PHP vs IOP: What level of care is right for me?

By Blake Song M.A.

When I first started working in mental healthcare, I was honestly so confused at some of the terminology used around the clinic. PHP and IOP were two abbreviations that almost always came up. I actually had to google search them a few times early on to keep up with conversations. So as a passionate educator and mental health advocate, I’d like to take a moment to share very simple explanations of the two terms.

IOP stands for “intensive outpatient program”.  This is an approach that’s generally a good fit for individuals who are experiencing a MILD to MODERATE degree of impairment or addiction. Clients at the IOP level attend a few hours of treatment each day and return home in the evening. It’s quite practical for individuals who are busy with work, have been to treatment before, and have a healthy support system in place outside of treatment. 

PHP stands for “partial hospitalization program”. PHP is a step up from IOP. It requires a bit more time and commitment, and it’s great for anyone dealing with MODERATE to SEVERE addictions or impairments. Similar to IOP, a person in this level of care still returns home in the evenings, but they are attending more sessions during the day and receive a higher degree of support. This is generally a great approach for folks who are just starting treatment and looking to build healthier habits, those who are at a higher risk of relapse, and also it can also be an effective “step down” for people leaving residential treatment centers. 

When it comes to choosing the right rehab approach, it is always helpful to speak with a clinically trained professional. These helpful resources can offer confidential, compassionate guidance and provide free evidence-based consultations, both which really help you navigate through challenging times. If you’re seeking more information or clarity on what’s the best “next step” for you or a loved one, I encourage you to reach out to a local mental healthcare provider today to discuss.


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