usually offer open sessions that occur in a group setting during business hours. Individual and family sessions are conducted by appointment only at these programs during regular work hours. In contrast, clinics that provide outpatient treatment have open sessions from morning to evening and have scheduled appointments during daytime or early evenings.

Clinics that provide comprehensive addiction health care typically offer detoxification services in an intensive or semi-intensive setting. In contrast, most outpatient services do not provide detoxification but specialize in the treatment of mental or behavioral disorders that can also be treated with addictions counseling.

Intensive outpatient programs have a minimum level of supervision during the clinical day. This means that clinicians are always present to make sure that clients are safe, as well as to monitor their progress and keep them engaged in treatment. In contrast, outpatient clinics often pay clinicians to provide this service and recommend that clients come in for follow-up appointments and refer them for further treatment if needed. Clinics that provide treatment services at a lower level of intensity also follow up with patients, provide treatment information and guidance, and recommend extended care (e.g., 12 months or longer) if needed.

Many intensive outpatient programs use a 12 step philosophy to guide the clinical care in their program. This means that clinicians emphasize using the principles of the fellowship during each session. Programs offer additional treatment when clients want to get involved in a 12 step group or other active recovery community organization (e.g., Narcotics Anonymous). In contrast, the outpatient care philosophy focuses on helping the patient understand their disorder and how to live a healthier and sober life.

Intensive outpatient programs may offer therapy services like individual or group psychotherapy or marriage counseling. In these settings, clinicians are required to use evidence-based protocols with treatment recommendations for each client. In contrast, outpatient clinics provide brief encounters that are based on the patient’s problem and condition (e.g., depression, anxiety, PTSD) in the way that is most helpful for their situation at that time.

Intensive outpatient programs usually provide ongoing care when the patient is in the program for one year or more and will retain lifestyle changes until this is achieved. In contrast, outpatient clinics rarely provide a follow-up program. The client may still be able to receive treatment from the outpatient clinics when attending an addiction treatment center. However, this is not the case in most outpatient programs.

Intensive outpatient programs routinely provide services according to each client’s specific needs and their stage in the recovery process. In contrast, most outpatient clinics do not have a set amount of time that they can spend with each patient, depending on the severity of the clients’ problem or relationship to this problem.

Intensive outpatient programs generally don’t keep clients for a year or more, even if they have achieved most of the goals that were set. In contrast, outpatient clinics follow up with patients for a period that is appropriate to the patient’s addiction health problem. As such, this means this follow-up care is not limited to six months or a year and may last longer based on the severity of the client’s problem and appropriate circumstances (e.g., meeting standards).

In conclusion, intensive outpatient programs that provide clinical care during the day every week can be a valuable part of the recovery process for many clients. When these programs are provided in an appropriate way, they can help clients achieve their professional, personal and social goals much more quickly.

If you are interested in learning more about addiction treatment, call the professionals to find out how they can help you find the right program today at 833-610-1174.

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