The Highlands Eating Disorder Treatment Center

Our Eating Disorder Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

The Highlands eating disorder intensive outpatient program, also called an IOP, is a level of care that clients enter after completing a higher level of care (such as residential treatment or partial hospitalization programs) or when clients need a higher level of care than general outpatient treatment can provide. Located at our state-of-the-art treatment offices in Birmingham, our highly regarded IOP provides a fully-structured individual/group program, and a completely unique flex program. Our more flexible program is for clients who are struggling with less severe (but no less life-affecting) eating disorder symptoms, and require professional therapy, but need to work around part-time work or school schedules. Group therapy and peer support are still extremely important, and flex clients are encouraged to take part in some group therapy sessions and activities.

See a Sample of our Intensive Outpatient Schedule Here

Each client continues or develops a close therapeutic relationship with the primary therapist, primary dietitian, a family therapist and a psychiatrist. Each of our clinicians are highly educated and skilled, with experience in multiple specialties within the eating disorder field.

The Highlands Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program

As clients begin to develop insight into eating disorder behaviors, and the emotions and underlying reasons behind them, they are more ready to take on increased independence and less structure. Our skilled professional therapists and dietitians continue to provide fully individualized care approaches that reflect where a client currently is, and help them move even closer to full recovery. Compassion and encouragement remain important parts of this level of care, but accountability is also key. Men and women with all types of eating disorders and co-occurring disorders may take part in our IOP, as long as they do not require daily medical monitoring, and are in general able to function with this level of structure. The Highlands expert eating disorder intensive outpatient program allows clients to attend daily therapy on the weekdays or weekends, while still rejoining normal work, school, social and volunteer activities. Resuming a more normal daily life allows frequent opportunities for real life eating behavior and socialization experiences, yet with the safety net of close continued support and supervision by the client’s primary therapist and dietitian. Clients who step down to our intensive outpatient program from our partial hospitalization program keep the same primary therapist and dietitian. This therapeutic relationship provides a seamless continuum of care. Clients in our partial hospitalization program (PHP) who step down into IOP also have the option to remain in our therapeutic community apartments, however housing is not included in the IOP daily treatment rate. Others commute from home for their IOP treatment. Remaining in the therapeutic living community provides extra support as a normalized daily routine is regained.

IOP Treatment Weekly Overview

The Highland’s recovery-centered IOP is offered for up to four days a week, for four hours each day. Treatment components in our intensive outpatient program include:
  • Two weekly 1:1 sessions with primary therapist
  • Weekly 1:1 session with primary dietitian, depending on individual needs
  • One biweekly 1:1 session with family therapist
  • Weekly session with staff psychiatrist, or as personally scheduled with private psychiatrist (this is a requirement of IOP, since most clients remain on medication to control co-occurring issues such as anxiety or depression)
  • Registered Nurse monitoring as needed
  • Two group sessions daily
  • One monitored meal and one snack daily, with post-meal processing discussion
  • Family support and therapy
  • Weekly staff supported off-site eating behavior skill development
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Eating Disorder Intensive Outpatient Program Aftercare Support

Once clients have successfully completed The Highlands eating disorder intensive outpatient program, and are able to function well with minimal daily support and supervision, outpatient treatment is the next step in eating disorder treatment. While we don’t have a formal outpatient therapy program at The Highlands, some of our primary therapists have private practice offices within our treatment center, so local clients are often able to maintain an outpatient therapeutic relationship with their PHP and IOP primary therapist. Clients who are returning to their home outpatient therapy team can rest assured that The Highlands has remained in touch with them during PHP and IOP. This communication provides a seamless continuum of individualized care as clients return home. Aftercare planning is initiated from the beginning during the PHP and IOP phases, with both client and family needs taken into consideration. Families are well-prepared to positively support their loved one in recovery before they return home. This is a critical phase of the treatment process. Because it is important to the entire Highlands Treatment Team to support each of our clients, we provide a structured 6 month follow up program, to address any concerns or problems that may come up in this critical period of recovery. Our growing alumni group provides extra resources and recovery support for clients. We are always delighted to see former clients, and see how regaining their health and happiness has changed their lives.

Each client at Castlewood works closely with a primary team comprised of a therapist, dietitian, and staff psychiatrist. Castlewood believes that treating the medical, therapeutic, and nutritional issues of each client at the same time will provide stronger, more effective recovery.