How to Choose an Eating Disorder Program

Choosing an eating disorder program

What’s Important When Choosing an Eating Disorder Program? 

Choosing the right facility is critical to ensure you or your loved one is receiving the necessary level of treatment for eating disorders. There are many levels of care to take into consideration, and will depend on the severity of one’s eating disorder. Important things to look for when selecting a program are effectiveness of treatment, professionalism of staff, and accreditation. 

Treatment entails getting to the root of underlying problems including trauma, a lack of self-esteem and emotional dysregulation. Clients learn to understand the causes of their eating disorders and are taught how to normalize eating and the relationship with food, develop coping skills, and build self-esteem. Learning to manage an eating disorder requires intensive therapy, often including family therapy for continual support and a solid foundation of recovery after completion of treatment. 

Most importantly, recovery is a lengthy process that will continue after treatment is completed. Those who attend comprehensive, evidence based programs are more successful in recovering from eating disorders than those who elect to forgo treatment.

Without evidence-based care, treatment for eating disorders are typically unsuccessful. This is attributed to the absence of a solid treatment foundation, failing to address the underlying causes of one’s eating disorder, and neglecting co-occurring mental health conditions. 

Eating Disorder Solutions is a full-spectrum eating disorder treatment center. Our clinical team treats both adolescents and adults. From our years of experience, here are five things to keep in mind when looking for an eating disorder program.

Consider Facility Accreditation

Licensing and accreditation are important markers of quality care and safety. Accreditation by the Joint Commission holds treatment centers the highest standards of client-centric care, security, and safety of both staff and clients. Accreditation is maintained through thorough external examinations measuring treatment effectiveness, safety protocols, and overall treatment modalities. 

Facilities accredited by the Joint Commission provide evidence-based treatment modalities; these treatment models are proven to effectively treat a myriad of clinical conditions. When tracking alumni from accredited facilities, they typically have better outcomes than those who receive care from a non-accredited facility. Accreditation evaluations are conducted on a regular basis, ensuring facilities continually adhere to accreditation standards and treatment guidelines.

Eating Disorder Solutions is certified by the Joint Commission! We are happy to answer any questions you have about receiving treatment through an accredited eating disorder center.

Research Levels of Care for Eating Disorders

There are several levels of care in eating disorder treatment. Treatment recommendations are based upon one’s symptomatology, psychiatric evaluation, and need for medical treatment. Although it is not up to you which level of care you enter (this will be determined upon admission by a team of professionals), it is essential to know if an eating disorder treatment program offers the levels of care needed for recovery. 

Here at Eating Disorder Solutions, we offer holistic treatment programs for every stage of eating disorder recovery including residential, partial hospitalization, and outpatient programs customized to individual needs. Our seamless continuum enables clients to maintain the connection to their treatment team as they transition from higher to lower levels of care based on a comprehensive evaluation upon admission, continual progress monitoring, and treatment adjustments as needed. The levels of treatment below are as described by the American Psychiatric Association.

Residential Treatment 

     Residential treatment is ideal for those who do not yet possess the motivation to get better, or who are overwhelmed with grief, depression, or anxiety due to their disorder. Clients in residential treatment need support to develop a healthier relationship with food.

     Residential treatment offers around-the-clock care, ensuring clients have immediate access to both medical and psychiatric staff whenever necessary. Treatment is structured throughout the day and includes many treatment blocks, where clients participate in both group and individual therapies. Clients are successful with assistance and continued therapy, developing positive coping skills, self esteem, and resiliency. 

Partial Hospitalization Treatment 

     Partial hospitalization treatment for eating disorders provides clients with care and support throughout the day. Often referred to as ‘day treatment’, clients participate in group and individual counseling sessions for about eight hours each day before returning home or to a housing facility each night.

     During partial hospitalization treatment clients receive therapy throughout the day to further address the causes of the eating disorder.  Clients typically need assistance gaining healthy weight and support to prevent purging. However, after PHP clients will have learned how to manage feelings of intense guilt, repulsion, and self-hatred. Markers of treatment include maintaining a healthy weight with minimal help and a positive outlook on recovery. 

Intensive Outpatient for Eating Disorders

     Intensive outpatient care for eating disorders provides clients with more therapy and time with psychiatric staff to further remedy the underlying causes of one’s eating disorder. Clients should have a healthy body weight, possess fair motivation to recover, and actively participate in reducing purging and starving episodes. 

     IOP stops clients from relapsing in the absence of a support system. The program guides clients through the transition back into work and family life. During intensive outpatient care, clients attend sessions several times a week, as recommended by clinicians, and continue therapeutic treatment. Without IOP, clients tend to relapse when exiting treatment too soon or without a stable enough foundation in recovery. IOP remedies this, continuing therapy, expansion of recovery tools, coping skills, and mental wellness.

Outpatient Eating Disorder Treatment 

     This is the least intensive level of care intended for those who do not require medical monitoring. During treatment, clients focus on identifying the underlying causes of their eating disorder and unlearn harmful behaviors and coping habits through comprehensive therapy. Therapy focuses on building self esteem, unearthing inner and outer beauty, and living well. Outpatient clients should have a stable support system and easy access to their treatment facility in the event of an emergency.

Does Your Facility of Choice Address Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders?

Co-occurring mental health disorders are conditions that contribute to or exacerbate an eating disorder. Without addressing underlying mental health conditions, treatment is compromised and client lives remain in danger due to a lack of coping strategies and guidance on how to refrain from self-harm through dangerous binging and starvation behaviors.

Ensure the treatment facilities in consideration actively screen, evaluate, and offer care for underlying mental health disorders.

At Eating Disorder Solutions, members of our multidisciplinary team collaborate closely to address both the eating disorder and any co-occurring disorders. We are fully focused on helping each patient achieve full and lasting recovery with our integrated approach to treatment.

Does the Facility Utilize Evidence-BasedTreatment Modalities?

At Eating Disorder Solutions, we incorporate the most effective combination of treatment modalities specific to each client’s needs — all proven to help recover and maintain lasting wellness. We guide clients through learning how to cope with triggers, improving self-image, and maintaining healthy eating habits. The following is a glimpse into how these modalities work on a therapeutic level:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Tackles the underlying causes of trauma, unhealthy thought patterns, and behaviors. CBT teaches clients how to reconstruct their thoughts — healing debilitating ideas and thoughts surrounding oneself. During therapy clients work closely with their practitioners, developing a friendly and familiar client bond.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): Also called talk therapy, DBT is especially effective teaching distress tolerance, and helping clients stop from harming themselves (including but not limited to self-harm, binging, purging, or not eating); DBT shows increased effectiveness for clients struggling with suicidal thoughts and ideation, drastically reducing hospitalization.

Motivational Interviewing (MI): Helps clients find their inner drive, focus, and commitment to get better. The goal of treatment is to revitalize inner momentum to recover. MI for eating disorders reduces one’s “drive for thinness”, offers marked recovery in one’s Body Mass Index, and drastically reduces stress, improving one’s mood and overall readiness for treatment.

Nutritional Therapy: A registered dietitian will help clients craft meal plans that fully meet their nutritional needs while also teaching them how to build healthy relationships with food.

Family Therapy: Helps loved ones understand more about the client’s diagnosis so that they have a strong support system after residential treatments.

Individual Therapy: The client will be able to meet with a therapist one-on-one to discuss personal concerns.

Group Therapy: Numerous individuals facing the same struggles will learn coping mechanisms and provide empathetic support to each other during group sessions.

Evaluate the Expertise of the Clinical Team

A sometimes neglected component of recovery when choosing a program is the level of experience and expertise medical professionals and clinicians possess. Ensure clinical directors herald have experience in successfully treating eating disorders. Do not forget to assess staff expertise including therapists, case managers, and general practitioners. An experienced treatment team is well equipped to guide clients through lasting recovery — as opposed to teams who may work in the healthcare industry, but do not have specialized knowledge of eating disorders. Tread carefully when reviewing facilities who have eating disorders programs, yet do not exclusively specialize in the treatment of them.

Registered Dietician: Because eating disorders are multilayered conditions requiring specialized care, registered dieticians are critically important when laying the foundation for continual recovery. Clients are assessed and guided individually in direct response to treatment programs to improve nutrition and healthy eating habits.

Eating Disorder Solutions implements each component of care listed above. If you have detailed questions, please give us a call! 

Recovery with Eating Disorder Solutions

Before signing up for treatment, consider taking a tour of the facility in question and take special note of how you are addressed by treatment staff. (We’d be happy to arrange one!) It is important to get a sense of the quality of care and professionalism before you commit to treatment. This helps ensure you are well taken care of, and are not in for a rude surprise upon admittance. 

Eating Disorder Solutions is here 24 hours a day to answer any questions you may have about treatment for eating disorders including, but not limited to, anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. Our approach to treatment is unique. We couple evidence-based practices with compassion, care and mindfulness based modalities. We develop personalized meal plans for each client, with a solid foundation in nutrition education and relapse prevention. 

Therapies include empowerment, mindful eating, body image groups, expressive art therapy, and yoga sessions. We believe treatment doesn’t have to feel like treatment. 

If you have any questions about getting help for an eating disorder, drop us a line or give us a call! 

We’re here and happy to help.