Intensive Family Treatment Program

2018 ED-IFT sessions:

July 23rd-27th

August 20th-24th

September 24th-28th

October 22nd-26th

November 26th-30th

December 10th-14th


Program Overview

Eating disorders can have serious emotional, interpersonal, and medical consequences that can lead to hospitalization and greatly affect qualify of life. They can become chronic disorders and carry the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder. When an adolescent suffers from an eating disorder, they don’t suffer alone, as all members of the family and the relationships between them are profoundly impacted. Leading research shows that treatment is most successful when families are centrally involved in the treatment process. Our team at UCSF has led many research studies showing that families are the best resource to help adolescents recover from an eating disorder. We have spent decades developing, testing, and refining treatments that capitalize on family individual strengths in guiding their child through recovery.

The Intensive Family Treatment for Eating Disorders (ED-IFT) is designed for families who do not have access to specialty eating disorders treatment in their local communities or whose affected child is not progressing well in treatment. This program provides adolescents and their families with an immersive and intensive dose of treatment that is specifically designed to bring about rapid symptom change by providing families with a deeper understanding of eating disorders, developing strategies and teaching practical skills necessary to navigate various phases throughout the recovery process, and equipping adolescents and their families with more effective coping strategies. All family members are strongly encouraged to attend as each family member plays a critical role in supporting the adolescent’s recovery. The current program is based on the latest neuroimaging research and incorporates multiple modalities of treatment originally developed and refined at UCSD designed to bolster traditional family-based treatment (FBT). Treatment components include psychoeducation, multifamily therapy, parent management training, in-vivo interventions (e.g., meal coaching), behavioral contracting, and adolescent coping skills based in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).

The Intensive Family Therapy Program (IFT) was developed at the UC San Diego Eating Disorder Treatment and Research Center under the direction of Walter Kaye and in collaboration with Ivan Eisler, Roxie Rockwell, Stephanie Knatz-Peck, and ​colleagues. The program was originally developed in 2006 based on the family-based treatment model (FBT). UCSF team members Stuart Murray and Erin Accurso were involved in the development and running of this program during their training at UCSD. The program has undergone numerous evolutions based on expert input and groundbreaking advances in the field of adolescent eating disorders. The current program includes multiple modalities of treatment developed and refined at UCSD and designed to bolster traditional FBT including adolescent and parenting skills training, psychoeducation, in-vivo interventions, and multi-family therapy. Several outcome studies have been published demonstrating efficacy.  ​

Program Structure

This five-day intensive program runs from Monday to Friday and involves approximately 35 hours of intensive treatment for adolescents with eating disorders and their families. ED-IFT is conducted in a multi-family format with us to 6 families participating at a time. The multifamily treatment format fosters family-to-family support, learning, and a decreased sense of isolation that is not possible in traditional family therapy. Families who would benefit from additional treatment may also work with our team following ED-IFT.


Rockwell, R.E., Boutelle, K., Trunko, M. E., Jacobs, M. J., & Kaye, W. H. (2011). An innovative short-term, intensive, family-based treatment for adolescent anorexia nervosa: case series. European eating disorders review, 19(4), 362-367.

Knatz, S., Murray, S. B., Matheson, B., Boutelle, K. N., Rockwell, R., Eisler, I., & Kaye, W. H. (2015). A Brief, Intensive Application of Multi-Family-Based Treatment for Eating Disorders. Eating disorders, 23(4), 315-324.

Marzola, E., Knatz, S., Murray, S. B., Rockwell, R., Boutell, K., Eisler, I., & Kaye, W. H. (2015). Short-term intensive family therapy for adolescent eating disorders: 30-month outcome. European eating disorders review, 23(3), 210-218.