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What Happens at an Anorexia Clinic?

By Angela Crout-Mitchell
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are several types of therapy offered by both inpatient and outpatient anorexia clinic settings, including therapies designed for the patient alone, as well as therapies intended for family and friends of the affected person. Most anorexic patients are able to be effectively treated on an outpatient basis; however, those who are severely underweight or badly malnourished may need hospital care for a time. In either setting, anorexia treatment involves personal and nutritional counseling, in addition to family therapy and possibly prescription medications. The purpose of all of the treatments is to help the patient reach a stage in which neither the brain nor the body is in starvation mode any longer. This state allows the patient to have a greater ability to control the disorder and live a healthy life.

The main type of therapy offered in an anorexia clinic setting is personal counseling for the patient. These sessions consist of individual sessions as well as participation in anorexia support groups. The purpose of these meetings is to guide the patient's understanding of the disease, offer assistance in recognizing the signs of relapse, and provide suggestions for managing stress and other anorexia triggers. It is not uncommon for both types of counseling sessions to become emotionally charged and sometimes difficult for the patient to endure, though the results are considered worth the temporary emotional discomfort.

Medications are sometimes used for patients that suffer from depression or physical ailments caused by the anorexia such as heart disease, damage to the vital organs, and malnutrition. Not all patients will require this type of medical intervention. For those that do, drug therapy can be a crucial part of the recovery process.

Nutritional therapy is a large part of the services found in the anorexia clinic. In addition to learning healthy body image mindsets and how to relate to food, these patients also need to know how to eat healthfully to regain lost weight and provide the body with missing vital nutrients. These sessions are typically offered by registered nutrition experts and often the patient's food preferences become a part of the prescribed diet for recovery.

Family and friends are frequently an important part of the healing process for a person suffering from anorexia, especially for teenagers. For this reason, most anorexia clinic treatments include counseling sessions for the patient and their family. During the sessions, parents and siblings are taught about the disease and offered suggestions for helping their loved one eat well. Family members are also instructed how to monitor the patient's eating and exercise habits to, hopefully, prevent a relapse.

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