The rise of COVID-19 has meant that people have had to adapt many aspects of their lives. This includes sweeping changes in how individuals access healthcare, as providers work hard to find ways to safely and effectively continue treating their patients.
Here at Walden, we launched virtual eating disorder treatment options including Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs) and Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs) 18 months ago, at the onset of the pandemic. With this shift in programming, we closely tracked outcome data to ensure we were still providing the high-quality care that our patients deserve. This data has indicated that the shift from in-person treatment to virtual programming has not had a negative effect on outcomes, and in fact improved metrics such as attendance rates and patient satisfaction.
Most PHP and IOP Programs are Still Virtual
While some of Walden’s clinics are now offering limited in-person meal support, the ‘new normal’ means that almost all of Walden’s PHP and IOP programs are still virtual. This includes the introduction of new programs that offer tailored treatment to specific groups of individuals.
One such program is a virtual IOP launching on October 4th, offering treatment and care for people of any gender aged 10-17, that are struggling with ARFID. This 10-week program will utilize a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for ARFID (CBT-AR) model specifically designed to treat patients with this diagnosis. Led by Walden’s Amanda Smith, LICSW, CEDS, the ARFID IOP team will include specially trained professionals, including a registered dietitian.
We are also pleased to continue offering Walden’s ‘Free to Be’ — an adult IOP tailored for patients with binge eating disorder (BED), emotional eating, compulsive eating, and food addiction. These groups meet online three days a week, during afternoons and evenings.
In addition, we recently relaunched our GOALS IOP — aimed at adult competitive athletes — a population that is disproportionately affected by Eating Disorders. While we have run in-person sessions for this community in the past, this is the first time they have taken place virtually. During the sessions, patients meet with Walden’s multidisciplinary expert team of counselors, sports psychologists, dietitians and exercise science professionals. The group meets three nights a week via our virtual platform and feedback indicates that clients have found it easier to fit treatment into their busy schedules.
As COVID-19 continues to lead to a rise in behavioral health issues, including Eating Disorders, it is crucial that providers find ways to deliver treatment in a safe and convenient way. Virtual programming has allowed Walden to continue offering our clients access to the high-quality care that they deserve.