OP and IOP and PHP Oh My! Navigating Mental Health Types of Treatment

Thinking about going to therapy is daunting for anyone. Going to therapy is one of the most courageous things anyone can do. Revealing your inner most thoughts, feelings and experiences to someone you don't know, is so hard but is also extremely rewarding. If you are thinking about starting therapy, congratulate yourself for beginning your healing journey. The process to figure out how to navigate the mental health world is not easy and and there is a great demand for mental health professionals and services. We hope this blog offers some helpful information to get you going and educate you about what you might need. 

Thankfully, due to a law passed in 2008, insurance companies are required to provide similar benefits for mental health coverage as they do for medical benefits. This access to mental health treatment was a game changer and has allowed more people access to mental health treatment. COVID  and other factors have drastically changed the landscape of mental health treatment (We will dive into this in an upcoming blog.). Many therapists are no longer taking insurance and have only self-pay practices. There are still a good number of therapists in our area that are credentialed on insurance, however. Make sure you ask questions up front when seeking a therapist so you know your financial responsibility. 

It is your responsibility to know your insurance coverage, but of course many of us don't read the fine print, know exactly what our insurance covers and have many more important things to do with our time than read our insurance policy (Who writes those and are they okay?)!  Many agencies will check your benefits as a courtesy but if you don't know what your mental health coverage is, you could be in for a big financial surprise after you start therapy. For people self-paying for therapy, mental health providers legally must disclose their costs and what you might expect to pay. If they don't do that, don't go to that therapist or agency.

Most people have some idea about the practice of seeing a mental health therapist. Usually, this comes from a TV show or book about someone going to therapy and might involve lying on a couch. Thank you Tony Soprano for enlightening the world about therapy. This type of treatment is done on a regular and fairly frequent basis; once or every other week and while still considered a medical service is much more frequently attended than going to a general practitioner. In the industry, we call this type of service outpatient therapy (OP). Even though most therapists don't use the word patient as a general term any longer, we are still tied to a medical model using their general terminology. 

Most mental health clinicians are in an outpatient setting. Outpatient therapy can be in an agency, medical doctor's office or hospital affiliated. They also can be privately owned by licensed mental health clinicians and/or psychiatrists in a solo or group practice. This type of practice is commonly used for people who are functioning and stable but need assistance with mental health issues like anxiety, depression, grief or trauma or general life stressors. People meet regularly with their therapist for a period of time while working on these issues. Treatment episodes can be brief or long depending on the complexities of the issue and people can end a treatment episodes successfully and then decide to come back if needed or if another issue is causing difficulties. 

Within Sight is this type of practice. We are made up of Licensed Clinical Social Workers and Licensed Mental Health Professionals. We are privately owned by partners and Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Julie Bellamy and Caron Leader. We use the term psychotherapist to designate our work as this helps differentiate the various types of therapists out there. We serve a variety of clients starting at age 3, with different types of mental health, behavioral, and life development/situational issues in individual, couple, family and group sessions. Most see a variety of issues but most common issues we see are life situational problems, anxiety, depression, grief, relationship issues and trauma. 

Intensive Outpatient programs (IOP), as the name implies, are a more intensive type of treatment and meet for a few days a week for 4 hours over the course of several weeks and are usually hospital based. In our area there are a few of these programs that treat a mix of mental health and substance abuse issues typically together. This type of program might be for someone who is having increased trouble functioning at work, school and/or home and need more than 1 -2 hours of therapy a week. Usually, they have day and evening options to accommodate work schedules. 

Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP) is the next intensity level of care available. These programs meet Monday - Friday all day and provide group, individual and mental health programming to help people who aren't functioning well. They are typically hospital based and include medication management. This program is a good alternative for someone who does not need overnight care but who is not functioning at work, school or home. Meeting for several weeks allows people to get a lot of therapeutic care in a short period of time, stabilizing them so they can go back to IOP or outpatient work. 

Finally, there is inpatient treatment. This type of treatment is for people who are experiencing  suicidal ideation or intent, homicidal ideation or intent, gravely disabled due to mental health psychosis or substance abuse. This is the most intensive type of treatment and is a hospital based program that includes meeting with a psychiatrist or nurse practitioner for medication management, daily individual and group theory for stabilization. This includes staying at the facility overnight for around the clock care to ensure someone stays safe while they are experiencing very difficult mental health issues. 

Locally, we have three hospitals that offer these intensive types of programs described. Deaconess Cross Pointe and Ascension hospitals are both not-for-profit and Brentwood Meadows is a for-profit hospital. Not all of them offer programming for teens but this seems to change often so you should check if this type of service is needed. All offer evaluations after regular business hours through their emergency rooms. Outside of Evansville, you can find more specific types of treatment for particular disorders; substance abuse, eating disorders, trauma, etc. These are often at privately owned facilities but insurance might be accepted. These programs change often too, so a google search and reviews is the best way to find a placement right for you. 

Hopefully, this explanation of the types of treatment out there helps you navigate the mental health world a bit easier. When in doubt, give us a call at 812-402-8333. Even if we can't help you, we will point you in the right direction. Next blog, we take a hard dive into how to find the right therapist for you. The struggle is real. 

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or intent, homicidal thoughts or intent, there is help for you! Text 74741, dial 988 to talk to a crisis counselor or go to your nearest emergency room. 

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