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Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOT/IOP)


Traditional Outpatient Therapy/Treatment (OP)

Just as the treatment field has yet to settle on a commonly accepted name for itself (e.g., “substance abuse” versus “addiction” versus “substance use disorder” versus “chemical dependence”), there is also considerable confusion regarding what constitutes Intensive Outpatient Treatment and traditional outpatient treatment/therapy. Because use of the terms “intensive outpatient treatment” and “intensive outpatient program” (IOP) varies by region, at Solutions we use the term “IOP” referring to Intensive Outpatient Treatment and “OP” referring to outpatient therapy/counseling.

A very important distinction is that Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) are licensed as a facility by the state with a license number for the program/facility as well as each individual counselor possesses a current and valid state license. In outpatient programs (OP) individual therapists are licensed by the state but the program/facility as a whole is not licensed, therefore it is not considered an IOP. According to ASAM’s Patient Placement Criteria, IOP programs provide 9 or more hours of structured programming per week.

In addition to the above details, Substance Abuse Mental Health Administration (SAMSHA) TIP 47 states the following guidelines for IOP:

  • Contact hours per week: 6 to 30

  • Stages: Step-down and step-up stages of care that vary in intensity and duration

  • Duration: Minimum of 90 days followed by outpatient continuing care

  • Core Features and Services:

    • Program orientation and intake

    • Comprehensive biopsychosocial assessment

    • Individual treatment planning

    • Group counseling

    • Individual counseling

    • Family counseling

    • Psychoeducational programming

    • Case management

    • Integration of clients into mutual-help and community-based support groups

    • 24-hour crisis coverage.

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