What is Partial Hospitalization for Mental Health

Mental health conditions are becoming extremely common all over the world, with statistics showing that about one in five Americans experiences some form of mental illness each year. 

While conditions like depression and anxiety can often be well-managed through outpatient treatments like therapy and medication, some people may require more intensive levels of care.

When it comes to treating mental illness, there are typically three main options – outpatient treatment, inpatient hospitalization, and partial hospitalization treatment. 

For those whose needs cannot be met through weekly therapy alone but do not yet require 24-hour hospitalization, partial hospitalization provides an intermediate level of care.

In this article, we will explore what is partial hospitalization for mental health entails and how it can benefit those experiencing certain mental health conditions. 

We’ll outline typical program components and explain how partial provides a transitional phase of care bridging the gap between in- and outpatient levels of support.

An Overview of the Partial Hospitalization Program

A partial hospitalization program provides more intensive treatment than traditional outpatient care but within a structured day program environment rather than an overnight inpatient hospital stay. 

The goal of partial is to offer stabilized individuals extra clinical support as they transition between levels of care.

Typically, a partial hospitalization program operates daily from morning until afternoon or evening. 

Patients spend significant portions of each day engaged in therapeutic activities and psychoeducation at the hospital facilities. 

This could entail individual or group therapy sessions, coping skills classes, medication management meetings, and other focused programming.

By dedicating large sections of their day to treatment, patients gain extra clinical support and supervision that can help preserve stability as underlying issues are addressed. 

Therapists and psychiatrists are readily available to assist with any difficulties that may arise and adjust the plan of care accordingly to help maintain wellness.

Evening and weekend hours in PHPs allow for a return home each day rather than residentialization. 

This less restrictive environment can still promote recovery while avoiding the challenges of full hospitalization. 

What is Partial Hospitalization for Mental Health: What to Expect?


Designed to bridge the gap between inpatient care and traditional outpatient services, PHPs provide a wide array of interventions for individuals struggling with mental health conditions.

Here is an overview of what PHP typically entails:

1. Structured Daily Schedule: 

Upon enrollment in a PHP, participants can expect to stick to a structured daily schedule. 

The program typically operates on a full-time basis, with participants attending treatment sessions during regular business hours, usually five days a week.

The structured nature of the program ensures consistency and fosters a sense of routine, which can be instrumental in promoting stability and facilitating therapeutic progress.

2. Multidisciplinary Treatment Team:

PHPs employ a multidisciplinary treatment approach, bringing together a team of mental health clinicians from various disciplines to collaborate on the comprehensive care of participants.

This interdisciplinary team may include psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, nurses, occupational therapists, and other allied health professionals. 

Each team member plays an important role in assessing, diagnosing, and addressing the unique needs of participants, ensuring holistic and personalized care.

3. Evidence-Based Therapeutic Interventions:

PHPs offer a wide range of evidence-based therapeutic interventions aimed at addressing different aspects of mental health and promoting recovery. 

These may include individual therapy, group therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), mindfulness-based interventions among others. 

3. Psychoeducation: 

In PHPs, psychoeducation plays a major role in equipping patients with knowledge about their condition, treatment options, and healthy coping skills. 

Through daily classes and workshops led by clinicians, patients gain insight into the nature of their mental health condition, its symptoms, and underlying causes. 

Psychoeducation also focuses on relapse prevention strategies, helping patients recognize the warning signs and develop effective coping mechanisms to prevent setbacks in their recovery.

4. Medication Management: 

In these programs, psychiatrists collaborate closely with patients and their primary care doctors to oversee and adjust medications to ensure maximum effectiveness and minimum side effects. 

Through regular assessments and medication reviews, psychiatrists monitor patients’ responses to medication, address any side effects, and make appropriate adjustments as needed.

5. Skills Building: 

PHPs offer a variety of activities aimed at helping patients develop strategies for managing symptoms, reducing stress, improving sleep, exercising, and more to promote overall wellness. 

These activities may include psychoeducational workshops, relaxation techniques, mindfulness practices, stress management exercises, and physical fitness activities. 

The emphasis on skills building empowers patients to take an active role in their recovery and cultivate habits that support long-term mental health and well-being.

6. Case Management: 

Case management services are integral to PHPs, providing patients with comprehensive support in setting treatment goals, problem-solving, and coordinating discharge plans. 

Case managers work closely with patients to assess their individual needs, identify barriers to recovery, and develop personalized treatment plans. 

They assist patients in navigating the healthcare system, accessing community resources, and addressing practical concerns such as housing, transportation, and financial assistance. 

Additionally, case managers collaborate with other members of the treatment team to ensure seamless coordination of care and continuity of support throughout the treatment process.

7. Additional Treatment

In addition to core therapeutic interventions, some PHPs also offer a range of additional treatments to meet the needs of individual patients.

They may incorporate family therapy, nutrition counseling, movement therapy, art/music therapy and more depending on individual needs.

Explaining the Workings of a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) for Mental Health Treatment

Referrals to partial hospitalization programs typically come from inpatient psychiatry units, outpatient providers, or self-referrals during a crisis.

Upon enrollment in a PHP, individuals undergo an assessment to determine their specific treatment needs and goals. 

Depending on their diagnosis, they may opt for a condition-specific PHP program to address particular concerns such as trauma, eating disorders, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

The PHP experience revolves around a structured daily schedule, similar to that of an inpatient program, typically lasting 4 to 8 hours each day, up to 5 days a week. 

This structured programming encompasses a variety of therapeutic interventions, including individual therapy, group therapy, psychoeducation, medication management, and skills-building.

The duration of participation in a PHP program varies depending on individual symptoms, treatment progress, and clinical recommendations. 

Some individuals may spend weeks to several months actively engaged in the program to achieve optimal outcomes in their recovery journey. 

Participants commute to and from the treatment program each day, maintaining a level of independence and flexibility in their daily routines. 

For those facing transportation or mobility challenges, some PHPs offer telehealth options, enabling virtual participation in treatment sessions.

Throughout their participation in the PHP, individuals are encouraged to actively engage in the acquisition and application of coping skills, strategies, and tools to manage their mental health.

Therapists and clinicians work collaboratively with participants to cultivate adaptive coping mechanisms, enhance problem-solving abilities, and improve interpersonal relationships.

By providing a supportive and therapeutic environment, PHPs play a huge role in facilitating recovery, promoting wellness, and fostering long-term stability.

What Are the Criteria for Patients in a Partial Hospitalization Program?

PHPs accept referrals for patients who can benefit from a more intensive level of treatment than traditional outpatient care but do not currently require around-the-clock hospitalization. 

Some common criteria for admission include:

  • Experiencing significant symptoms related to their mental health condition despite engagement in outpatient therapy and medication management. 
  • Having stabilized from an acute episode or inpatient stay but still showing residual symptoms that place the individual at risk for relapse if managed only on an outpatient basis.
  • Presenting with co-occurring psychiatric and substance use disorders to receive coordinated treatment for both during the transition phase.
  • Having encountered challenges accessing quality community-based care for their mental health needs, leading to functional decline that could be addressed with more intensive day programming.
  • Facing psychosocial stressors in their living situation that may undermine recovery progress without a structured treatment environment during the day.
  • Agreeing to the daily and weekly PHP schedule and showing motivation to actively participate in therapeutic activities, groups, and individual sessions as part of the program.

Where Are PHP Services Provided?


PHP services are typically offered in a variety of settings, ranging from specialized psychiatric hospitals to community-based mental health centers and outpatient clinics. 

The availability and location of PHP services may also vary depending on factors such as geographical location, population density, and healthcare infrastructure.

1. Psychiatric Hospitals:

Many psychiatric hospitals offer PHP services as part of their continuum of care for individuals with mental health conditions. 

These facilities are equipped with the resources, expertise, and infrastructure necessary to provide intensive treatment and support to individuals experiencing acute psychiatric symptoms. 

PHP services in psychiatric hospitals often benefit from close collaboration with inpatient units, allowing for seamless transitions between levels of care as needed.

2. Community Mental Health Centers:

Community mental health centers play an important role in providing accessible and comprehensive mental health services to individuals in their local communities. 

Many community mental health centers also offer PHP services as a less restrictive alternative to inpatient hospitalization.

This allows individuals to receive intensive treatment while remaining connected to their support systems and community resources. 

3. Outpatient Clinics:

Outpatient clinics, including private practices and medical facilities, may also offer PHP services to individuals in need of more intensive treatment for mental health concerns.

These clinics provide a range of interventions, medication management, and support services in a less structured environment than psychiatric hospitals or community mental health centers. 

PHP services in outpatient clinics may offer greater flexibility in scheduling and may be more accessible to individuals living in urban or suburban areas.

4. Telehealth:

With the advancement of technology, many PHPs now offer telehealth options, allowing individuals to participate in treatment sessions remotely from the comfort of their own homes. 

Telehealth PHP services utilize video conferencing platforms to facilitate group and individual therapy sessions, medication management appointments, and psychoeducational workshops. 

This mode of service delivery enhances access to care for individuals facing barriers such as transportation challenges, mobility limitations, or rural isolation.

What are the Benefits of Using PHP?

PHPs offer several important benefits to individuals experiencing mental health issues:

1. Reduced Symptom Severity: Attending structured programming for multiple hours daily gives patients increased support that can curb symptom worsening between outpatient visits.

2. Prevention of Relapse: Close monitoring by therapists and participation in skills groups help patients utilize coping strategies to maintain stability and head off potential relapses.

3. Improved Functioning: Dedicating large portions of the day to recovery aims to resolve issues that may impair occupational, academic, social, and daily functioning.

4. Coordinated Care: Different components (medication management, therapy, crisis planning, etc.) delivered seamlessly through one program greatly streamlines recovery efforts.

5. Stepped Care: PHPs serve as a transitioning level between higher and lower levels of care intensity based on individualized needs over time.

6. Convenience: Local, community-based programs provide intensive resources without interrupting patients’ lives through residentialization or long commutes to higher levels of care.

7. Connection: Patients benefit from peer support through group services and building fellowship with others experiencing similar challenges.

8. More Flexibility: Since PHP is non-residential, you have more flexibility to work or attend school compared to restrictive inpatient programs.

9. Lower Costs: PHP is usually less costly than inpatient care, with average daily PHP costs starting from around $350, compared to a minimum of $1,100 for average hospital stays.

How Does PHP Differ from Rehab and Therapy?

Partial hospitalization programs differ significantly from traditional outpatient rehab and therapy in both the intensity and scope of treatment provided. 

Outpatient therapy typically involves weekly or bi-weekly one or two-hour sessions where a patient receives individual therapy and medication management if needed.

However, partial hospitalization programs provide intensive treatment five days a week for four to eight hours each day. 

During this extended daily treatment period, patients benefit from a continuum of clinically integrated care.

This includes psychoeducation, individual or group therapy, medication management, case management, etc. to assist with coordinating care and navigating issues hindering recovery.

This allows the entire day to be focused on treatment and collaboration between the entire clinical team to ensure a patient’s needs are comprehensively addressed.

In outpatient therapy, patients are expected to independently practice and implement the skills and concepts learned during their limited weekly sessions outside of the treatment environment. 

PHPs alleviate this responsibility by providing intensive treatment programming where patients have continuous oversight and support from therapists to reinforce learning and manage any difficulties. 

They also serve to seamlessly coordinate all aspects of a patient’s care rather than requiring separate coordination between individual specialists like therapists and psychiatrists. 

All in all, partial hospitalization provides a higher dosage and coordinated model of treatment well-suited for those requiring intensive stabilization as they transition from inpatient care.


1. What is the difference between partial and inpatient hospitalization?

Partial hospitalization is a non-residential, intensive treatment program where patients receive care during the day but return home at night. 
Inpatient hospitalization involves round-the-clock care at a facility as an overnight patient. Partial offers a less restrictive option for those who do not need 24/7 care.

2. How long does partial hospitalization last?

PHPs typically last 4-8 hours per day, up to 5 days a week, and can range from a few weeks to several months depending on individual treatment needs and progress made. 
The average length of stay is 2-4 weeks but flexes based on clinical evaluation.

3. How much does a partial hospitalization program cost?

Without insurance, the average daily cost of a partial hospitalization program ranges from $350 to $1300 per treatment day.

Manuel Alejandro Patiño

Personal and professionally focused on integral wellness in mind, emotions, and body, as the main key to preventing toxic stress and chronic diseases. I try to be an example of what I teach, healing not just from the knowledge. I am also very adaptable to employeer’s requirements. I can understand and speak Spanish, English, and German very fluently.

More than 7 years of experience practicing and teaching Kundalini Yoga and other meditation