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About our Adolescent IOP Program for Anorexia Nervosa
Our IOP program for adolescents (ages 12-18) with anorexia nervosa is based on Family-Based Treatment (FBT) for eating disorders. FBT is the gold-standard and most evidence-based approach for the treatment of anorexia nervosa and restrictive eating in adolescents. FBT is a weight restoration treatment that empowers caregivers to take charge of their child’s treatment. Intensive treatment allows for potentially greater gains in weight restoration and psychological benefits in a shorter amount of time. Intensive treatment may also be appropriate when clients do not have resources closer to home, or the travel needed for outpatient therapy for an extended period is not possible. In these cases, IOP may be a better choice than standard outpatient treatment.
Research suggests that gains made within the first 4 weeks of FBT are predictive of better longer-term outcomes. Thus, the goal of our IOP is to provide gains measured by a ~1-2 lb increase in weight weekly and improvements in self-report outcomes measures, in order to facilitate faster recovery from eating disorders. Eating disorder IOP services at EBTCS differ from many IOP programs that are provided in hospital or residential facilities. These programs are typically licensed within a hospital and consist largely of group therapy. Our IOP services are conducted in the same office setting as our standard outpatient services, and involve highly tailored services, including twice-weekly family sessions with a primary therapist, as well as several specialized groups created by our expert clinicians.
Components of our IOP program
• Individualized treatment plan for each adolescent and family
• 9 hours/week of treatment (3 hours/day on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays)
• Family therapy with a primary psychologist certified in FBT
• Family Meal Group facilitated by a psychologist certified in FBT
• Teen Strategies Group for adolescents, informed by CBT and DBT
• Parenting Strategies Group for parents, informed by CBT and DBT
• Joint psychoeducation group for adolescents and parents
• Support group for parents
• Support group for adolescents
• Additional services (e.g., psychiatry services) if needed
• Weekly outcomes monitoring to track progress over time
Most families will have to take some time off from regular activities during the IOP program. In our experience, this tends to be necessary even in once-weekly outpatient treatment because of the seriousness of eating disorders.
The alternative to FBT for anorexia nervosa is often residential treatment, which consists of several weeks or months of treatment in a residential facility. Our intensive outpatient services offer a 9 hour/week commitment that may be more feasible for some families than residential treatment. Although residential treatment is sometimes necessary, the first-line treatment for anorexia when the adolescent is medically stable, as recognized by both the research and clinical community, is outpatient FBT.
In our experience, it is preferable for both caregivers to participate as actively as possible in FBT. Spouses learning together and supporting one another is a very beneficial part of the treatment.
Separated households are encouraged to have both parents or sets of parents in attendance.
Siblings are not a necessary component of the IOP program. However, it can be very helpful to have them join for portions of the program.