Partial Hospitalization Programs: What Do They Consist Of?

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Partial hospitalization programs, or PHPs, bridge the gap between inpatient care and outpatient therapy. These structured programs offer intensive treatment from a multi-disciplinary team daily in a hospital setting, without needing to stay overnight.

Who Is PHP Treatment For?

Partial hospitalization programs provide treatment for a diverse range of mental health conditions, behavioral issues, and dual diagnoses that require more intensive support than outpatient therapy alone but less than 24-hour inpatient hospitalization. Patients in PHPs may struggle with various moderate to severe diagnoses such as depression, suicidal thoughts or tendencies, PTSD, addiction disorders, eating disorders, bipolar disorder and other complex psychiatric conditions. These patients need daily structure and clinical intervention to manage challenging symptoms, impairing their ability to cope and function through daily personal obligations, work or school.

Engaging with a multi-disciplinary PHP treatment team during the day allows these individuals to apply their developing recovery skills in their home environment under supervision before fully transitioning care to once-weekly outpatient therapy visits. PHPs also help patients step down their care transitioning from inpatient hospital stays. Overall, the partial hospitalization program fills a therapeutic gap between these two levels of care to better meet patients’ intensity of needs.

The typical PHP patient comes seeking more support than a once-weekly counseling appointment but still has sufficient autonomy and lower safety risk factors that continuous inpatient hospitalization would provide. Participants require clinical oversight and hands-on management from psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, nurses, and social workers, collaborating closely each day to stabilize and improve mood disorders, gain perspective addressing relationship conflicts, establish addiction recovery skills to prevent relapse and learn healthy self-care to manage the symptoms of complex diagnoses. PHPs allow customized treatment plans catered to handle the nuanced combination of each patient’s mental health hurdles.

Program Duration & Schedule

The typical PHP schedule mimics a full-time job. Programs generally run eight hours daily, five days a week. The average PHP lasts two to four weeks depending on the facility and patient’s progress in meeting goals.

Most programs offer both morning and afternoon tracks to accommodate employment or schooling. Scheduling also provides programming all day for patients who need fuller support without other commitments.

What Does a Typical Day Look Like?

Most PHPs organize days with a consistent schedule of therapeutic modules plus breaks. Here’s an example daily lineup:

8:30–9:00: Check-in & Vitals Testing

Morning group therapy modules may cover:

– Coping skills- Emotional regulation  – Addiction education- Family dynamics processing

11:30: Lunch

Afternoon sessions often focus on:

– Movement therapy (yoga, art therapy)- Meditation practice    – Music therapy- Nutrition education- 12-step study

3:30: Checkout & wrap-up

Some facilities also integrate field trips, games, biofeedback, and neuro-based therapies. Patients return home each afternoon and evening.

Treatment Team Approach

One major advantage of partial hospitalization is access to a specialized interdisciplinary team for whole-person care. Core clinical staff include:

· Psychiatrists & therapists – Meet regularly for psych evaluations, med management, group, and individual counseling.

· Nurses – Administer meds, conduct health evaluations, and monitor withdrawal symptoms.

· Social workers – Guide discharge planning, case management, and counseling.

Adjunctive practitioners like dieticians, experiential therapists, and spiritual support are offered based on program specialties.

Aftercare Planning Is Key  

An essential focus of partial hospitalization is continuity of care after discharge. The treatment team creates customized aftercare plans for each patient covering:

· Follow-up outpatient counseling

· Medication & prescription plans

· Recommended support groups/12-step meetings

· Other transitional programs or intensive outpatient track

This comprehensive plan prevents loss of progress when patients resume normal life. It also reduces the risk of lapsing back into a crisis requiring rehospitalization. 

Partial hospitalization programs play a vital role along the mental healthcare continuum. The daily on-site structure removes obstacles to accessing effective treatment. At the same time, PHPs encourage autonomy as patients apply developing skills in real-world home settings. This therapeutic middle ground sustains healing momentum for some of the toughest behavioral health cases.

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