Eating Disorder Treatment Options

Millions of women and men struggle with eating disorders in the United States, and without help, many of these people will continue to suffer and have potentially fatal consequences. Luckily, there are many different types of eating disorder treatment options to choose from.

Group Support

Group support is a powerful tool in the recovery process. It can be an independent support group, 12-Step support group, part of an inpatient or outpatient program, or even online support. At an eating disorder support group, you’ll receive the skills and support needed to find the strength within to recover from your illness. You’ll be surrounded by people just like you, which provides a safe place to share your struggles and gain peer support. You’ll also be guided by a professional therapist, intern, recovered person, or loved-one of a person struggling with an eating disorder that can educate you on your illness and teach you the skills to cope with and overcome your eating disorder.


There are many different types of therapy. Therapy sessions can be run by a psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor or social worker, and can be individual therapy, group therapy or even family therapy. The main goal of therapy will be to work through the issues that have led you to develop an eating disorder. The amount of therapy sessions you attend will depend on the severity of your illness.

Individual Counseling

Through individual counseling you’ll receive one-on-one support from a trained expert who will guide you in the recovery process. Here no stone will be left unturned; you will be able to talk about your childhood, your experiences and day-to-day life so that you can uncover the root of your illness and learn how to heal yourself from the inside out. Individual counseling can involve psychoanalysis, non-psychoanalysis (Jungian), cognitive-behavior therapy, or a combination of all three.

Nutritional Support/Counseling

Learning how to better take care of your body is big part of the recovery process. A trained nutritionist or dietitian will be able to teach you the eating and exercise habits necessary to improve your health. Although it can take time to nurture, you’ll eventually be able to develop a healthier relationship with food and your body.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment programs take place in a hospital or treatment center. Individuals will stay in inpatient care for a certain period of time ranging from a few days to a few months. This option is usually for acute cases of eating disorders where a person is so sick they need 24-hour care. Depending on the facility, your daily routine may include group sessions, individual therapy, weigh-ins, nutritional counseling, medical evaluations, medication or holistic treatments.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment programs also take place in hospitals or treatment centers but allow the individual to recover at home and return for regular appointments with their doctor, psychologist and nutritionist. This option is reserved for people who are medically stable enough to recover at home. Depending on the facility, you may be required to have daily or weekly sessions that may include individual therapy, group therapy, daily activities, medications, weigh-ins, medication and nutritional counseling.

Holistic Treatments

People are increasingly turning to alternative methods of treating eating disorders in addition to traditional treatment options. Holistic treatments are designed to treat the entire person — the body, mind and spirit. This is especially effective for people suffering from eating disorders because all of these aspects can contribute to their illness. Examples of holistic eating disorder treatments are yoga, mediation, physical therapy, art therapy, spiritual guidance, sensory integration, Reiki (energy) healing, touch therapy, and EEG Biofeedback.