Latest news | 11 Sep 2017

Early intervention at heart of new Youth Intensive Outpatient Program


11 September, 2017 – Butterfly Foundation, Australia’s leading national organisation for eating disorders, launches the Butterfly Intensive Outpatient Program for Young People (Youth IOP) today. The Youth IOP is a 10-week early intervention program which focuses on providing prevention strategies for anyone showing early signs and symptoms of an eating disorder and/or disordered eating.

Butterfly Foundation’s Chairman, David Murray AO, said the Youth IOP emphasises the critical importance Butterfly places on early intervention for young people and addresses a serious service gap in the community.

“Eating disorders are serious psychiatric disorders and without effective early intervention they can take a chronic course,” said Mr Murray. “Once entrenched they can impact every aspect of an individual’s life with serious long-term health and cost implications – for many they can be life threatening.”

The Youth IOP has a specific focus on 14 to 24-year-olds, with a key component being to instill the belief that full recovery from an eating disorder is possible.

Butterfly is focused on achieving significant health system reform for eating disorders treatment and support.

While government and private health are key factors to delivering on this commitment, there is a strong role for innovative funding support as seen in Butterfly’s partnership through funds manager Future Generation Global Investment (FGG).

“The Youth IOP was made possible due to the philanthropic support of FGG,” added Mr Murray.

“Their recognition of the need for early intervention and treatment of eating disorders sets a new direction for what can be achieved when philanthropic funds are purposefully matched in Australia”

The program incorporates the principles of US eating disorders expert Carolyn Costin, particularly the use of the ‘eating disorder self’ and ‘healthy self’ terminology.

It also recognises the important role the family plays in assisting with recovery.

This specialised program encourages a person to overcome obstacles that have interfered with their quality of life and is aimed at providing intensive support while enabling the individual to continue with school, university and/or work.

An important element of the 10-week closed group Youth IOP is that it addresses the core psychological and physiological factors of an eating disorder and supports early intervention through connections with appropriate referral sources such as dietitians, psychologists, schools, universities, TAFE and GPs in a collaborative approach that contributes to better outcomes.

The IOP approach is based on Enhanced Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT-E as developed by C Fairburn) which supports an individualised and collaborative approach, with the underpinning treatment principles provided by Carolyn Costin.

“When diagnosed and treated early with a multi-disciplinary approach, a young person with an eating disorder can recover and go on to live productive and fulfilling lives,” said Butterfly Foundation CEO Christine Morgan.

“The Youth IOP’s evidence-based early intervention approach is appropriate and effective for our target participants, helping reduce the likelihood of entrenched eating disorders.”

Anyone needing support with eating disorders or body image issues is encouraged to contact Butterfly’s National Helpline on 1800 33 4673 or   For urgent support call Lifeline 13 11 14