An Overview of Outpatient Eating Disorder Treatment
Outpatient treatment programs are designed to give patients the freedom they need to rediscover how to live without the burden of an eating disorder, and to obtain the skills and tools needed to reach a long-lasting recovery. Similar to other levels of care, outpatient programs provide specialized treatment and help create supportive communities where patients can effectively grow and recover. Outpatient eating disorder treatment provides more flexibility and freedom than residential treatment, allowing patients to take more ownership of their recovery and progress outside of a controlled environment.
As part of outpatient treatment, you’ll have access to a multidisciplinary team that is focused on your individualized treatment. Team members may consist of therapists, psychiatrists, and dietitians. This team will provide the necessary support and guidance needed to handle real-life situations and stressors.
In regards to the breadth of treatment, you’ll find that outpatient programs are largely provided for all eating disorders, including:
Outpatient Eating Disorder Programs
As individuals continue to progress in treatment, they will have the opportunity to transition to programs with less structure. Outpatient eating disorder programs are designed to teach clients how to practice new coping skills within the real world. Listed below are two different types of outpatient programs that are offered.
Partial Hospitalization Program
Partial hospitalization programs are less involved than residential, yet more involved than general or intensive outpatient. Partial hospitalization eating disorder treatment typically provides the same level of intensity and structure as residential treatment, but more exposure to a less controlled environment. While patients will stay at the facility for most of the day, they will return home at night. Therefore, patients do not live at the facility. PHP typically includes a mix of individual, group, and family therapies, as well as additional support and counseling. For patients that have recently graduated from a residential level of care, this may be a good transition option.
Intensive Outpatient Program
Intensive outpatient programs are less involved than partial hospitalization and residential, yet more “intensive” than general outpatient. Intensive outpatient eating disorder treatment is individualized based on the person’s needs, circumstances, and progress – therefore, care may look different for each person. IOP is popular for individuals who need more support than standard outpatient treatment.
Just like standard outpatient care, though, IOP offers a lot of flexibility. Our intensive outpatient programs is three days per week, allowing you to work, go to school, and attend to external obligations as needed.
Depending on the person, their circumstances, and the level of care required, different therapies may be recommended, whether it be in-person or virtual. Although individual and group therapies are the main focus, nutritional support may also be provided. Here, dieticians will help the individual incorporate healthy eating habits recently learned into their daily routine.
For further insight, some popular therapies are further outlined below:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – As the most effective therapy in treating an eating disorder, CBT helps individuals learn how to change their own perceptions and build self-esteem, resulting in an overall better relationship with food..
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – Typically performed in either a private or group setting, DBT provides individuals ample opportunities to build and improve relationships, better understand and regulate their emotions, and find ways to effectively cope with stress.
- Art Therapy – This type of therapy allows individuals to explore creative processes while building self-awareness and better developing cognitive function.
Overcoming an eating disorder is generally an ongoing process; that’s why in most cases, aftercare assistance and alumni programs are typically provided. This allows individuals to continue to connect with others in a supportive environment, helping them maintain a healthy way of living even after finishing treatment.
Determining If Outpatient Treatment Is Right For You
Determining if outpatient care is needed typically depends on a variety of factors including the severity of your illness, your circumstances, insurance coverage, and more. If you believe that you can make significant progress on an outpatient basis – and do not need to take medication or be monitored – then an outpatient treatment program may work well for you. Additionally, if you’ve recently graduated from a higher level of care, such as residential or partial hospitalization, outpatient therapy may be considered here as well.