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What are the Different Types of Eating Disorder Treatment?

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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 24 December 2019
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It has been found that eating disorders are generally masks for underlying problems. Those who suffer with eating disorders tend to use food to address or control negative feelings or emotions. This means that eating disorder treatment such as psychotherapy or residential treatment will likely be most effective if it addresses both the behavior and the cause.

Psychotherapy is one type of eating disorder treatment that tends to include focus on the underlying issues. This type of therapy usually involves a professional therapist establishing a relationship with the patient. Then, the therapist and patient can discuss the problems. Once the therapist has an idea of what is causing the destructive eating habits, she can begin to suggest alternate behaviors and solutions.

Sessions may only involve the individual with the problem or the sufferer may be part of a group. It is common for psychotherapy to incorporate family members in the treatment process. Sometimes this is done to provide additional support. At other times, therapists may want family members to discuss the effect that a person’s eating disorder has on others.

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Support groups are another type of eating disorder treatment that allows a person to address her problem in a group setting. Being surrounded by others who have similar struggles can help a person with an eating disorder to overcome feelings of isolation, guilt, and shame. Many of these groups are organized and run by people who have or once had an eating disorder, which can provide a model of success.

Support groups offer many of the same treatment techniques as psychotherapy. People have an opportunity to talk, receive advice, and discuss coping strategies. It is also likely to be significantly cheaper than psychotherapy. One drawback is that this type of eating disorder treatment tends to lack professional attention to the underlying problems.

Nutritional counseling usually involves the professional expertise of dietitians and nutritionists. These professionals tend to focus mostly on correcting the destructive behavior. Dietitians and nutritionists help those who have eating disorders by assisting with corrective meal plans and helping them to set and achieve goals for diets and healthy weights.

Eating disorder treatment can also be attempted in solitude. Some people prefer self-help options. Many celebrities have admitted that they have or once had eating disorders and they have written books to help others. Some people find these to be sources of strength and encouragement.

There are also self-help materials that outline personal therapy strategies. These may help people identify the underlying causes or triggers for destructive eating. They also tend to offer solutions and alternative behaviors.

Residential treatment is likely to be the most expensive option. This involves a person becoming a full-time patient in a hospital or living in a treatment facility. The advantage of residential treatment is that it can offer a combination of all of the other options. Patients generally have access to therapists, nutritionists, and group experiences. They may also have access to libraries with extensive materials regarding their conditions and be privy to invited guest speakers.

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