Which Outpatient Program Is Right For You?

In waiting room, thoughtful young woman looks out window.

Mental health services are not a one-size-fits-all solution. There are different types of programs, therapeutic modalities and techniques that go into an individual’s treatment plan. 

As a result, mental health outpatient programs differ from person to person, and rarely does one person’s treatment plan look the same as someone else’s.

With this in mind, it may be intimidating and even overwhelming to know which outpatient program is the right choice for you.

That’s where Branches Arlington steps in. With over 20 years of experience in outpatient mental health services, we understand the importance of finding the right fit for your mental health needs. This guide will walk you through the most common types of programs, therapeutic modalities and treatment options available to those seeking mental health services.

What Is An Outpatient Program?

Mental health outpatient programs are a popular type of psychiatric treatment primarily treating those with mild to moderate mental health conditions. They are popular due to their flexibility, individualized care and positive mental health outcomes. 

Outpatient programs provide structured care but differ from inpatient programs in that they do not require patients to reside in a psychiatric treatment center during the duration of the program.

Common conditions treated in outpatient programs include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Trauma/PTSD
  • Grief
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Chemical dependency

Overall, the goal of outpatient programs is to give patients the tools they need to sustain healthy and improved lifestyles.

What Are the Two Types of Outpatient Programs? 

When considering an outpatient program, one of the first questions you’ll likely face is what kind of treatment program is the best fit for you.

There are two types of outpatient programs: Intensive outpatient programs (IOP) and partial hospitalization programs (PHP).

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) are a structured form of behavioral health care involving a combination of different therapeutic practices, techniques and, if needed, medication management. IOPs typically help those who require extra assistance managing their mental health while not needing around-the-clock care. 

In IOPs, the frequency of sessions may vary. Participants typically meet 3-5 days per week for anywhere between 3-6 hours at a time. At Branches Arlington, participants in our intensive outpatient program meet Monday through Friday from 9:00 A.M. to 12:00 P.M. 

An intensive outpatient program may be recommended to someone who:

  • Requires extra assistance managing their mental health
  • Has recently completed a PHP program
  • Has gone through a sudden traumatic event
  • Exhibits mild mental illness symptoms

Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP) 

Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) are a step up from IOPs in terms of intensity, structure and frequency of sessions. PHPs also provide behavioral health care using a combination of different therapeutic techniques and modalities based on the patient’s needs.

Partial hospitalization is usually considered a short-term solution and an in-between step connection between inpatient programs to IOPs.

PHP sessions typically take place 5 times per week with sessions lasting 4-8 hours at a time. At Branches Arlington’s partial hospitalization program, for example, sessions occur Monday through Friday from 9:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M.

Partial hospitalization may be recommended  to someone who:

  • Has recently completed an inpatient program
  • Requires a more structured level of care than intensive outpatient programs can provide
  • Is exhibiting moderate mental illness symptoms

Outpatient Program Modalities

Whether you participate in a PHP or IOP, you’ll also need to understand the different types of therapeutic modalities that may be used in outpatient treatment. Common types of counseling include individual therapy, family therapy and group therapy.

Individual Therapy

Individual therapy is a one-on-one therapeutic modality involving the patient and licensed mental health professional. It is also commonly referred to as individual counseling, psychotherapy or talk therapy. 

We recommend individual therapy to those who may feel uncomfortable sharing personal thoughts and concerns in a group setting, as well as those in need of personal support. 

Family Therapy

Family therapy is a common modality of outpatient psychiatric treatment that involves not only the person struggling with their mental health but also their family members. Family therapy may involve spouses, significant others, children, parents, siblings or extended family. 

Unlike individual therapy, family therapy focuses on the familial unit as a whole. It recognizes that if one person in the family struggles, others may too.

At Branches Arlington, we encourage family members to take an active role in their loved one’s recovery.

Group Therapy

Finally, group therapy involves therapy sessions where a mental health professional leads a group of patients to target a specific issue. People in group therapy may be in different stages of recovery, thus providing additional layers of hope and support for healing.

Types of Outpatient Treatment Techniques

Whether you participate in individual therapy, family therapy or group therapy, your mental health care professional will lead the session employing different kinds of treatment techniques. Popular treatment options include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and medication management. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a popular psychotherapeutic technique. It teaches people to recognize negative thought patterns and respond to them in healthier ways.

Cognitive behavioral therapy benefits those who:

  • Are pessimistic about their condition/situation
  • Are affected by  low self-esteem 
  • Would like to build self-confidence
  • Need help to develop healthy coping mechanisms

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavior therapy is another form of talk therapy that initially evolved from cognitive behavioral therapy. DBT helps those who experience emotions more intensely. This may include those affected by conditions such as depression, borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, or people who have committed self-harm.

In outpatient settings, DBT helps patients both accept their reality and challenge their situation by learning new helpful behaviors. The objective of dialectical behavior therapy is to help people learn new skills to manage their emotions in a healthy way.

Dialectical behavior therapy benefits those who:

  • Struggle with their emotions
  • Want to improve their relationships
  • Want to learn coping mechanisms that will project them beyond their mental health issues

Medication Management

In medication management, a mental health professional prescribes, monitors and adjusts medical prescriptions with the goal of helping their patient alleviate and manage their mental health condition. Based on the patient’s reaction to the medication, the mental health professional may change the prescription or tweak the dosage to help their patient obtain optimal results.

Medication management is another common outpatient treatment technique and is usually used in conjunction with CBT and DBT.

Recovery Starts Here

Understanding the different components of an outpatient program may seem overwhelming, but we are here to help. 

Branches Arlington, formerly known as the Excel Center of Arlington, is an outpatient-only psychiatric treatment center for adults located in Arlington, Texas. Our assessment team works with you to figure out the problem at hand and what treatment approach is most beneficial to your individual circumstances.

Recovery starts here. Reach out to 817-404-2207 to get started on your path to a brighter tomorrow.

If you think you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, call 988 or get to the nearest emergency room.

For medical emergencies, call 911 or get to the nearest emergency room.