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Intensive Family Therapy (IFT) for Adolescents with Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is often a chronic disorder, with symptoms lasting many years, or even a lifetime. Early intervention is associated with improved outcomes. When a child 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 purpose of this treatment is NOT to blame the parents.

Rather we teach parents the tools necessary to understand and successfully manage their child with AN at home. In addition, we teach adolescents with AN how to understand the symptoms that they are having and develop more effective coping strategies.

We believe the UC San Diego Health System Intensive Family Therapy (IFT) Program for treatment of anorexia nervosa will benefit not only the ill child, but also the entire family, with improved understanding, communication, and capacity for growth.

Components of the program

Many families cannot find AN experts in their local communities, nor can they afford long term out-of-pocket inpatient care. In order to meet their needs we developed a one-week intensive treatment program for adolescents with AN and their families. Optimally, parents, the patient and siblings take part in the program, which lasts from Monday through Friday and involves approximately 40 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 5 days incorporate a number of treatment components including medical examination, psychiatric evaluation, Maudsley based family therapy, systemic family therapy, contracting, Psychoeducation, parent coaching, carers sessions, individual psychotherapy, and cognitive behavioral therapies.

  • Comprehensive Medical and Psychological Assessment
  • Psychoeducation (AN-101)
  • Maudsley Family Therapy
  • Discharge Planning
  • Systemic Family Therapy
  • Behavioral Family Therapy
  • Parent Coaching
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies
  • Behavioral Contracting
  • Meditation and Relaxation
  • Individual Psychotherapy
  • Carers Sessions
  • Communication

Family Accommodations

Families usually fly in on Sunday before the treatment week and stay at a hotel within walking distance from our building. We can help with all information regarding local hotels and accommodations.

Medical Assessment

In most cases, we will require that the asolescent be seens by one of our local pediatricians with expertise in eating disorders upon arrival to confirm medical stability. This is typically done Monday morning of the treatment week. In other cases, we may require a letter from your local pediatricians documenting medical stability for an outpatient level of care.

For additional program information please contact us at 858-534-8019