Understanding Levels of Care: PHP vs. IOP for Eating Disorder Treatment

Understanding Levels of Care: PHP vs. IOP for Eating Disorder Treatment

Understanding the different levels of care when seeking out eating disorder treatment is essential to making an informed decision about what type of care is best for you. But trying to decode the many acronyms used in a treatment setting can feel overwhelming.

We will explore the unique benefits that partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) and intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) have to offer and break down the differences in the levels of care they deliver.

PHP vs. IOP for Eating Disorder Treatment

Both PHP and IOP require that clients are medically stable to qualify for this level of care but start to differentiate regarding the frequency of attendance, the number of interventions needed, and the level of meal supervision required.1

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

As a day treatment program (DTP), PHP is a step down from residential treatment. It retains the same daily therapeutic interventions, nutritional support, medication management, and meal supervision as a residential program but allows the client to return home each night. Eating disorder treatment facilities typically offer PHPs 5-7 days a week, 6-8 hours daily.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

IOP is a part-time program and a step down from PHP. Once clients can consistently implement a solid foundation and maintain recovery, they can progressively decrease the time spent in treatment while enjoying increasing levels of independence and flexibility.

Because clients only spend a few hours a day in the program and may even be able to attend virtually in some facilities, they can return to daily activities, such as work and school. Eating disorder treatment facilities typically offer IOPs 3-5 days a week for 3-5 hours daily.

Duration of PHPs and IOPs

The length of treatment needed is highly individual and depends on many factors:

  • Severity or length of the eating disorder
  • Co-occurring disorders (substance abuse, depression, anxiety)
  • Access to family or community support
  • Level of independent functioning and progress made
  • Insurance coverage or alternative funding options available

Generally, a PHP can last 4-6 weeks, while an IOP may last 8-12 weeks. However, it is best to discuss these options with your healthcare team and determine the duration of support required to maintain your recovery.

Eating Disorder Treatments Offered in PHPs and IOPs

PHPs and IOPs offer a variety of specialized treatments, such as medical and nutritional supervision, diverse psychological therapies, support groups, expressive therapies, and family-based therapy for adolescent clients.

Shoreline’s PHP provides comprehensive and structured programming by offering consistent care throughout the day:

  • Meal and medication supervision
  • Visits with a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner and Dietician
  • DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy)
  • CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy)
  • Individual, group, and family-based therapies
  • Expressive and interpersonal therapies
  • Yoga and stretching

Shoreline’s IOP provides ongoing support and flexibility for those with a solid foundation of skills as they return to everyday life.

Weekly support includes the following:

  • Psychotherapy sessions
  • Individual nutrition counseling
  • DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy)
  • CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy)
  • ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy)
  • Follow-up goals support group
  • Expressive therapies

Benefits of PHPs and IOPs for Treating Eating Disorders

Both PHP and IOP are outpatient options that provide a multitude of benefits:

  • Highly individualized care.
  • Increasing levels of independence and flexibility based on the reduction or absence of ED behaviors and symptoms
  • Confidence building by integrating treatment skills in the home environment
  • A gradual return to everyday activities, such as work or school, with the least amount of disruption possible while still receiving ongoing support
  • Opportunities to troubleshoot stumbling blocks or celebrate successes in real-time with a supportive community filled with individuals who are also on their recovery journey

Cost of PHPs and IOPs for Eating Disorder Treatment

The cost of PHPs and IOPs can vary widely depending on the facility and level of care provided. An IOP costs less than a PHP because of the significant reduction in time spent at the facility and the amount of care, interventions, and supervision provided.

A generalized estimate of care for an IOP could be around $1,500 per week (2), while a PHP could be almost double that, depending on how many days a week the client spends at the facility and the level of care provided.

If you are considering eating disorder treatment, you can fill out our contact form or give us a call at 562-434-6007 and allow our compassionate staff here at Shoreline to support you on your next steps toward recovery. We can also help you navigate the insurance or payment options available to access the care you deserve.


  1. Muhlheim, L. (2022, April 7). Which Level of Eating Disorder Treatment Is Right for Me?: From Hospitalization to Outpatient. VeryWellMind. https://www.verywellmind.com/levels-of-eating-disorder-treatment-4134267
  2. Muhlheim, L. (2022, April 30). How Much Does Eating Disorder Treatment Cost? VeryWellMind.

Author Bio:
Lara Scriba has been a Registered Nurse since 2002 with a background in emergency, community, public, and home health care, while also enjoying working as a travel nurse in both the US and Canada. She currently specializes in eating disorder recovery as a yoga teacher and Eat Breathe Thrive facilitator, is a reiki practitioner, and member of the AHNA.