Sunday, July 04, 2010

Eating Disorder Treatment: What it is & How it Works

Eating Disorder Treatment: What it is and How it works

Ever wonder what the typical steps for eating disorder treatment are? Wonder how to know if a treatment center is well regarded? Not sure what level of care to recommend to a loved one or for yourself?

Research tells us that eating disorder treatment by a team of professionals, specialized in the field, is the best course of action to take when eating disorder recovery is needed. This can be supplemented with many outstanding self help resources to further strengthen and inspire recovery. Here is a quick overview of what treatment is and how it works:


Eating disorder treatment can be provided on an outpatient basis by a team of a therapist, nutritionist, physician and if needed, psychiatrist or cardiologist.

Typically, an individual struggling with an eating disorder will attend appointments one to two times a week with both the therapist and the nutritionist. Often, the physician, psychiatrist and/or cardiologist may require multiple appointments too, in an effort to monitor the health of the individual.

Duration of outpatient treatment can vary from three months to seven years or longer. In most cases, a long term treatment plan is needed and it is not unusual to spend five to seven years in counseling in order to recover from an eating disorder.

Intensive Outpatient

The next step up in treatment from an outpatient team approach is intensive outpatient. This often occurs at a hospital or treatment facility where the individual struggling with anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder or compulsive overeating attends a treatment clinic two or three times a week, and gains access to all the services in one location. These services generally include counseling, nutritional therapy, group counseling and more.

Inpatient or Residential Treatment

If the two prior methods of eating disorder treatment are ineffective, then residential or inpatient treatment is recommended. This generally involves a stay at a hospital or treatment center for 30 to 90 days.

These treatment centers often operate holistically and have staff and services to address the multiple needs of their patients. Art therapy, equine therapy, group counseling, individual therapy, nutrition counseling and more are typical fare at treatment centers.


The Joint Commission Accreditation Health Organization (JCAHO) awards certification to those treatment centers who apply for and gain accreditation. This is an arduous process that requires adherence to strict policies and procedures. The JCAHO mission is to continuously improve health care for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating health care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value JCAHO stands for.

Many consider JCAHO accreditation to be a bench mark for excellent and quality care.


Aftercare is very important to the ongoing recovery work of an individual released from inpatient, residential or intensive out patient treatment. It involves have a therapist and nutritionist to meet with regularly, in order to monitor behaviors and work through issues as the individual adapts back to their normal life outside of treatment.

In addition to the treatment team, it is often recommended that an individual develop an aftercare plan that also includes group support in the community. There are many organizations that provide free groups to help eating disorder sufferers stay on the road to recovery and/or recover from relapse. A few excellent organizations worth checking out are Eating Disorders Anonymous, Mentor Connect, and Overeaters Anonymous.

No comments: