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Outpatient Program for Young People

Need help with dieting or body image concerns?  

Butterfly’s Outpatient Program for Young People (Youth Program) is a 10-week therapeutic group program held in Crows Nest, Sydney, providing early intervention for young people, aged 14 to 24, experiencing disordered eating and motivated to recover.  

Join our 10-week treatment program to:

  • help you to re-engage with your healthy self
  • overcome disordered eating and dieting
  • and improve your body image.

Next program: Due to COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to pause this program until further notice. 

Register for assessment      Clinician's Referral Form 


About the program

Each week, build upon skills you’ve developed in prior weeks, so you have a strong foundation of tools to draw on when you need them. All sessions are safe, supportive, practical, and will give you renewed hope for recovery and take place in our homey terrace house with other young people.

Who is the program for?

The Youth Program is for individuals aged 14 to 24 years who have early signs and symptoms of an eating disorder and/or disordered eating.  

Why early intervention?

Research shows the earlier the treatment for an eating disorder, the higher the success rate.

What's unique about this program?

The Youth Program is unique in targeting early intervention in an accessible and affordable format.

It’s designed to help young people with an eating disorder or emerging eating disorder overcome obstacles affecting their quality of life. It provides intensive support, whilst enabling them to continue with school, university and/or work.

Where and when is the program held?

Our program pilot site is Crows Nest, Sydney. Our aim is to roll the program out into the community in across Australia.

We've created the program to fit in with your everyday life as much as possible, so group sessions run Monday and Wednesday evenings from 6 - 9pm for 10 weeks.

Program dates:

  • 3 February - 10 April 2020 - Enquiries close Sunday 19 January 2020
  • 27 April - 3 July 2020 - Enquiries close Thursday 16 April 2020

Places are limited.

Enquire now

Treatment options in other states and territories: please contact the Butterfly National Helpline (1800 ED HOPE).

How much does it cost?

Thanks to our sponsor, this program is $50 per week. This includes two weekly sessions with our therapists and some sessions with our dietitian. If cost is a barrier please discuss with our team, as we want anyone who wants to attend this program to be able to (if they are eligible).

This program is supported by Future Generation Global (FGG).

Program approach

The primary treatment approach of the Youth Program is enhanced cognitive therapy (CBT-E), as developed by Christopher Fairburn, and is also based on Carolyn Costin’s work.

Carolyn Costin’s work draws on a number of evidence-based interventions (e.g. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy, and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy) that support behavioural experimentation and change. For example, the concepts of the ‘eating disorder self’ and ‘healthy self’ support a non-judgmental approach to discussing eating disorder thoughts and behaviours that works with resistance to change. It also fosters the individual’s ‘healthy self’ to challenge the thoughts and behaviours supporting the eating disorder.

The Youth Program focuses on instilling the belief that recovery is possible, as feeling hopeless or powerless is common in people experiencing an eating disorder or disordered eating.

Program outline

Supportive Environment

The environment of the Youth Program reflects the following:

  • An open and non-judgmental approach, which places emphasis on forming respectful and trusting therapeutic relationships
  • Inclusion of family and other support people in treatment wherever possible.  We encourage loved ones or family members to attend family therapy sessions in weeks three, five, seven and 10.
  • Shared meal between participants and the team each session. 

Treatment Team

We work closely with clinicians currently caring for participants, such as their GP, dietitian or psychologist. We may also refer participants to external clinicians during or after the program whereappropriate.

Post Program

After completing the program, all participants receive regular follow-up and support, with some receiving further intensive support. The level of support needed is assessed by our clinical team in consultation with the participant and their family.

Holistic Program

The group therapy sessions in the Youth Program focus on:

  • Normalisation of eating behaviours
  • Addressing body image concerns
  • Emotional regulation
  • Relational difficulties and psychological issues
  • Allowing participants to explore their struggles in a safe, supportive, and recovery focused environment.

Meet the team

Michelle - National Manager, Treatment and Support


Michelle Sperling is the National Manager, Treatment and Support.

She is a registered Clinical Social Worker and Psychotherapist. A highly-experienced eating disorder clinician.Michelle has worked in a wide range of settings including;individual counselling, Butterfly’s Intensive Outpatient Program, Recovery and Carer support groups and programs.

Michelle is trained in evidence-based therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Schema Therapy, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) and Narrative Therapy. Michelle has a holistic approach to treatment and advocates that recovery is 100% possible. She is passionate about working with those experiencing and caring for someone eating disorder.

Claire - Treatment Program Coordinator


Claire is the Treatment Program Coordinator for the Adult and Youth Intensive Outpatient Programs.

Claire has worked for not-for-profit and health based organisations for the past decade. Her passion for health and wellbeing began after completing a project with a local charity, in rural India. Since then, Claire has spent a considerable amount of time working in developing countries. She is an enrolled nurse with many years’ experience in medical administration and management. When Claire is not working at The Butterfly Foundation, she is busy studying a degree in natural medicine and nutrition.

Emma - Senior Therapist


Emma Sheens is the Senior Therapist for the Adult and Youth Intensive Outpatient Programs.

Emma is a warm, genuine and trusted registered Psychologist. She enjoys working with people across various stages of their illness and supporting clients to obtain complete recovery. Her clients typically build strong and natural connection with her early in treatment.

Emma is dedicated to raising awareness about eating disorders and has a strong desire to help people who are suffering and impacted by eating disorders, including individuals and their families. She has been published in the field of eating disorders regarding reducing stigma around eating disorders and presented her research at the Australian and New Zealand Academy for Eating Disorders (ANZAED) conference in 2017. Emma is passionate about trying to educate and inform individuals about the very real and true nature of an eating disorder.

In addition to her work at The Butterfly Foundation, Emma works in private practice at ‘BodyMatters Australasia’. She has also worked previously at Northside Group, St Leonards Clinic.

Sarah - Therapist


Sarah is an Adult and Youth Intensive Outpatient Program Therapist.

Sarah is a provisionally registered Psychologist who has had direct experience working with adolescents and young adults experiencing disordered eating and other co-morbidities in a therapeutic role. Before joining Butterfly's treatment team, Sarah was a Youth Access Clinician at headspace Hurstville and was also chosen by headspace National as a subject matter expert and spoke in a 90 minute training video for new Intake Workers, and actively supported and assisted with the training of new Youth Access Clinicians and Clinical students. More recently, through a Butterfly and headspace partnership, Sarah co-facilitated our Emerging and Unfolding 6-week recovery programs for young people in the community who were experiencing disordered eating and body image concerns. Sarah is passionate about continuing her career in Eating Disorders, working with people and their families.

Bronwyn - Dietitian


Bronwyn is an accredited practicing Dietitian working in a casual role as part of the Adult and Youth Intensive Outpatient Program team.

Over the past year she has been working with the National Eating Disorders Collaboration in a role to support Australia’s Primary Health Networks. 

This has included delivering introductory level education to health professionals, stakeholder management and disseminating consistent evidence-based information on eating disorders prevention, early intervention, management across Australia. She maintains fortnightly private practice work at a GP Clinic in Sydney’s south and looks forward to working alongside the IOP team and the opportunity to expand her clinical experience in the treatment of those experiencing eating disorders.

Claire - Senior Dietitian


Claire Marnane is the Senior Dietitian for Adult and Youth Intensive Outpatient Programs.

Claire is an accredited practicing Dietitian and brings a wealth of experience working in the ED sector which extends from Wesley Hospital to private practice. In addition to that Claire has also published research articles and presented at the Australian and New Zealand Academy for Eating Disorders ANZAED conferences in 2011 & 2017. Claire is dedicated to working to improve people’s relationship with food through diet, lifestyle, and a holistic approach which considers the role food plays in a person’s life. 

Jackie - IOP Therapist


Jackie is a registered psychologist with a passion for working and understanding eating disorders, as well as other mental health concerns.

She has spent most of her professional career working with young people experiencing mild to severe mental health concerns and strives to work as collaboratively as possible with people and their networks. Jackie has experience providing a range of therapeutic approaches including (but not limited to) Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), Schema Therapy, and Family Based Treatment for Eating Disorders (FBT), and aims to work as closely as possible to shift challenging behaviours and help equip both individuals and families throughout the recovery journey.

Selin - IOP Therapist


Selin is an Adult Intensive Outpatient Program Therapist and registered Psychologist.

She has had extensive experience in numerous therapeutic settings including; private practice, schools and charities. Selin has worked with children, adolescents and their families who are experiencing emotional, behavioural or social difficulties. In addition to this one of her primary responsibilities included treatment of disordered eating presentations. Selin is proficient in working with families to support parents with strategies to overcoming challenging adolescent behaviour and improve communication between parent and child. She is highly experienced in working with complex presentations and diffusing challenging behaviours. Selin is a team player and experienced in working within a multidisciplinary team.

Make a payment

Click HERE  to make a payment for the Outpatient Program for Young People.

Do you need support now? 

For support now, please contact our Helpline to talk to one of our professional counsellors (8am - midnight 7 days a week AEST).

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