What is Intensive Outpatient Therapy?
Gabriella* spent 17 years of her career as a hospital technician, a place that she hoped to retire from one day. But that dream—and her whole world—came crashing down earlier this year.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she started working every day. The stress was overwhelming, but she remained committed. Conflict with a new manager, however, took a toll on her and she started to feel anxious when she pulled into the parking lot.
In January, Gabriella suffered a mental break. She started feeling extremely depressed and suicidal. A social worker from her doctor’s office recommended a unique therapy option at Southern California Hospital at Culver City called Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), which offers in-depth group therapy for individuals who need more help than a standard therapist can provide.
“There are a lot of people who fall through the cracks, so to speak, in that they need more intensive therapy than just seeing a therapist once a week or once a month,” said Dr. Michael Tolwin, a psychiatrist who works with IOP patients. “At the same time, they don’t need inpatient care and want to stay at home – our program fits in the middle.”
Stress at work and from unpredictable world events, such as the pandemic, are two of the most common causes of stress, according to WebMD, which cited common external factors that can cause anxiety:
- Stress at work
- Stress from school
- Stress in a personal relationship, such as marriage
- Financial stress
- Stress from global occurrences or political issues
- Stress from unpredictable or uncertain world events, like a pandemic
- Stress from an emotional trauma, such as the death of a loved one
Southern California Hospital at Culver City’s IOP addresses addictions, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and other common conditions outside of a traditional residential treatment program.
IOP enables patients to live at home and continue with their normal, day-to-day lives while still receiving intensive treatment. For instance, Gabriella has been attending group sessions three days a week for four hours a day since February.
Therapy in a peer setting has completely changed Gabriella’s outlook on life and made her realize that she’s not alone. By openly sharing their experiences with the same traumas and issues, the members of her group learn from one another and help each other out of tough situations.
Along with group therapy, Culver City’s IOP provides individual therapy and the opportunity to see a psychiatrist for medication as well. Most patients attend the program on a short-term basis and then follow up with their own therapist.
The IOP accepts most types of insurance and provides free transportation (within a specific radius) and lunch to patients. Sessions are in-person following COVID precautions.
“Everything I went through within these last weeks, it’s getting down to the reason why I am the way that I am, and it’s like an epiphany,” Gabriella says. “I started off coming in with complete anxiety, fear, and panic, and now I’m much more myself.”
For more information, call (310) 815-3150.
*Her name has been changed for this article