Eating disorder intensive outpatient treatment (IOP) consists of structured individual and group therapy sessions for individuals with an eating disorder who are able to function in society without intensive monitoring. Individuals may have already completed a more intense program such as an eating disorder residential treatment program or an eating disorder partial hospitalization program or have a new eating disorder diagnosis that is not severe enough to qualify for these intensive higher-level of care programs.
Eating disorder intensive outpatient treatment can be offered to adolescent females, adolescent males, adult females and adult males and each of these populations can be separated or combined depending on the specific treatment center. In general, adolescent programs are separated from adult programs to ensure the best available therapy and safety. A typical intensive outpatient treatment program (IOP) requires individuals to have at least nine hours of therapy per week, which is usually a combination of group or individual therapy. In general, these nine hours of treatment are divided up into three-hour sessions three evenings to five evening a week for 12-16 weeks duration. Once this 12-16 week program is successfully completed, the individual may step down into a maintenance eating disorder therapy group or eating disorder outpatient treatment team on a regular outpatient basis that may meet once per week. The average group size for an eating disorder intensive outpatient treatment program is eight-15 individuals. Additionally, the cost for this type of program is generally much more affordable than residential treatment or partial hospitalization treatment. Just like any other level of care, a highly qualified therapist performs a thorough individual screening and assessment evaluation to evaluate whether intensive outpatient care is appropriate or if a higher-level of care is needed.