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How an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) Can Support Your Eating Disorder Recovery

By Lee Neagle MA, LPC| 3 Min Read | June 28, 2024
Discover the valuable support through our IOP program and find lasting eating disorder recovery.

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs) offer valuable support to people facing eating disorders. By providing specialized care, structure, and a supportive community, an IOP program for eating disorder recovery plays a crucial role in fostering lasting healing and wellness. At Inner Haven Wellness, we’re often asked how our in-person IOP helps with eating disorder treatment compared to other models of care. 

To understand IOP programs for eating disorder treatment better, we can look through the lens of the medical model.

The goal is to have the least invasive and most effective treatment based on the presenting symptoms. Just as a doctor wouldn’t immediately recommend a cast for minor leg pain or spinal surgery for back pain, mental health care should aim to achieve the best outcomes with the least invasive methods, including for eating disorder recovery.

Levels of Care in Eating Disorder Treatment

To understand the benefits of IOP programs for eating disorders, we need to understand which levels of care are available in eating disorder treatment, ranging from least to most invasive.

  1. Outpatient: This level of care typically consists of individual weekly or biweekly sessions with a treatment professional. Total care per week is between 1-2 hours.
  2. Intensive Outpatient (IOP): This level of care typically meets 3-5 days per week for 3-4 hours a day. IOP programs are usually conducted in a group setting and will include things like meal and snack support to work toward eating disorder recovery. Total care per week is between 9-15 hours.
  3. Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP): Also known as day treatment, this level of care typically entails 5-7 days of treatment per week, lasting 5-8 hours per day. PHP includes meal, snack, medical, and nursing support.
  4. Residential (RTC): At this level, people live on site and receive clinical and nutritional supervision 24 hours per day.
  5. Inpatient Care (IP): Similar to RTC, this level of care requires the person to live on site, but IP is typically focused on acute medical interventions and may take place in a a locked unit.

Unsure if you or a loved one is suffering with an eating disorder? Take our quiz and one of our team members can review the results with you.

The Role of IOP in Eating Disorder Treatment

IOP offers two significant benefits for people seeking eating disorder recovery.

  1. Extra Support with Minimal Disruption: IOP provides extra support beyond traditional outpatient care, and allows people to still engage in their daily lives. The goal is to provide enough support to prevent the need for a higher level of care.
  2. Transition from Higher Levels of Care: IOP can also function as a step down from higher level care, like residential treatment or a day treatment program. As people progress in their recovery, IOP facilitates a smooth transition toward greater independence while still providing essential support.

IOPs play a crucial role in eating disorder recovery, as they offer essential support without disrupting daily life, and they facilitate a smooth transition towards greater independence.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder or would like more information about our IOP program for eating disorders, don’t hesitate to reach out to Inner Haven Wellness for professional help and guidance.

About The Author

Lee