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Eating Disorder Program

University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics has been treating eating disorders for over four decades through evidence-based practices. Our multidisciplinary team includes dietitians, educational consultants, nurses, occupational therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, recreational therapists, pharmacists, music therapists, and social workers who work together to help individuals learn strategies to better cope with distress related to food, size, weight, and shape.

Comprehensive Care

Building a Support Network

A strong support network is crucial to a successful recovery and we invite families to be a part of the treatment process. The goals of family meetings are to improve communication and to provide information about eating disorders in hopes of assisting the patient's family and friends as they provide support through the recovery process.

Caring for the Mind and Body

Individuals who are diagnosed with eating disorders may also be struggling with psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression, or substance abuse in addition to medical conditions that often occur with these disorders. Our team will begin identifying various areas of concern before designing a treatment plan. We are one of the few places in the country with a medical psychiatry unit that addresses both mental and physical health concerns. We also have immediate access to a wide range of care, since we are housed in the state's only academic medical center.

Levels of Care

Inpatient Services

Treatment for an eating disorder sometimes requires hospitalization. Our team conducts a thorough physical and psychological assessment including a review of coping skills and family dynamics. A comprehensive treatment plan will then be designed to meet the individual’s unique needs.

Individuals in the inpatient unit who are getting adjusted to normal, healthy eating are closely supervised by our staff.

A typical day in the inpatient unit might include all or some combination of the following:

  • Psychotherapy groups
  • Family meeting
  • Meeting with social services to coordinate placement, if necessary
  • Meeting with an educational consultant
  • Meeting with a physician daily
  • Occupational therapy (plan, shop for, and prepare a meal)
  • Psychiatric education group
  • Recreational therapy (art therapy, music therapy, community outings, exercise education)
  • Supervised meals and snacks

Outpatient Services

Partial Hospital - Eating Disorder Track

Individuals on the Eating Disorder Track in the Partial Hospital participate in structured therapy programs during the day and spend nights and weekends at home. This program serves as a step-down from inpatient care and a step-up from outpatient care. Treatment may last from several weeks to a few months, depending on the clinical situation.

A typical day in the partial program might include all or some combination of the following:

  • Dietary guidance
  • Family meetings
  • Group therapy
  • Medication management
  • Occupational therapy
  • Recreational therapy
  • Supervised meals and snacks

Adult Psychiatry Clinic

We provide diagnosis evaluations by appointment to assess the appropriate level of care. Treatment options in an outpatient setting include individual therapy and medication management.

Relapse Prevention Groups

The Aftercare/Relapse Prevention groups meet weekly for 60 minutes. The groups are facilitated by social workers to assist patients in eating disorder recovery. Patients are required to have an individual outpatient therapist that they see regularly in order to be eligible for this group.

    Care Team