What Is Partial Hospitalization?

Partial hospitalization is the highest intensity level of outpatient treatment. While it is not residential treatment, it includes daily supervision and guidance, with structured programs throughout the day most days of the week. At the end of the treatment day, the person can then return home.

As described in an article from Psych Central, this type of treatment program can be very helpful for people whose home situation does not necessarily pose a relapse risk, but who have a degree of symptoms that require acute care while not needing 24-hour supervision. This can include people who have co-occurring mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression, that need continued management.

In a partial hospitalization program, a participant might have several different sessions each day that include counseling and therapy to assist in implementing behavioral changes, self-help or 12-Step group sessions, and support from psychiatric and medical treatment professionals.

Through these methods, the program gives participants tools that will help them avoid relapse once the program is over and build tools for future management of the chronic substance use disorder.

The Partial Hospitalization Level of Care

According to the ASAM Continuum level of care decision engine, partial hospitalization – which is designated as Level II.5 under the placement criteria – includes the following:

  1. Treatment services for 20 or more hours per week
  2. Care that can help people dealing with co-occurring conditions
  3. Daytime services, allowing the individual to go home at night
  4. Care that includes regular interaction with psychiatric and/or medical personnel, as needed

Partial hospitalization is designated for those who need daily supervision, but who are in a supportive living situation that is less likely to influence the person to relapse into drug use. It is generally for those with a degree of substance abuse or addiction that, if the partial hospitalization option did not exist, would otherwise enter residential treatment.

Progressing through Care

As stated above, partial hospitalization can be a point of entry into treatment; however, it can also be used as a transition out of residential care. If a person has completed an inpatient program  defined by Level III criteria, but has not met the goals indicating readiness to manage addiction recovery without a high level of support, the Level II services that include partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient services are the next step, as explained in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Treatment Improvement Protocols.

It is always possible for the individual to move up to a higher level of treatment if more support is needed. In turn, if the individual meets the goals of the partial hospitalization treatment level, it is possible to step down to intensive outpatient treatment or other lower levels of care. This continuum of care enables treatment to be fine-tuned for each individual, providing a higher likelihood that the person will remain motivated, get the most out of treatment, and be prepared to enter a stable life in recovery.