Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program

Sometimes it’s impossible to check into a mental health treatment facility for 30 days (or longer) and stay on top of the responsibilities of your everyday life. Intensive Outpatient at the Mental Health Center of San Diego is perfect for people who have too many responsibilities to enroll in residential care.

Our Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program provides a high level of care and all of the treatment aspects of residential programs but still grants you the freedom to return home every night. Our program is ideal for anyone with work, school, or family responsibilities that can’t be put on hold.

Levels of Care

What is an Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program?

Intensive outpatient mental health treatment at MHC San Diego is a level of care that is designed to provide more thorough support than traditional outpatient care, but does not require the 24-hour supervision of inpatient care

Intensive outpatient treatment programs are designed to provide thorough treatment while allowing patients to maintain their independence. Designed to help individuals who are experiencing an increase in distressing symptoms and behaviors or aren’t progressing in traditional outpatient services. The comprehensive programming and added support foster meaningful improvement and create a solid foundation for clients before they transition to community providers.

Who Should Attend an Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program

Given the vast roles that intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) can perform, individuals who participate in IOPs can come from various referral sources. Several patients in IOP are transitioning from acute care, whereas others may benefit from IOP as the beginning point for their efforts.

An ideal candidate for IOP has:

  • Developed adequate coping mechanisms
  • The support of friends or loved ones at home


Intensive outpatient treatment may be the first time an individual receives active treatment in an outpatient setting. Those transitioning from acute treatment have frequently gained vital skills that they may now put to use in an environment that still allows for routine therapeutic sessions.


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What to Expect From Intensive Outpatient Treatment at the Mental Health Center of San Diego

Our IOP meets three to five days a week for three hours per day, allowing treatment flexibility around class schedules, work, or other obligations.

Mental Health Center of San Diego Interior Photo of Outpatient

Some services you can expect in our Intensive Outpatient Program

  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Crisis management
  • Other services and topics that are addressed in our IOP

  • Coping skills for managing triggers
  • Co-occurring mental health concerns
  • Health and wellness
  • Goal setting
  • The role of spirituality
  • Benefits of Intensive Outpatient Treatment Programs

    Decades of research and experience have proven the advantages of intensive outpatient treatment. Multiple research studies have confirmed the effectiveness of IOP.

    Balanced and Effective

    IOPs strike a balance between outpatient autonomy and residential or inpatient treatment. Intensive outpatient programs are less demanding than inpatient care and provide more programming options than traditional outpatient treatment.

    Availability of Mental Health Services

    IOPs are well suited to addressing mental health conditions because they include frequent, predictable access to mental health providers. During intensive outpatient treatment, it is common for previously undiagnosed mental health conditions to be diagnosed.

    Availability of Medical Services

    In intensive outpatient treatment, physicians, advanced practice allied health professionals, and nursing staff conduct ongoing health needs assessments and medication management.

    Significant Therapeutic and Educational Possibilities

    IOPs provide complete services that allow patients to make significant and sustainable progress in a relatively short amount of time, with fewer clinical hours than residential or partial hospitalization programs.

    Intensive Outpatient Mental Health Services in San Diego

    IOPs are often used as a step down from inpatient care, or as an alternative to inpatient care for individuals who are not able to commit to a full program. The flexibility and level of attention that are involved in IOP are helpful for people who are deterred from the idea of staying at a facility and can be an effective way to manage mental health issues and promote healing. To learn more about if our Intensive Outpatient Program is right for you or a loved one call the Mental Health Center of San Diego at (858) 258-9883.