Partial hospitalization for mental health treatment is a program that helps individuals who suffer from mental illness but do not necessarily need inpatient hospitalization to be treated.  In partial hospitalization, an individual will receive therapy and other services at a facility by attending partial day programs for several weeks or months. The hours typically range from 9 AM to 6 PM, but it varies from program to program. On weekdays, the individual will attend therapy all day and then return home in the evening where they must be willing and able to continue their treatment independently or with family support. 

Nowadays, mental health treatment programs are becoming more common and widely available through different institutes such as the Alvarado Parkway Institute mental health facility. Although the term ‘partial hospitalization’ is used frequently, each program may vary significantly. Here are some of the most important things to know about this type of treatment: 

  1. It’s Not A Substitute For Acute Hospitalization 

Patients are often confused by the purpose of partial hospitalization versus what they would experience in an acute inpatient facility. Although partial hospitalization provides similar services to an acute stay, it doesn’t replace the benefits of inpatient treatment. 

For example, inpatient treatment is typically long-term and keeps the patient in the unit 24/7. On the other hand, partial hospitalization mimics outpatient therapy, which is helpful but not adequate for managing mental illness or addiction on its own.  While partial hospitalization is an excellent option for those who cannot access outpatient care, it should never be considered equal or equivalent to inpatient services.

  1. It Helps Patients Manage Their Illness

Partial hospitalization is often combined with an outpatient support program. Combining both treatments allows individuals to get the necessary help they need to stay healthy and independent in their day-to-day lives.  

Partial hospitalization helps by:   

  • Providing routine and structure to patients’ days   
  • Providing a safe environment for patients to learn healthy coping skills    
  • Offering therapy with other individuals who are struggling with similar conditions    
  • Preventing relapse in individuals who are recovering from addiction    
  1. There Are Different Levels Of Partial Hospitalization

The intensity of the partial hospitalization program will vary from patient to patient. It’s different from a typical outpatient or inpatient program because it allows for higher levels of care concerning the severity and presentation of a patient’s mental illness.

Partial hospitalization programs are categorized into levels of care, which are decided by the patient’s recovery team. The recovery team consists of a therapist, psychiatrist/psychologist, case manager, and patient. 

The most important thing you should know about this type of partial hospitalization program is that therapists can use this to help stabilize a patient who is also experiencing psychosis. It means that the program could prevent an individual from going through inpatient psychiatric treatment, which typically requires close medical monitoring and supervision.  

The different levels of care include:

  • Level 1:

    Offers daily group therapy and integration with the community for an average of 16 hours per week. The treatment team meets with the patient every other day to discuss their progress and monitor medication compliance.

Medical services may be available but the program doesn’t provide routine medical monitoring.

  • Level 2:

    Offers a more intensive level of care with a higher average weekly participation of about 20 hours per week. The treatment team meets with patients every day to discuss their progress and supervise medication management and integration into various social activities within the community.

In most cases, a case manager is assigned to each patient on the unit.   

  • Level 3:

    It also provides a more intensive level of care with an average of 24 hours per week. The treatment team meets with patients two to three times per day and performs close medical monitoring while also integrating them into social activities within the community.  

A case manager works with the treatment team to ensure that the individual’s needs are met.   

The particular intensity of each level depends on what type of therapy is offered within the program and how often it is provided. For example, a partial hospitalization program may offer different types of therapy (i.e., group or individual therapy) depending on the level of care they provide.

Partial hospitalization programs are typically used to serve people experiencing a psychotic break or who are at risk for developing one. For example, an individual may be admitted into a partial hospitalization program if their therapist believes that they’re at risk of having the following:

  • Panic attacks   
  • Alcohol or drug withdrawal   
  • An episode of mania or severe depression      
  • An episode of paranoia or hallucinations       

Partial hospitalization is best for individuals who are at risk because they have trouble coping with daily stresses that can contribute to the development of psychosis (i.e., moving on, death of a loved one, etc.).

  1. It’s More Convenient

Although people have positive experiences with inpatient treatment, residential treatment centers are often full and aren’t always the only solution for a particular patient. Inpatient treatment is also costly for a family, and it’s not always practical to commit someone to a residential program for an entire month or longer. Residential treatment can be inconvenient as well. For example, if you’ve got a job that requires frequent travel, then you may have difficulty attending weekly therapeutic sessions.  

Partial hospitalization programs provide many therapeutic benefits as inpatient treatment, but they are more convenient because they involve less time away from home and family. For instance, an individual typically spends two to three hours per day within a partial hospitalization program. It means that they can be back at their home with family and friends by nightfall.   

  1. It’s Economical

The costs associated with inpatient treatment can be incredibly high for a family, especially if their insurance plan covers an insufficient amount of the facility’s treatment cost. On the other hand, partial hospitalization programs are typically much more economical. It’s because you only pay for treatment that is actually provided. 

For example, if an individual only needs one hour of therapy per day, they will only receive and be billed for the necessary services. It’s much more economical than paying for a month’s worth of treatment sessions.   

Also, some insurance companies provide coverage for partial hospitalization programs. If your insurance company covers the cost of partial hospitalization, then this is another good reason to consider this type of program.

  1. It Allows For Suff  Time

One of the significant differences between partial hospitalization programs and residential treatment centers is that people usually stay within a partial hospitalization program for one to two months or longer. This extended treatment time allows individuals to make substantial progress in their improvement before transitioning back into regular life (i.e., spending more time with family, getting back to work).   

On the other hand, residential treatment programs require people to stay within the facility for a much shorter period. For example, a family may only have their loved one attend a residential treatment center for a week or so before transitioning back into their home environment.   

  1. It’s Less Stigmatizing

One of the major benefits of attending a partial hospitalization program instead of an inpatient treatment center is that the individual feels less stigmatized when they finish their time within a partial hospitalization program. 

Partial hospitalization programs are usually viewed as less stigmatizing than residential treatment centers because they are often seen as “mini-residencies.” For example, many people who attend partial hospitalization programs can continue working full time while paying for outpatient care. It can be highly favorable because it allows people to still hold on to their jobs—providing a deep sense of purpose, responsibility, and a sense of normalcy in their lives.   

  1. It Offers Greater Privacy

Partial hospitalization programs are often much more private than residential treatment facilities because they usually reside in doctor’s offices or other medical facilities.

For example, if you prefer to remain anonymous and only tell your closest friends and family members that you’re attending a partial hospitalization program, this would be far easier to accomplish than in an inpatient setting where everyone is living together in the same facility.  

Partial hospitalization programs are often more private because they allow for greater confidentiality and discretion. Therefore, you will likely feel more comfortable attending a partial hospitalization program than an inpatient setting because fewer people will be aware of your attendance.

  1. It Encourages Self-Discovery

Partial hospitalization is all about self-discovery and helping clients become more aware of their behavior, thoughts, and feelings.

For example, in a partial hospitalization program, clients will often learn to be more present at the moment to understand better what’s going on with themselves and why they’re feeling certain ways.   

It’s also beneficial because individuals will discover new hobbies and interests that were previously unexplored. After engaging in these activities, the individual will feel more fulfilled and satisfied with their lives.  

As a result of self-discovery, individuals often make positive changes within themselves that can help them transition back into a regular and healthy life. It’s instrumental because it allows individuals to take ownership over the changes they’ve made, so there’s less possibility to revert to their old ways.

Therefore, clients who attend a partial hospitalization program will come out on the other side feeling more self-aware and content with themselves.   


Partial hospitalization programs come as an excellent option for those who need more treatment than individual therapy but less care than an inpatient treatment center. These facilities offer a middle ground between the two, allowing individuals to receive treatment without being too far removed from their support networks and responsibilities.   If you or a loved one is seeking treatment for a mental illness, you should consult with your therapist regarding partial hospitalization programs as an option to consider.

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