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Tips for Choosing an Eating Disorder Treatment Program

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First of all, congratulations on pursuing treatment for your eating disorder! Choosing a treatment program is a difficult decision, but knowing what to look for reduces some of that stress. What’s right for one person may not be right for everyone, so check out the tips below to help you choose the best treatment program for you.

Treatment Model

The first criterion for choosing a treatment program is determining the most appropriate treatment model. Eating disorder treatment programs typically fall under one of four models: in-patient, out-patient, individual therapy, and/or group therapy services.

In-Patient Program

Doctors and professionals widely consider in-patient programs the most effective model for eating disordered individuals, at least initially. In-patient programs occur in hospital or treatment center settings, and provide patients with 24-hour care. These programs last from a few days to a few months depending on the patient’s needs.

Out-Patient Programs

Out-patient programs also occur in hospital or treatment settings, but the patient lives at home and only attends appointments at the center. Family members who want to keep their loved ones nearby during recovery may prefer out-patient programs, but this actually impedes the recovery process. Doctors and professionals only advise medically and mentally stable patients to pursue out-patient options.

Individual and Group Therapy Sessions

Most patients start the recovery process with individual therapy sessions provided by a psychologist or counselor. The structure of these sessions often allows for family therapy sessions, as support from family and friends is vital to the recovery process. When the counselor determines that the patient has made sufficient progress in individual therapy, he may make a recommendation for group therapy. A counselor or psychologist provides guidance during group therapy sessions to facilitate discussions about experiences with eating disorders and recovery.

Treatment Policies and Services

Some treatment programs offer specialized services; good programs will have experienced and licensed clinical staff to provide specialized treatment for your disorder. Another thing to keep in mind is that not all programs are gender-specific. Look for a setting in which you will feel most comfortable, as comfort and stability influence the recovery process.
Treatment facilities should offer comprehensive care throughout the entire recovery process. Look for programs that provide a variety of services such as individual and group therapy, holistic treatments, nutritional programs, experiential therapy outings, etc. A comprehensive and efficient program will have an extensive aftercare program to gradually integrate you back into the stresses of everyday life.

Ask Questions

Once you’ve found a few possible treatment programs, don’t be afraid to ask questions! Some things to consider include:

  • What is the daily routine?
  • What are their bathroom policies?
  • Does the center include a family program?
  • What kind of food do they serve?
  • Is the philosophy such that you will always be recovering, or do they believe you can be cured?
  • How do they approach exercising?
  • Do they incorporate spiritual or religious philosophies into the program?

Sources: Casa Palmera and Mirasol