Apr 3, 2023

Exploring the Structure of a Partial Hospitalization Program

Partial Hospitalization (PHP) provides a crucial support system for those in need by offering a tailored blend of therapeutic modalities. Additionally, it incorporates holistic practices and practical coping strategies to further aid in treatment.

In this blog, we will explore the structure of a partial hospitalization program, examining its daily schedule, benefits, and challenges, to give you a deeper understanding of this transformative and life-changing program. So, whether you or a loved one are considering PHP as a treatment option, let’s delve into the unique features that make PHP an essential bridge between inpatient and outpatient care.

What is a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)?

A partial hospitalization program (PHP) is a short-term but highly-intensive treatment program for individuals experiencing challenges with mental health, substance abuse, alcoholism, or co-occurring disorders. 

PHPs provide a structured setting to stabilize patients with severe symptoms and teach healthier coping methods. PHPs are most effective when used to bridge the gap between inpatient and outpatient care. They can create a higher level of support than other outpatient treatment options while allowing individuals to live independently.

How Do I Know if I Need A PHP Program?

Many wonder how to tell if they need a PHP or other treatment program. While they are similar to outpatient programs, some key indicators may mean someone is particularly suited to a PHP. A PHP is suitable for significant mental health issues affecting daily life without needing residential care.

 Other indications that a PHP may be preferable include the following:

  • Symptoms worsening despite adhering to an outpatient treatment program
  • Transitioning from inpatient care and more structure is required in an effective step-down program
  • More support is needed, in one form or another, to manage mental health or substance abuse issues effectively

For PHP suitability, consult a mental health professional to assess your needs and suggest proper care.

What is a PHP Assessment?

Individuals considering a PHP must first undergo a comprehensive physical and mental assessment. After this evaluation, the PHP can only be deemed a suitable option for their specific needs. The typical assessment will include the following:

  • A review of both your medical and psychiatric history
  • An assessment of the current challenges and symptoms being experienced
  • An evaluation of your addiction profile, if applicable to your treatment
  • An open discussion of treatment goals

Exploring the Structure and Daily Schedule of a Partial Hospitalization Program

Most PHPs will require 5-7 days per week of attendance. Each day typically includes 6-8 hours of various treatment programs and activities. While your program’s exact structure and schedule will depend on the facility you’re being treated at and your specific needs, there are some common elements to most PHPs. Here’s what a day in PHP will commonly include:

  • Group therapy: Here, the individual will engage in various group therapy discussions that cover topics such as coping strategies, emotional regulation, and improved communication skills. 
  • Individual therapy: One-on-one therapy and counseling sessions allow a more in-depth and private exploration of personal thoughts, feelings, and issues while creating individualized coping skills.
  • Behavioral therapy: Methods like cognitive-behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy help individuals in recovery to identify and change potentially problematic thought patterns and the subsequent behaviors they create.
  • Holistic healing: Many PHPs incorporate holistic healing practices like meditation, art therapy, music therapy, and even yoga to help support recovery by strengthening the mind-body connection.
  • Educational programming: During educational sessions, individuals will learn more about mental health, substance abuse, co-occurring disorders, and more to understand their challenges and treatments more clearly.
  • Family therapy: In many treatment plans, family members may be included in some therapy sessions to help create more open and honest communication within the family. It can also help strengthen family bonds significantly. 
  • Medication Management: As part of most comprehensive treatment plans, there will often be a medication component to help balance neurotransmitter issues to address other psychiatric or substance abuse issues.
  • Peer support: Individuals in a PHP will be among others who share similar life experiences, creating a solid foundation for peer support, which is essential to a successful long-term recovery.
  • Relapse prevention: A primary focus while in a PHP will be learning how to identify your triggers, developing effective coping strategies and life skills, and implementing those measures in daily life. This helps prepare PHP patients to prevent relapses in the future, boosting the chances of long-term recovery success. 

What are Some PHP Challenges?

There are substantial benefits that come with PHP participation. Still, some challenges come along with PHPs, so it’s important to be aware of those potential challenges before enrolling. Here’s a look at the most common challenges that participants face:

  1. Adapting to the highly structured daily routine and environment of PHPs can be challenging for some individuals. That said, it does get easier with continued participation in the program.
  2. The program’s emotional intensity may pose challenges in addressing and resolving various issues.
  3. However, these emotional experiences are part of the overall healing process. They are beneficial to the overall goals of PHP.
  4. PHP provides a close-knit environment where individuals can readily find support. Still, it can also make it difficult to set personal boundaries and avoid becoming overly reliant or bonding over the trauma.
  5. Since PHP is a high-intensity treatment program requiring a significant time investment, balancing other responsibilities like work, family, school, or friends can be challenging. 

PHP at Massachusetts Center for Addiction

You don’t need to suffer in silence if you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse. Help is available. While it takes courage to ask for it, it can be the most important step in your recovery. Depending on your unique treatment needs, you may find that a PHP is a good option. Contact the Massachusetts Center for Addiction today to discuss your treatment needs with a healthcare professional. 


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