A partial hospital program is an intensive level of outpatient treatment that can be thought of as one step down from an inpatient stay. PHP is a frequent treatment for people who have either just been released from an inpatient stay or are very symptomatic and likely to go inpatient if something is not done quickly. The intensity is so high that PHP is part of Medicare’s inpatient benefit (Medicare A). Again, one overriding principle throughout treatment is to provide the appropriate level of care or service in the least restrictive way.
An individual enrolled in a PHP will attend groups four to seven days a week for at least four hours a day. She will be evaluated by an MD or APRN and will participate in the treatment-planning process, in which goals are set with specific target dates and interventions. Groups will focus on education, symptom identification, strategies to decrease stress, coping skills and so forth. Because substance abuse is so prevalent in bipolar disorder, many PHPs offer a dual-diagnosis track so that treatment for the chemical abuse/dependency is incorporated into the overall plan and treatment. Couples’ work and family sessions may also be part of the treatment, and many programs offer a weekly group in the evening for families to come together and receive support and education.
Similar to an inpatient unit, the PHP utilizes a multidisciplinary approach (psychiatrist, nurses, social workers, psychologists, and various therapists) so that all aspects of a person’s recovery can be addressed (psychological, social, occupational, and spiritual).
Length of stay in a PHP is typically brief, on the order of one to four weeks. The goal is to stabilize symptoms, often with further adjustment of medications, and to look toward transitioning the individual to less intensive, less restrictive treatment options.