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Eating disorders are serious health conditions that can be both physically and emotionally destructive. People with eating disorders need to seek professional help. Early diagnosis and intervention may enhance recovery. Eating disorders can become chronic, debilitating, and even life-threatening conditions.

When you begin to notice that disordered eating habits are affecting your life, your happiness, and your ability to concentrate, it is important that you talk about what you’re going through.

The most effective and long-lasting treatment for an eating disorder is psychotherapy or psychological counseling, coupled with careful attention to medical and nutritional needs.  Ideally, this treatment should be tailored to the individual and will vary according to both the severities of the disorder and the patient’s particular problems, needs, and strength

People with eating disorders respond to individual, group,family therapy and inpatient care by skilled staff, Support groups, nutritional counseling, and psychiatric medications under careful medical supervision have also proven helpful for some individuals. Care (including inpatient, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient and/or residential care in an eating disorders specialty unit or facility) is necessary when an eating disorder has led to physical problems that may be life threatening, or when it is associated with severe psychological or behavioral problems. The exact treatment needs of each individual will vary.  It is important for individuals struggling with an eating disorder to find a treatment center they trust to help coordinate and oversee their care

The most commonly used treatments—psychotherapy and medication—are delivered at various levels of inpatient and outpatient care, and in various settings depending on the severity of the illness and the treatment plan that has been developed for a particular patient

The following is a list of questions you might want to ask when contacting eating-disorder support services.  These questions apply to an individual therapist, treatment facility, other eating-disorder support services, or any combination of treatment options.

  1. What is your experience treating eating disorders, and how long has this been an area of specialty?
  2. Would you please tell me a little about your professional training and credentials in the area of eating disorders?  Do you belong to the Academy for Eating Disorders (AED)?
  3. What is your treatment style?
  4. Do you or your facility have a quality improvement program in place, or regularly assess the outcome of the treatment provided?
  5. Are you familiar with either the APA Guidelines or Britain’s NICE Criteria for the treatment of eating disorders?
  6. What kind of evaluation process will be used in recommending a treatment plan?
  7. What kind of medical information do you need?  Will I need a medical evaluation before entering the program?
  8. Do you have appointment times available? Do you offer after-work or early morning appointments?  How long do the appointments last?  How often will we meet?
  9. How long will the treatment process take?  When will we know it’s time to stop treatment?
  10. Which, if any, insurance plans to you participate in? Will you bill my carrier directly (if your visits are covered)? What is your fee structure if I don’t have insurance coverage, or should lose it during treatment? Do you have a sliding fee scale?

It is important for you to research your insurance coverage policy and what treatment alternatives are available in order for you and your treatment provider to design a treatment plan that suits your coverage. Ask the facility to send informational brochures, treatment plans, treatment prices, etc.  The more information the facility is able to send in writing, the better informed you will be. With a careful search, the provider you select will be helpful.  If the first time you meet with him or her feels awkward, don’t be discouraged.  The first few appointments with any treatment provider are often challenging.  It takes time to build up trust in someone with whom you are sharing highly personal information.  If you continue to feel that you need a different therapeutic environment, you may need to consider other providers.