Treatment for eating disorders varies depending on the severity of the issue.  The most common and effective form of treatment is psychotherapy or counseling coupled with medical and nutritional intervention from a medical doctor and registered dietitian. Usually this type of treatment is done on an outpatient basis, but depending on the severity, the patient may be referred to a higher level of care. Below are explanations of the various levels of care in the treatment of eating disorders.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment is often where the recovery process begins.  Outpatient treatment usually consists of a team of health care providers such as a psychologist/therapist, dietitian, physician, and psychiatrist. Outpatient treatment is done while the patient lives at home and attends appointments at their provider's office. It is very important that your treatment team be knowledgable in the treatment of eating disorders. For outpatient providers in the Central Florida area, please see our member listing.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

An Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) is a step up in care from outpatient treatment.  IOP will typically take place at one location at a treatment center or hospital and patients will attend two to five times per week for at least two to three hours at a time. IOP usually follows a specific schedule that usually includes group therapy, nutritional therapy, family therapy, structured and supported meals, and other experiential activities as well as other types of therapy.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) is usually called day treatment because the patient will attend treatment during the day and return home at night. PHP will take place at a treatment center or hospital and the patient will attend five to seven days a week for about six to eight hours a day. Day treatment programs will offer individual therapy, nutritional therapy, family therapy, group counseling, experiential therapy, and will usually provide one to two structured and support meals. PHP is usually offered as a step down from residential treatment to provide the patient with extra support as they transition back into their normal life.

Residential Treatment

Residential treatment is 24 hour care/supervision for those who are medically stable but who are engaging in eating disorder behaviors severe enough to warrant the intensive supervision.  This type of intensive supervision is necessary in order to help the patient stop his/her self-destructive eating disorder behaviors (i.e. self-induced vomiting, restrictive eating, compulsive exercise, etc.) that remain out of control.  Residential treatment consists of structured program which includes individual therapy, group therapy, nutritional therapy, psychiatric care, experiential therapies, and structured and supported meal times. In residential treatment a patient can stay anywhere from 30 to 90 days. Medical insurance is usually a factor in how long a person is able to stay in residential treatment.

Inpatient Treatment

Acute inpatient hospitalization is the most intensive level of care. Inpatient treatment is necessary when a patient is medically and or psychiatrically unstable and needs immediate medical intervention. Once the patient has stabilized, the patient will then transfer to a residential treatment facility for ongoing care.

For more information on what factors determine the appropriate level of care, please visit:

Remember, it is necessary to complete an assessment by eating disorder professionals to confirm the appropriate level of care.