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Intensive Outpatient Program

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By Angie Best-Boss, Contributing Writer

There is no “one size fits all” model for treating people with eating disorders. People with eating disorders may have a variety of different reasons for their illness – biological, emotional to environmental. In the same way, treating eating disorders usually requires a team approach – with assistance from counselors, psychologists, dieticians, nutritionists, and other specialists.

IOP, or intensive outpatient program, is a form of partial psychiatric hospitalization. IOP is more intense than weekly outpatient therapy and less intense than inpatient hospitalization. IOP clients come for therapy several days per week for several hours at a time.

An important part of the intensive outpatient program is group work. Attending an eating disorder support group may help the person with an eating disorder feel less alone and ashamed. Usually run by a mental health professional, support groups are composed of peers who can provide a safe environment to share experiences, advice, encouragement, and coping strategies. Group counseling involves educating the group on family dynamics, dependency, stress management, nutrition, women's issues, depression, feelings, sexuality and assertiveness; as well as using a mix of therapeutic devices.

Intensive Outpatient Programs are usually shorter in duration than full Partial Hospitalization Programs.

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