Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP) is a level of treatment for those struggling with an eating disorder. There are several benefits of IOP treatment one being it is considered an effective step-down option to full or partial hospitalization.
Generally, people that are referred to an eating disorder IOP are those that have either completed residential treatment and are working on reintegration or those that do not or no longer require medically supervised treatment.
IOP programs allow the individual to engage in part-time yet intensive eating disorder treatment and generally involves medication management services, group therapy, individual therapy, and possibly, family therapy.
These services do not involve the individual staying at the hospital, but instead, has them attending treatment for approximately 30 hours a week and then either returning to temporary housing or home.
Reintegration after Residential Eating Disorder Treatment
This treatment level can be very helpful for those that have engaged in residential treatment for anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder and are concerned about reintegrating back into their previous environment.
It can be daunting to go from full or partial hospitalization for eating disorder treatment to outpatient treatment, as the level of oversight is so drastically reduced.
Intensive Out Patient Treatment offers a comforting middle-ground in these circumstances, allowing the individual frequently to feel connected to their treatment team as they navigate this transition.
Self-Confidence in Eating Disorder Recovery
Other benefits of IOP treatment is the step-down support during reintegration. Sufferers can build their confidence in themselves and their recovery from an eating disorder.
Instead of feeling as if they were thrown into the deep end of a pool, they can gradually wade into unknown waters. This allows them to learn that they are capable of recovery and freedom from their eating disorder while still having support should they need guidance.
Daily Life Experience in Intensive Outpatient Treatment
One of the most essential benefits of IOP treatment is that it affords the person the chance to engage with their previous lifestyles, such as jobs, family, or home environment while still receiving the support they need.
Most individuals are able to work or attend school as they engage in IOP treatment. The pressures that can come with these daily life activities can be overwhelming, especially as we adjust them to fit our recovery. Knowing that we still have a chunk of time set aside to process, this can be comforting.
Lower Cost of Eating Disorder Treatment
A more logistical benefit of IOP treatment is that it is less costly than full or partial hospitalization.
In fact, in many cases, it can be half as costly as more intensive treatments .
This might make treatment more accessible for more people and also help in insurance companies agreeing to cover treatment.
Ultimately, one of the best benefits of IOP treatment is that it is proven to be successful. Many studies have shown that more than half of the people studied showed improvement in their recovery .
Resources: Lamagna, M. (2018). The unexpected costs of eating disorders. Retrieved from https://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-unexpected-costs-of-eating-disorders-2018-03-01.  Grave, R. D., Pasqualoni, E., Calugi, S. (2008). Intensive outpatient cognitive behavior therapy for eating disorder. Psychological Topics, 17:2, 313-327.
About the Author:
Margot Rittenhouse, MS, PLPC, NCC is a therapist who is passionate about providing mental health support to all in need and has worked with clients with substance abuse issues, eating disorders, domestic violence victims, and offenders, and severely mentally ill youth.
As a freelance writer for Eating Disorder Hope and Addiction Hope and a mentor with MentorConnect, Margot is a passionate eating disorder advocate, committed to de-stigmatizing these illnesses while showing support for those struggling through mentoring, writing, and volunteering. Margot has a Master’s of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Johns Hopkins University.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective on eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Published July 24, 2019, on EatingDisorderHope.com
Reviewed & Approved on July 24, 2019, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC