Pediatric Programs

boy refusing to eat

We treat children with Anorexia Nervosa (AN), Bulimia Nervosa (BN), Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), and Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED), a category that includes subclinical eating disorders and atypical eating disorders (e.g., purging disorder, weight loss complicated by functional gastro-intestinal disorders). Each individual receives a comprehensive evaluation that determines their individualized treatment plan.

As a university-based program, we provide state-of-the-art treatments based on research and new understandings of eating disorders. Genetic vulnerabilities to anxiety, obsessive and perfectionistic traits predispose individuals to develop eating disorders. These traits can be modified through new coping strategies, to allow these traits to become assets rather than liabilities.

Philosophy and Treatment Approach

We believe that eating disorder behaviors are complex conditions that are caused by many factors, including biological causes. Researchers have identified specific neurobiological differences in the brains of people with eating disorders that affect how they eat, how they make decisions, and the emotions they experience. 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. There is clear evidence that eating disorders run in families and have a strong genetic component.

Sometimes people have the mistaken belief that individuals with eating disorders are “choosing” to have an eating disorder or doing it for attention, etc. We firmly believe that eating disorder behaviors have a function or purpose (even if it is not clear) and often develop as a way for people to cope with unwanted or unpleasant emotions. Thus, in order to recover from an eating disorder, patients need to learn other ways of coping with uncomfortable emotions. Our program’s foundation is Family Based Therapy (FBT; also known as the Maudsley approach). FBT is an evidence based treatment in which families play an active and positive role in order to help their child restore weight and return to normal, healthy eating patterns. FBT is widely considered to be the most efficacious treatment for adolescents with anorexia. Numerous studies have demonstrated the efficacy of FBT: approximately two-thirds of adolescent AN patients are recovered at the end of FBT while 75 - 90% are fully weight recovered at five-year follow-up. In this treatment approach, training families to be integrally involved in helping their child recover from an eating disorder is the backbone of treatment, and we also teach the child skills to regulate their emotions and challenge eating disordered thoughts. Our new pediatric program for children ages 13 and younger replicates the success of our adolescent program combining FBT with other treatment approaches in a safe, age-appropriate environment for children as young as 8.

In addition to Family Based Therapy, our program utilizes complimentary evidence based treatments to help our patients cope with their emotions, particularly anxiety, that often come up around eating and sometimes social situations. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), mindfulness, biofeedback, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) are used in group, family and individual therapy to introduce more effective coping skills for children and their families as they go through the process of treatment.

Treatment Programs

Patients in our program need more support and structure than can be provided by standard outpatient treatment, but are medically and psychiatrically stable enough to not require immediate hospitalization. We offer several levels of care, ranging from 3 day Intensive Outpatient (IOP) to 5 day 6-hr Partial Hospitalization Program.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) — 3 to 5 days/week

1 meal and 1 snack per day
1 day/week of family groups (includes parent training and family meal/snack)
1 hour/week of family therapy
1 meal and 1 snack per day
1 day/week of family groups (includes parent training and family meal/snack)
1 hour/week of family therapy
1 to 2 therapy groups per day 1 hour/week individual therapy Weight and vital signs obtained twice a week
  • HOURS: 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm
  • ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS: 3 hours of program, 3 to 5 days/week
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Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) — 3 to 5 days/week

  • PROGRAM INCLUDES

    1 meal and 1 snack per day
    1 to 2 therapy groups per day
    1 day/week of family groups (includes parent training and family meal/snack)
    1 hour/week individual therapy
    • 1 meal and 1 snack per day
    • 1 to 2 therapy groups per day
    • 1 day/week of family groups (includes parent training and family meal/snack)
    • 1 hour/week individual therapy
    • 1 hour/week of family therapy
    • Weight and vital signs obtained twice a week
    • HOURS: 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    • ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS: 3 hours of program, 3 to 5 days/week

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) — 6 hours/day, 5 days/week

  • Like a residential program, our Partial Hospitalization program (PHP) offers a structured environment with an intense focus on patients and families learning skills for recovery, but offers the important advantage of allowing the patient to continue living at home. This allows the patient and family to develop and hone skills for recovery and practice them in their home environment.
  • PROGRAM INCLUDES

    • 1 meal and 2 snacks per day
    • 2 therapy groups per day
    • 1 to 1.5 hour(s)/day of school time
    • 1 day/week of family groups (includes parent training and family meals/snacks)
    • 1 hour/week of individual therapy
    • 1 hour/week of family therapy
    • Weekly appointments with a dietitian
    • Weekly appointments with a psychiatrist
    • Weight and vital signs obtained 3 times/week
    • HOURS: 9:00 am - 3:00 pm, Monday - Friday
    • ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS: Some patients and their families are also encouraged to attend our Saturday adolescent program for additional support.

How does payment work?

The majority of our patients use insurance since we are contracted with many major insurance companies. Cash payments are also accepted.

Ahrha Ko

Insurance Verification Specialist
(858) 534-8019
edintake@ucsd.edu