Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

What is IOP Treatment for addiction and mental health?

An Intensive Outpatient Program, or IOP for teens, is an intensive form of outpatient treatment for mental health or substance use disorders.

For most, the intensive outpatient program is a step down from residential treatment at Horizon Recovery, where they have a full day of treatment.

During the IOP phase, clients receive a minimum of nine hours of treatment per week (three to five sessions of three hours each), usually in the afternoon or evening.

During IOP treatment, participants typically only visit the treatment facility for scheduled therapy. Participants who live out of the area may also attend via telehealth.

The Levels of Care at Horizon Recovery: 

Differences Between IOP Treatment and Residential Treatment

The primary difference between IOP treatment for teens and our residential phases of care is the number of treatment hours per week. The Residential Program consists of 44 hours of treatment per week, while the IOP is between 9 and 15 hours per week. The other key difference is accommodations. During residential treatment, patients receive all-inclusive accommodations that include mental health or substance use disorder treatment throughout the week. They live at our facility, sleep overnight, and have meals and activities there.

Mental health IOP or substance use disorder IOP for teens and adolescents is a supplement to residential treatment. Most patients begin with their residential phase of care. When residential care is completed, they move on to our intensive outpatient program. During IOP treatment, adolescents and teens can return home and resume school or work but continue to benefit from mental health or substance use disorder treatment three times a week. This flexible treatment arrangement acts as a supportive bridge back to everyday life.

Intensive Outpatient Program for addiction and co-occurring disorders

During the IOP phase of care, the focus is on applying what you have learned during your treatment in everyday life. The IOP arrangement allows you to bring real-world challenges or victories into the therapeutic space to process and learn from them. 

By the time you reach your IOP phase, we will have worked together for some time, and your treatment plan will be well underway. You might think of the IOP period a bit like training wheels. Most of your day and week are free, so school, work, or family responsibilities can resume, but a connection to our therapeutic support remains. 

You will attend group and/or individual therapy at Horizon Recovery three times a week for two hours at a time. This may be in person if you live locally or via telehealth if you do not. This gives you the opportunity to return to everyday life and ‘test drive’ your recovery while remaining connected to support from us.

The Intensive Outpatient Program at Horizon Recovery: 

  • Delivers more intensive therapeutic support than conventional outpatient counseling.
  • Provides continuing care and support for mental health and substance use disorders.
  • Builds confidence by helping adolescents and teens return to school or work.
  • Allows patients to bring real-world challenges into the treatment space.

Our IOP Process


The first step in the IOP process is to complete the intake process. The biopsychosocial model is an approach to understanding mental and physical health through a multi-systems lens, understanding the influence of biology, psychology, and social environment.

While these systems often overlap and interact to impact everyone’s well-being and risk for illness, understanding these systems can lead to more effective treatment. You may take several assessments and answer questions to uncover other possible mental health issues.

For one to two hours, the client, parents/caregiver discuss the presenting issues and what therapy modalities will work best for you. Next, we create a treatment plan.

Treatment Plan

Your biopsychosocial assessment is how you got here and what you want to change. Your treatment plan is the roadmap for making those changes. It is a series of goals with milestones to achieve along the way. The treatment plan is built directly from your assessments.

It is also a living document that changes as your treatment progresses. With your treatment care plan in hand, you will work to complete the identified goals and objectives as outlined each week.

With your assessment, diagnosis, and treatment plan in place, you are ready to start group therapy sessions and ongoing individual sessions with the group leader.

You will meet similar people in your group who have experienced traumas and other mental health issues, too. These will be the people with whom you spend the most time at IOP. Many lifelong friendships are made among people who go through treatment together.


As you progress toward achieving your goals and learn from your new friends in a group, your primary Therapist will ensure that all the external factors and people in your life are also moving in the right direction.

Whether we address medical concerns, living situations, or school issues, your Therapist is there to help enhance your self-awareness and understanding of your diagnosis, along with broadening your sense of what problems or challenges may be affecting your overall well-being.

Transition Planning

As you approach the completion of your treatment, you and your counselors will focus on what is next for you regarding support. From what you can do in your community to the Horizon Recovery Outpatient program that focuses on maintaining the new skills you learned and reinforcing your newfound health, sober-free living, and a new life in recovery.

Evidence-Based Treatments

We utilize both group and individual therapy to balance both benefits. Several recent studies confirm that, for delivering relapse prevention training, a group approach is at least as effective as individual therapy (McKay et al., 1997; Schmitz et al., 1997).

Group therapy offers the following benefits:

  • Providing opportunities for clients to develop communication skills and participate in socialization experiences without drugs or alcohol.
  • Establishing a safe environment in which clients support one another and, when necessary, confront one another constructively to help move recovery forward through a feeling of shared purpose and community. An essential part of creating a safe environment is a set of norms reinforcing healthy interaction.
  • We are introducing structure and discipline into what may have been chaotic lives.
  • Providing a venue for group leaders to transmit new information, teach new skills, and guide clients as they practice new behaviors. Group members who are further along in recovery can help other members, which advances their recovery, too.
happy young girl therapy - children's depression treatment

Individual Therapy

Conducted by the client’s primary Therapist, IOP uses individual therapy to address individual issues inappropriate for group therapy sessions, track treatment plan progress towards achieving treatment goals, manage aspects of treatment that fall outside of therapy sessions, and plan for discharge and transition. Clients meet with their Therapist for individual therapy for one hour per week.

Family Sessions

Family therapy is a type of psychotherapy that strives to reduce psychological distress and interpersonal conflict by promoting healthy communication, understanding, and relationships within the family unit. Family sessions are conducted one hour weekly with your primary Therapist.

Depending on the situation, your family members may be invited to participate via video conference with you and your Therapist.

The benefits of family therapy include better communication, resolving conflicts, better problem-solving skills, increased empathy and compassion, and improved anger management.


Psychoeducation combines the elements of cognitive-behavior therapy, group therapy, and education. The primary aim is to provide the client and families with knowledge about various facets of the illness and the recommended treatments so that they can work together with mental health professionals for a better overall outcome.

These groups provide a supportive environment where clients learn to complete numerous exercises that will give them personal insight into their symptoms, beliefs, behaviors, feelings, relationships, and inner biological functioning.

These lessons are delivered in a low-key rather than emotionally intense environment, focusing on rational problem-solving to help change dysfunctional beliefs and thinking patterns.

Some topics include:

  • Learning about biopsychosocial disease and recovery processes
  • Communication Skills, Unhealthy Relationships, Attachment Theory, and Social Media Management
  • Overcoming common barriers to treatment
  • Understanding the effect of specific drugs/alcohol and eating disorders on the brain and body
  • Impulse Control, Anger Issues, Relaxation Techniques, Suicide Prevention, Safety, Security, and Intention
  • Identifying and reducing trauma triggers/Trauma-PTSD informed Interventions
  • Conducting self-assessments, setting goals, and completing treatment exercises

Frequently Asked Questions About IOP Treatment For Teens

Choosing mental health or substance use disorder treatment for your teenage daughter or son is a big decision – we understand completely. Most parents have lots of questions throughout the process.

We’ve listed answers to a few of the questions we are asked most often below to help you better understand treatment options for your teen and make an informed choice.

IOP for Adolescents and Teens F.A.Q.

Is Teen IOP Treatment for Addiction or Mental Health Covered By My Insurance?

Since the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) and The Affordable Care Act (ACA) were passed, all U.S. health insurance plans must offer treatment coverage. To find out what your health insurance covers and what your out-of-pocket costs might look like, head to our Insurance Page and submit your details via our secure confidential form.

We will reply within 24 hours or less with answers.

When Can My Teen Begin IOP Treatment and When Do Sessions Occur?

The first step is an over-the-phone admissions screening. We can often conduct the screening while your health insurance verification of benefits is done. This initial assessment helps us better understand your teen’s needs so we can make treatment recommendations.

Our IOP sessions are currently scheduled Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. (6 hours per week). Both in-person and telehealth are available.

How Much Family Involvement Is Offered At Horizon Recovery?

We go the extra mile to support families right from their initial contact with us. Small gestures, such as a comprehensive welcome packet that explains what to expect during treatment, go a long way in making families feel at ease.

Moreover, as a pioneering step in our industry, we’ve introduced a dedicated Family Liaison whose sole responsibility is to proactively communicate with families daily as their loved ones progress through treatment. 

How Do I Know If IOP Treatment is Right for My Teenage Son or Daughter?

This is a question we hear often. Most of the teens and adolescents who come to use for mental health treatment or with a substance use disorder are in one of two categories. 

1. They have tried weekly or bi-weekly outpatient therapy or counseling but have not made enough progress or they have “plateaued” or stalled in their healing process.

2. They were in crisis and completed a residential inpatient treatment program for teens and are now ready to begin the transition back to everyday life. 

The IOP for teens at Horizon Recovery offers more intensive therapeutic care than conventional weekly or bi-weekly outpatient counseling. This makes it a more effective follow-up to residential or inpatient treatment. IOP is also an option for the teen struggling with a mental health challenge, who perhaps does not require residential care. 
The best place to begin in any case is with an initial phone screening.

Please give us a call at (602) 755-7858 for more information.