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Outpatient Program for Young People 

Butterfly’s Outpatient Program for Young People (Youth Program) is a 10-week therapeutic group program providing early intervention for young people with emerging eating disorders.  

Next program: Monday 14 October - Wednesday 18 December 2019, Monday and Wednesday evenings   

Register by: Tuesday 8 October 

Next programs:

  • Monday 3 February - 10 April 2020
  • Monday 27 April - 3 July

Register for assessment or refer now 


About the program

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 everyday life as much as possible, so group sessions run Monday and Wednesday evenings from 6:00pm - 9:00pm for 10 weeks.

Program dates:

  • 14 October - 20 December 2019 - Enquiries close Tuesday 8 October 2019
  • 3 February - 10 April 2020 - Enquiries close Thursday 23 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

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.

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.

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.

Mihaela - Sessional Therapist


Mihaela is a Sessional Therapist for the Youth Intensive Outpatient Program. 

Mihaela has a Master's Degree in Psychology with University of Zagreb, is a certified NLP Practitioner, Systemic Family Constellations Facilitator and a Reiki Master Teacher, having training in Yalom Process Group Psychotherapy and Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), using a holistic, integrative approach in my work. Mihaela also has a lived experience of an eating disorder, having been recovered for 16 years.

Mihaela’s journey in the field of eating disorders begun in Croatia where she was an Eating Disorder prevention group facilitator, implementing a 10-week prevention program with young adolescent girls in high schools and also founded Support Groups for eating disorders. Mihaela was a Psychologist intern at the Counselling Centre of Healthy City Porec before moving to Australia. Mihaela has worked in South Pacific Private psychiatric hospital with addictions and mental health issues for a year and a half, both in the inpatient (Primary Therapist) and in the outpatient (Day Program Therapist) setting. Since February 2018, Mihaela has been a Counsellor on the Butterfly National Helpline.

Alyssa - Sessional Therapist


Alyssa is a Sessional Therapist for the Adult and Youth Intensive Outpatient Program.

Alyssa has a passion for working with people who are in need of empathy and care. Her desire is to be someone to walk alongside people so they can have the full life they deserve. Her interest for supporting people experiencing an eating disorder has developed over many years and after completing her counselling studies, provided the motivation to work in this field. Alyssa hopes that all people can receive the support and care that they need to experience a full recovery. Alyssa also is a Counsellor on the Butterfly National Helpline.

Find out more or make a referral

To refer a client, or for our treatment team to give you a call:

Enquire now or make a referral

Alternatively, email or call 02 8456 3915 and leave a message for our team.

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).

Make a payment

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

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