Eating disorders are a group of illnesses characterized by abnormal eating habits. Symptoms often develop during teenage years or young adulthood but may appear at any point in life. We take a family-centered approach to eating disorders treatment.
Care at Children's
At Penn State Children’s Hospital, we believe the eating disorders healing process requires the support and collaboration of parents and caregivers, and we educate them to be directly involved in the child’s recovery and care.
Exposure and response prevention (ERP) is at the core of what we do in our young patient programs. This proven method of treating eating disorders involves encouraging patients to confront, rather than avoid, their fears. The aim is for patients to experience decreasing anxiety over time through ongoing exposure. This is practiced in a safe, supportive environment monitored and guided by compassionate medical professionals.
During a patient’s first visit, he or she will see the medical provider, who will collect a comprehensive history and perform a physical exam. Additional services may be ordered, such as lab work or an electrocardiogram (EKG). After a discussion with the family, the provider will make a recommendation on the appropriate level of treatment.
We offer different levels of care depending on the patient’s needs and personal circumstances.
Eating Disorder Outpatient Clinic
Outpatient clinic appointments are scheduled Monday through Friday to provide medical evaluation/management, nutritional management, and psychotherapy (individual, group, or family therapy). Psychiatric evaluation and treatment are provided if needed. Patients are seen on an ongoing basis for treatment until they have recovered from their eating disorder.
Intensive Outpatient Program
The Intensive Outpatient Program provides a structure of group sessions for three hours, three days per week.
The group sessions include:
- Psychoeducational groups
- Psychodynamic-oriented group therapy
- Meal-time group
In addition to weekly group sessions, each patient receives nutritional counseling and regular psychiatric and medical evaluations to assess progress.
Partial Hospitalization Program
The Partial Hospitalization Program meets five days a week, providing a more intensive structure for group therapy.
These group sessions include:
- Psychoeducational groups
- Psychodynamic oriented group therapy
- Yoga, music, art, and pet therapy
- Two meals a day and a snack
- Educational instruction (young patient program)
A personalized treatment plan - including individual, family, and group therapy - is designed to address each patient’s specific needs and goals. Psychiatric evaluation and medication are available as well as regular medical evaluations to assess progress.
Children and young patient program (ages 8 to 17): Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. during the school year and 7 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. during the summer.
Adolescent and adult program (age 17 and older): Monday-Thursday, noon-7 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m
Families who live at least one hour away are eligible to stay at the Ronald McDonald House, a block from the clinic.
Eating disorder treatment involves multidisciplinary care from many departments, including:
Our clinic is located at:
Penn State Medical Group - Briarcrest
Adolescent Medicine and Eating Disorders
905 W. Governor Road, Suite 200
Hershey, PA 17033
New evaluations are performed in Hershey and State College only.
Groups, Classes & Support
Support groups provide an opportunity to share your feelings and connect with other parents and caregivers who are experiencing similar struggles.
Learn more about pediatric support groups offered at Penn State Children’s Hospital.