Children's Hospital Colorado

Eating Disorders Day Treatment Program

Dedicated to making a positive impact in the lives of children and adolescents by expanding the reach of evidence-based, family-focused mental health care.



What is the Eating Disorders Day Treatment Program?

The Eating Disorders Day Treatment Program is designed for individuals who need increased support and structure in the process of recovery, but do not need overnight or 24-hour supervision. Most families participate in the Day Treatment Program for an average of 4 to 5 weeks. The program is available seven days a week and is divided into two sections: extended day treatment from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and regular day treatment from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

What to expect from the Day Treatment Program

Therapeutic activities

The Day Treatment Program focuses on developing healthy coping skills in the process of recovery and gaining insight into the factors contributing to the eating disorder. The program emphasizes family participation. Tuesday and Thursday are family intensive days, with multifamily group at 10:30 a.m. and multifamily lunch at noon, followed by parent group at 1 p.m.

The day program includes groups and activities related to daily goal setting, interpersonal effectiveness and communication, emotional awareness, identification of values and application to value-driven behavior, peer and societal influences, self-awareness particularly as it relates to family and peer relationships. In addition, skills-based groups allow patients to gain awareness into their existing coping skills and explore how motivation and readiness to change relate to effectively implementing cognitive skills and mindfulness strategies to reduce distress and cope with depression, anxiety and perfectionism.

Individual and family therapy, along with psychiatric assessment, continue in all levels of care. The Day Treatment Program also integrates creative arts therapy, such as music, art, dance/movement and yoga therapies.

Medical check-up

When patients arrive each day, they have a medical check-in with the nurse. Medical problems are closely monitored and addressed by the Adolescent Medicine Team.

Nutrition therapy

The core of our approach to treatment is called "parent-supported nutrition" and includes approaches from family-based therapy (FBT, also known as the Maudsley approach). Parents work closely with our dietitian to plan meals and manage approaches to nutrition at home, while their child is in the program.

Through the program, families learn skills to support their child's nutrition needs during the recovery process. Patients also meet with a dietitian to address distortions about nutrition and health that often dominate their thoughts and influence eating behaviors.

Because meal time can be difficult for our patients and families, meals and snacks are provided in a therapeutic setting with staff support and supervision. Treatment includes a focus on opportunities to learn and practice balancing healthy nutrition and exercise. We address healthy leisure skills, appropriate use of exercise and alternatives to excessive exercise as a coping skill.