What does Eating Disorder Treatment Typically Involve?

eating disorder treatment, therapy, counseling, nutrition, group

Eating disorder recovery treatment has found to be most effective when it is comprehensive. When this is possible, one can receive support to address the physical, psychological, and emotional challenges. The specific treatment plan can vary based on the type and severity of the eating disorder, as well as the unique needs of the individual.

A treatment plan may involve:

eating disorder therapy, treatment, therapy, nutrition counseling, binge eating, nutrition

  • Assessment: The first step is a thorough assessment by a healthcare provider, therapist, or registered dietitian. They will ask questions to determine an appropriate treatment plan. They will also determine the type of eating disorder, its severity, and any underlying physical or mental health issues.
  • Medical stabilization: For those with a severe eating disorder, they may need medical stabilization to address any immediate health risks. Hospitalization or outpatient medical care may be recommended to stabilize weight, address dehydration, or treat electrolyte imbalances.
  • Nutritional support: Registered dietitians play a crucial role in the treatment process. They create a personalized meal plan to address nutritional deficiencies, restore healthy eating patterns, and help individuals achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Psychotherapy: Various forms of psychotherapy are commonly used in eating disorder treatment, including:
    • Cognitive-Behavioral therapy (CBT): Helps individuals identify and challenge negative thought patterns and behaviors related to food and body image.
    • Dialectical-Behavior Therapy (DBT): Focuses on emotional regulation and coping strategies to manage intense emotions and impulsive behaviors.
    • Interpersonal Therapy (IPT): Focuses on improving relationships and communication skills to address interpersonal conflicts and emotional triggers.
  • Group therapy: Group therapy provides a supportive environment for individuals to connect with peers facing similar challenges, share experiences, and practice interpersonal skills.
  • Family-based treatment: For adolescents, family-based treatment (FBT) involves family participation in the treatment process. Parents and caregivers are actively involved in helping their child recover.
  • Support for co-occurring conditions: Many individuals with eating disorders also experience co-occurring mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
  • Self-monitoring: Keeping a food journal or using meal-tracking tools can help individuals become more aware of their eating behaviors and emotional triggers.
  • Relapse prevention: Having strategies to identify and manage potential relapse triggers is key to maintaining recovery. Learning to recognize warning signs and having a plan in place can help prevent relapse.
  • Medication: In some cases, medication may be prescribed to manage symptoms of co-occurring mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety.
  • Body image and self-esteem work:  Recovery work often involves helping one build a more positive body image and improve self-esteem that challenge distorted self-perceptions.
  • Holistic approaches: Some treatment programs incorporate holistic approaches, such as art therapy, yoga, mindfulness, and meditation, to help individuals manage stress and improve overall well-being.

Understanding the treatment and recovery process

Recovery from an eating disorder is a long and challenging journey, and it requires patience and support from a dedicated treatment team. The founder of Evolve Wellness wrote a book providing a comprehensive yet accessible explanation of the healing process. Check it out here.

The ultimate goal of treatment is to help individuals develop a healthy relationship with food, improve their mental and emotional well-being, and achieve lasting recovery.


If you would like to talk with us regarding treatment for you or a loved one, reach out today.