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Eating disorder treatment can be provided on an outpatient basis by a team of a therapist, nutritionist, physician and if needed, psychiatrist or cardiologist.
Typically, an individual struggling with an eating disorder will attend appointments one to two times a week with both the therapist and the nutritionist.Often, the physician, psychiatrist and/or cardiologist may require multiple appointments too, in an effort to monitor the health of the individual.
Duration of outpatient treatment can vary from three months to seven years or longer.In most cases, a long-term treatment plan is needed and it is not unusual to spend five to seven years in counseling in order to recover from an eating disorder.
Intensive Outpatient (IOP)
The next step up in treatment from an outpatient team approach is intensive outpatient. This often occurs at a hospital or treatment facility where the individual struggling with anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder or compulsive overeating attends a treatment clinic two or three times a week, and gains access to all the services in one location. These services generally include counseling, nutritional therapy, group counseling and more.
Partial Hospitalization (PHP)
This is an intermediary level of care, also referred to as “day treatment.” People in partial hospitalization are in an eating disorder clinic for 6 to 10 hours per day, 5 to 7 days per week. There they receive the majority of their day’s nutrition, participate in therapy groups, and meet with their therapists, dieticians, and psychiatrists. Partial hospitalization is an alternative to residential care, allowing individuals to continue living at home and keep a foot in the real world. Many partial hospitalization programs also have supportive housing options for individuals who do not live near the clinic.
If the two prior methods of eating disorder treatment are ineffective, then residential or inpatient treatment is recommended.This generally involves a stay at a hospital or treatment center for 30 to 90 days.
These residential eating disorder treatment centers often operate holistically and have staff and services to address the multiple needs of their patients.Art therapy, equine therapy, group counseling, individual therapy, nutrition counseling and more are typical fare at treatment centers.
This level of treatment offers continuum of care 24 hours a day in a hospital setting. The primary focus of this level of care is medical stabilization and interruption of weight loss, with typical stays less than 3 weeks. Once the individual is considered to be medically stable, they are usually discharged to a residential treatment center for ongoing care.