Do I need online counseling services or virtual IOP: What’s the difference?
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Online counseling services and virtual intensive outpatient programs (vIOPs) are often confused. If you’re not familiar with the primary differences between the two, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. We’ll explain some of the biggest distinctions between these types of treatment programs — not only that, but how to know if you need one over the other. 

What do online counseling services do?

Online counseling can be described in the same way that in-person counseling services can be. It provides many of the same services, but the main difference is that counseling is conducted online. This might be via telehealth appointments on your phone, computer or tablet. They can be done by meeting over video chat, over a phone call, through text messaging and via emails. 

Online counseling services can be used in place of general in-person counseling services that are recommended to people who can receive mental health care independently and are not in an immediate crisis. Some people prefer online counseling to in-person counseling because it allows for a great degree of flexibility, eliminates the need for transportation and can be less intimidating for some than traditional counseling.

What do virtual intensive outpatient programs do?

A virtual intensive outpatient program (vIOP) is a mental health program that is conducted virtually but differs from general online counseling services. It’s an intensive program, meaning that it’s targeted toward clients who require more intervention than just weekly online therapy sessions. Treatment occurs three to five days a week, and includes virtual group therapy and virtual individual therapy.

The frequency of treatment is the same as any in-person intensive outpatient program. The biggest difference is that it’s performed virtually; meetings and appointments are done via web conferencing, phone calls, text messaging or email.

How do I know if I need online counseling or virtual IOP?

  • How severe are your symptoms? — Individuals who need more than just weekly psychotherapy to address their struggles are good candidates for vIOP.

  • How long will you need treatment? — The amount of time you need to receive treatment is another indicator of the type of treatment program your specialist will recommend to you. Those in need of longer treatment periods are more likely to benefit from intensive programs.

  • Do you need extra support during treatment? — If you’re someone who requires a little extra support during your treatment, you’re more likely to undergo a virtual IOP than online counseling. Virtual IOPs can offer clients more support and attention than a general counseling program.

These are just a few of the considerations that determine the type of treatment you’d benefit the most from. It’s worth noting, however, that your treatment needs will be decided by your mental health specialist. They’ll review your unique needs and identify whether you’d be better off with general online counseling or a more intensive virtual program.

Lightfully wants to guide you through online counseling and virtual IOPs

Our mission at Lightfully is to work with individuals to change their life compassionately. We strive to provide high-quality mental health care to various types of clients through a focused approach to process-based therapy. The framework of our clinic consists of evidence-based, clearly defined, data-driven and whole-person-centered care. Lightfully offers various layers of service to both adults and teens: Residential Treatment, Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), and Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), also referred to as our Day Treatment Program. We also offer a Virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (vIOP) for adults.

Our therapists are experienced in dealing with a variety of conditions and unique circumstances. Whether you require general online counseling or a more intensive outpatient program, we’re here for you. You deserve compassionate treatment, and we’d like to help you work toward a healthier future.

Our licensed, clinical experts see each client as a complex and layered human — not just a diagnosis. We value our clients as they are and hope to enrich their lives through treatment. Our vision for the future is an authentic and loving community where everyone can be seen, heard, and valued as they are. We believe in the light within each individual, and when that light is properly nurtured, it can allow a person to shine brighter than ever before.

Change is possible. When you’re ready to take the first step in your mental health journey, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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