A plan for eating disorder treatment isn’t a one-size-fits-all process though there are typically some commonalities found among them. For most women, a combination of eating disorder counseling, medical monitoring, and nutrition education forms the basis of a successful treatment plan. Even with that in mind, there are still some things that you need to know about finding eating disorder treatment that is a good fit.
1. Start with Your Healthcare Professionals
Just like with any other condition that affects your health, the ideal first step is to make an appointment with a medical professional. The particular health provider that you choose depends on several factors as well as your own individual preference. If you, for example, already have an established relationship with a mental health professional, he or she can be a good first step when it comes to finding treatment. Whether you’ve been seeing a psychiatrist or a psychologist, this person is likely one that you’ve seen often and that you trust. This healthcare provider is also likely to be a good judge of what type of eating disorder treatment center would be the best fit for you.
Your primary care provider is also a good resource to tap into when you need to find out about your treatment options for eating disorders. Because this professional is also likely to be aware of your family situation and your insurance status, she or he can provide you with more information about eating disorder facilities including those who provide outpatient eating disorder treatment if that option is one that will work for your situation.
2. Expect to Have a Team of Professionals
As mentioned above, your psychologist, psychiatrist or primary care physician is a good starting point for finding out more information about eating disorders in women and the kind of treatment options available. However, these professionals are not trained in the specialized services that are necessary in order to provide the full spectrum of treatments that women need for eating disorder recovery.
Indeed, the best approach to this complex condition is one that relies on a variety of team members who are all striving toward one particular goal: to assist you in eating disorder recovery. You can expect to have mental health professionals on your team. They’ll be either a psychologist or a psychiatrist who has additional and specialized training and experience in eating disorders in women.
Another key player in your own personal eating disorder recovery team is a registered dietitian. This professional is there to provide in-depth education and guidance on matters concerning nutrition. The registered dietitian is also vital in helping you plan meals during your recovery as well as afterward as you transition out of your eating disorder facility.
A third medical component of your professional team is someone who provides medical care to address and treat any dental or health conditions that arose as the result of the eating disorder.
During your entire stay in an eating disorder treatment center, you can expect your team to see you frequently and to communicate about you often. It is this frequent communication between the members of the team — as well as with you — that ensures that your treatment plan is continuing to work for you.
3. Your Needs Are Vital
This might seem like a silly thing to note, however, it’s important for women to know that they matter. Sometimes, it can seem like eating disorder treatment is something that is being done to you instead of with you. Your needs must bea vital and invaluable component in any treatment plan or action that is taken during your stay in an eating disorder facility or when you are undergoing outpatient eating disorder treatment.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to know if you really need help. After all, it might seem like all of your friends are dieting and exercising excessively to meet their personal weight, fitness, sports or other goals. This is especially true if these behaviors are lifelong and they’ve seemed to help you reach those goals in the past. Empathy, respect and the ability to see you as a human being are essential factors when it comes to finding the right eating disorder treatment options for you.
4. Your Support System is Crucial
Who do you turn to when you have a challenging issue or problem in your life? For many women, this might be your spouse, your parents, your siblings or your friends. Some women have different groups of people who provide them with support while others have only one or two.
For the successful treating of eating disorders, it’s important to have your support system by your side. You’ll want to have them involved in your care at some point. The exact level of their involvement is something that can differ between women and is a choice that only you can make for yourself.
It’s important to note here that some women may find — upon reflection — that they lack a strong support system or even any support system at all. For many people, the women in their lives supply their support system, but these same women can lack someone reliable to turn to when they themselves need help. During your eating disorder recovery, you’ll learn how to identify your support system, how to build one if you find yours lacking and how to find others who are in similar circumstances that you can connect with for support if you chose to do so.
5. There Are Different Levels of Care
Remember when it was noted that treating eating disorders in women doesn’t rely on a cookie cutter approach that assumes that all women who want the same goal of eating disorder recovery are the same? Depending on your particular circumstances, desires and other pertinent factors, there are different levels of care that are designed to provide you with a range of treatment options for eating disorders.
- Inpatient hospitalization can be thought of an acute level of care that is implemented if the woman needs to be both stabilized medically and monitored closely. Women who need inpatient hospitalization most often transition into further treatment.
- Residential treatment is the ideal method of eating disorder recovery as it offers the medically-stable woman with the structure and support she needs on a full-time basis. Eating disorder counseling, medical assessment, supported meals and other nutritional elements, group therapy, and medical management are just a few of the basic services offered at eating disorder treatment centers. Though the exact length of time varies depending on a variety of factors, most women spend between six weeks and three months at eating disorder facilities.
- Partial hospitalization or day treatment provides women with care on an outpatient level for up to seven days per week and six hours per day. Group therapy and daily supervised meals are two components that are typically found in this type of setting. When being discharged from a residential setting, most teams suggest that women transition to day treatment as a way to ease back into their home life.
- Outpatient eating disorder treatment requires that a woman is medically stable first. In addition, she must have at least a moderate level of motivation to continue treatment on her own. That being said, this level of treatment offers busy women who are already juggling full schedules of work, home and school responsibilities the option to have the support and care she needs during her eating disorder recovery. A woman who is taking part in outpatient eating disorder treatment can expect supported meals, individual therapy, nutrition counseling, group therapy and more, depending on the treatment center.
- General outpatient care is the lowest level of care when it comes to supporting eating disorder recovery. It relies on the woman to be both medically stable and moderately motivated in order to be successful. Women in this level of care can expect to receive services such as group therapy, nutrition counseling, individual therapy and medical care from their primary care physician.
6. Co-Occurring Conditions Need to be Addressed
Successful eating disorder recovery relies on treating the entire person — inside and out. This means that while a significant component of treatment is meal planning and nutrition so that your physical self is nurtured and supported, it’s just as important for your psychiatric health to be addressed as well.
For many women who are exploring their treatment options for eating disorders, addressing any co-occurring conditions is an important factor as well. For example, many women have exercise addiction along with an eating disorder. These two conditions are often linked because exercise can help a woman maintain what she believes to be an ideal weight. Exercise can also help rid the body of excess calories in the event that you are recovering from a purging event. Because of the intricate connection between the two disorders, it’s important that both are addressed during eating disorder treatment.
Another common scenario is an addiction to drugs, alcohol, shopping or gambling. The underpinnings of each of these addictions are often linked for the women who have them so it’s important to gently unravel them in a supportive environment that emphasizes a no-judgment strategy of recovery.
Mental health conditions such as anxiety, depressive, bipolar and mood disorders are other common conditions that are often co-occurring in women who have an eating disorder. Choosing an eating disorder treatment center that places an emphasis on the importance of addressing each of these thoroughly so that eating disorder recovery can be holistic is vital to your success.
An eating disorder facility that focuses solely on your eating disorder provides one-dimensional care when you are a complex and multidimensional human being. Only treatment options for eating disorders that also provide a special emphasis on your psychiatric and medical care will provide you with the holistic approach that is necessary for true eating disorder recovery. When this methodology is coupled with empathic, caring and supportive staff who works with you as a unique individual and person, then you know that you’ve found the eating disorder treatment center that is going to make a difference for you and your health.
Oliver Pyatt Centers are part of the esteemed Monte Nido treatment centers that provide nationwide options for treatment of eating disorders. Focusing on the unique needs of women who are focused on eating disorder recovery, Oliver Pyatt Centers provide luxurious facilities, medical treatment, post-treatment options, a compassionate and talented staff and frequent activities off-site. In addition to residential treatment options, Oliver Pyatt Centers also offer outpatient day treatment for women with eating disorders as well as co-occurring conditions.