Eating Disorders Center for Treatment and Research

Adult Day Treatment

The UCSD Day Treatment Program for Eating Disorders is an intensive treatment program for individuals with Anorexia Nervosa (AN) or Bulimia Nervosa (BN) who:

This program is an alternative to inpatient or residential programs. Like a residential program, it offers a structured environment with an intense focus on learning skills for recovery, but offers the important advantage of allowing the patient to continue living at home. This allows the patient to develop and hone skills for recovery and practice them in their home environment.

We believe that eating disorder behaviors are based in emotion dysregulation. People with eating disorders often have temperaments that are predisposed to anxiety and depression, or have been exposed to stressful and traumatic life events that cause intense negative emotions. Eating disorder behaviors (1) represent attempts to cope with or control negative emotions, and (2) cause more negative emotions to develop because relationships become strained, eating becomes more difficult, energy level drops, etc. For these reasons, our program primarily uses the model of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). We intensively teach skills for dealing with emotions and help people to translate these skills to their lives outside of treatment. DBT skills have also been shown to be useful in the treatment of several disorders that often co-occur with eating disorders, including substance use, borderline personality disorder, and depression. Thus, our treatment approach can help patients who are dealing with complicated comorbidities.

Treatment Team is led by Dr. Mary Ellen Trunko, Dr. Julie Trim and Dr. Liana Abascal.

Apartment Option now available

UCSD Eating Disorders Center is excited to announce the new apartment available for Adult Day Treatment patients to use, while they are participating in treatment at the UCSD Eating Disorders Center. The apartment is available for appropriate patients at an affordable cost, enabling us to accommodate those coming from out of the San Diego area. Staying in the apartment will provide a supportive environment with recovery-oriented peers. To inquire about the apartment, please contact Christi Middlesworth at 858.534.8026 or

Treatment Components

Individual therapy: These sessions are scheduled once a week for 50 minutes. This gives patients time to process individual responses to treatment.

Group therapy: We have many groups available in the Day Treatment Program including: Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness Meditation, Motivational Enhancement Therapy, Psychoeducation, nutritional, and process groups

Psychiatric consultation:Each patient will be given a full psychiatric evaluation upon admission to the Day Treatment Program. Our psychiatrist will consult with the patient’s existing psychiatrist if they have one. In addition, our psychiatrist will coordinate medical care closely with the primary care physician, ensuring regular labs, vitals and general medical condition is monitored closely.

Art Therapy: This group provides patients with the opportunity to be less linear in their thinking. By drawing, painting, and expressing their feelings through art they can access hidden issues and learn how to uncover them in a supportive environment.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Therapy is offered in a group setting and offers patients the opportunity to work on their dysfunctional thoughts and beliefs. These beliefs can either support recovery or support the eating disorder. By changing the way that patients think about their self, body, food, relationships etc. recovery can be strengthened.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT): This group is designed to help patients learn how to regulate emotions and become better able to manage distress. Coping skills are taught by staff and homework is assigned.

Meals: Patients eat three meals a day and several snacks as a group. Meal plans are tailored to the individual by our registered dietician. Resuming regular eating is an integral part of recovering from an eating disorder, and our staff provides compassionate support for patients as they begin to work towards healthy eating habits.

Family/Couples Therapy: Individuals can bring in family members, partners, etc. for family therapy. Families are viewed as vitally important in the recovery of their son or daughter. Although families are not responsible for creating the eating disorder, their help is essential for the recovery of their family member.

Goal Setting: Each treatment day, patients engage in a goal setting process to help them continue their progress when at home. Goals are related to reducing eating disorder behaviors such as bingeing and purging or restricting. Patients are encouraged to set reasonable goals and get feedback from both staff and other patients.

Nutritional Services: The registered dietitian will meet with patients on a regular basis to provide them with a meal plan outside of program hours and encourage flexibility regarding food choices

Process group: This group is less structured than the other groups in order to provide a time for patients to bring up topics and issues of their choice. Group leaders provide a safe environment for patients to discuss personal issues.

Psychoeducation: Therapy is offered in a group setting and covers a variety of topics such as: role of dysregulated emotions in eating disorders, body image, anger management, stress management, and assertiveness.

When does the Day Treatment Program meet?

This program is a more intensive program for those who require more structure and supervision, including meal support, and meets from 9:00am to 7:00pm Monday through Friday and includes 3 meals and 1-2 snacks, plus a variety of evidence-based interventions.

A less intensive option meets 9:00am to 3:00pm or 12:00pm to 7:00pm and provides 2 meals and a snack, as well as evidence-based group and individual therapy.

Where is the program held?

The program is located within our clinic (see "Contact Us" on our homepage) in a separate suite from our Intensive Outpatient Program.

How does payment work?

Payment arrangements can be made by using insurance or cash payments.

Contact our Insurance Coordinator Christina Vizcarra at (858) 246-0997 or for an list of our contracted insurance companies or for any questions regarding insurance coverage.

Day Treatment Schedule