Intensive Outpatient Program for OCD

CTSA’s Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), directed by Danielle Cooper, PhD, is a clinical service for adult patients with moderate to severe OCD seeking a higher level of outpatient care delivered in a condensed timeframe. Our IOP centers around the delivery of Exposure and Response Prevention (ExRP), the gold-standard treatment approach for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) originally developed at the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety. The IOP is a daily treatment program delivered in a fully virtual format that consists of approximately 4 hours per day of treatment 5 days per week for 6 weeks. Treatment includes daily individual sessions with a licensed psychologist, exposure therapy with an individual therapist, and group therapy.

 

Frequently asked questions:

Who may be a good fit?

The IOP is currently open to adults ages 18 and older with moderate to severe OCD. Patients must be physically located in PA, NJ, or DE for the duration of the program. IOP patients need to have stable internet, reasonable privacy, a willingness to participate in groups, and the time to dedicate to the IOP schedule.  Clinically, this program would be a particularly good fit for patients whose primary diagnosis is OCD and have found standard outpatient psychotherapy for OCD to be insufficient.

What does the program consist of?

Treatment includes daily 1 hour sessions of individual therapy with the assigned primary provider (licensed clinical psychologist), 2 hours of daily exposure therapy with an individual therapist, and 1 hour of group therapy most days.

Our IOP centers around the delivery of Exposure and Response Prevention (ExRP), the gold-standard treatment approach for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Primary provider therapy sessions and individual exposure therapy sessions together largely facilitate the delivery of EXRP for OCD. Group therapy incorporates additional components to compliment EXRP for common difficulties faced by patients with moderate to severe OCD.  Examples of group content include psychoeducation on OCD and EXRP, family and loved one accommodation (ways in which family members and loved ones take part in the performance of rituals, avoidance of anxiety-provoking situations, or modification of daily routines), DBT skills and mindfulness, support groups, exposure processing, CBT for insomnia basics and sleep tips, motivational interviewing, and behavioral activation to target comorbid depressive symptoms.

What does the schedule look like?

The IOP is a daily treatment program delivered in a fully virtual format that consists of approximately 4 hours per day of treatment 5 days per week for 6 weeks. IOP hours run between 9am-3pm. Each patient is assigned a primary provider (licensed clinical psychologist) as the head of their treatment team. This primary provider meets with the patient each day of the IOP. The exact timing of each component of the schedule varies for each patient, but includes the following:

  • Group Therapy: 1 hour slot, 9-10am, 4 days per week
  • Individual Therapy: 1 hour slot, scheduled between 10am-3pm, 5 days per week
  • Exposure Therapy: Two 1 hour slots, scheduled between 10am-3pm, 5 days per week

Are family and loves ones involved in the IOP?

Yes! A select number of IOP groups welcome IOP patients to invite their loved ones/family to join for support and psychoeducation about OCD, EXRP, and  accommodation (ways in which family members and loved ones take part in the performance of rituals, avoidance of anxiety-provoking situations, or modification of daily routines). Other ways to involve loved ones and family can be discussed on a case-by-case basis.

Who provides the treatment?

The director of the IOP, Danielle Cooper, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at CTSA and an expert in anxiety-related disorders including OCD and PTSD. She began the IOP for OCD at CTSA to help increase access to higher levels of care for individuals suffering with OCD. Dr. Cooper oversees the IOP program and is involved in many aspects of the delivery of care, supervision, consultation, program development, and administration.

The rest of the treatment team for the IOP consists of CTSA faculty, staff, residents, and doctoral-level trainees.

Specifically, each patient is assigned a primary provider, a licensed clinical psychologist at CTSA, as the head of their treatment team. The primary provider meets with the patient each day of the IOP. Group therapy is provided by post-doctoral fellow at CTSA. Individual exposure therapy slots are delivered by doctoral student trainees and residents with advanced training and supervision in the delivery of EXRP for OCD.

How does the IOP compare to standard outpatient EXRP for OCD at CTSA?

Whereas standard outpatient EXRP for OCD at CTSA  is typically completed with one individual provider in 15-20 once or twice weekly individual therapy sessions that are roughly 90 minutes each, the IOP is a daily treatment program that consists of approximately 4 hours per day of individual and group treatment 5 days per week for 6 weeks and includes extra time for additional exposures with providers and beneficial add on treatment components to compliment EXRP.

What makes CTSA’s IOP different from other programs?

The CTSA at University of Pennsylvania is an internationally recognized research and clinical facility that offers evidence-based treatment programs for anxiety and related disorders. Founded in 1979 by Dr. Edna B. Foa, developer of Exposure and Response Prevention (ExRP), and directed by Dr. Lily Brown, the CTSA's highly skilled providers have been intensively trained and supervised in the most effective and efficient delivery of ExRP.

Intensive outpatient programs for OCD are unfortunately quite rare. Our hope with making our IOP fully virtual is to increase access to higher levels of care for those in the community throughout all of PA, NJ, and DE. A fully virtual program will not only increase access to care but will also decrease other costs associated with lodging and transportation often associated with temporary relocating for participation in intensive treatment programs.  Moreover, a fully remote program allows more flexibility for scheduling, increases access to those with restrictions getting to a doctor’s office, and requires less time out of the day for commuting.

In addition, telehealth for OCD allows for the opportunity to practice exposures with providers in the community and in the patient’s own home environment where the OCD “lives”. Working in the patient’s own environment via telehealth will provide extra opportunities to work with where obsessions and compulsions are most readily triggered. This will help patients practice applying their skills in their daily life throughout the program and make the transition to graduating from the IOP more seamless and less daunting.

Finally, compared to other IOP programs nationwide:

  • CTSA’s IOP program utilizes more experienced providers for each service (individual sessions are delivered by licensed clinical psychologists, group therapy is delivered by postdoctoral fellows, exposure therapy sessions are, at a minimum, provided by doctoral level trainees with advanced training and regular ongoing supervision in EXRP for OCD). Most other IOP programs utilize bachelor’s level coaches to assist with exposure sessions and master’s level providers in other primary roles. 
  • CTSA's IOP provides more clinical care. Our program meets 4 hours per day most days for 5 days per week, whereas many other IOP programs meet for 3 hours per day 5 days per week.

What insurances do you accept?

Our program currently accepts Quest and Aetna insurances only. We are not participating providers for any Medicare or Medicaid insurances. All other participants must pay out-of-pocket.

What are the out-of-pocket program costs?

The out-of-pocket cost for the IOP is $1,000 per day. The total cost ($1,000 per day x5 days per week for 6 weeks) is $30,000.

If you are paying out-of-pocket and plan to seek reimbursement from your insurance carrier, you will be required to seek a pre-authorization before starting the treatment program. We are happy to work with you to provide the necessary information your insurance company requires for this pre-authorization. Reimbursement for services is not guaranteed by CTSA as this decision is ultimately between you and your insurance carrier. Pre-authorization paperwork must be submitted to CTSA at least one week before the start of the IOP.

Does the IOP provide opportunities for training for mental health professionals?

Yes! As a part of University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine, CTSA is committed to and passionate about training and supervision.  The IOP provides training opportunities to psychiatry residents, clinical psychology pre-doctoral interns, and post-doctoral fellows, as well as to doctoral students through the formal IOP Practicum and CTSA’s standard outpatient practicum. All trainees complete an intensive EXRP for OCD workshop and receive ongoing supervision by licensed clinical psychologists during their training at CTSA. Please contact IOP director, Dr. Danielle Cooper, at Danielle.cooper@pennmedicine.upenn.edu with questions about available training opportunities.


If you are a patient who is interested in the IOP for OCD, the first step is to complete our New Patient Questionnaire for Adults 18 and over. The IOP is not open to individuals under the age of 18.


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