Eating Disorders Center for Treatment and Research

Adult Intensive Family Therapy Program

Program Description

Anorexia nervosa (AN) is often a chronic disorder with symptoms lasting many years or even a lifetime. When an individual suffers from the devastating illness of AN, all members of the family and the relationships between them are profoundly affected. Some of the latest research in the eating disorders field points to potentially unprecedented levels of success when families become centrally involved in the treatment process. The Adult Intensive Family Therapy Program (A-IFT) is one of the only programs available that focuses on involving carers in the treatment and recovery of individuals with AN.

AN develops as a result of a powerful biology that is difficult to overcome without the support and assistance from loved ones. Our model empowers carers to be involved in treatment to ensure successful recovery. Research suggests that enlisting support from loved ones can lead to better outcomes in recovery. If you or your loved one have failed to benefit from individually-focused treatments, a family-based model may improve your success.

The purpose of this unique treatment is to provide support members of persons with eating disorders (CARERS) with the understanding and the tools necessary to successfully interact with and care for their loved one at home using a family-based model. In addition, we teach adults with AN how to understand the symptoms that they are having and develop more effective coping strategies.

We believe the UCSD Adult Intensive Multi-Family Therapy Program for treatment of anorexia nervosa will benefit individuals suffering from AN in powerful ways that can only come about from family involvement. Additionally, the entire family will benefit from the improved understanding, communication, and capacity for growth that comes from attending the program.

Program Structure

The A-IFT program is designed for adults (18 -35 years old) with AN and their families. The program caters to individuals with AN and family members who are interested in learning effective skills and strategies for managing eating disorder symptoms in a collaborative manner. Optimally, parents, the patient, and spouse/significant other take part in the program, which lasts from Monday through Friday and involves approximately 30 hours of treatment. Most of the families do not live locally in San Diego. Families typically choose to stay in a local hotel or rent housing for the week.

The five days incorporate a number of treatment components including medical examination, psychiatric evaluation, family-based treatment for anorexia (FBT), systemic family therapy, contracting, psychoeducation, parent coaching, carers sessions, and cognitive behavioral therapies.

Family Accommodations

Families usually fly in the weekend before the treatment week and stay at a hotel within walking distance from our building. Nearby Hotels.

Medical Assessment

We may require a letter from your local physician documenting medical stability for an outpatient level of care. In most cases, we will not provide medical care or evaluation through our clinic, however, we can assist in making referrals to a physician and/or psychiatrist for additional treatment if needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

For additional program information please contact us at or (858) 534-8019.