If you’re considering treatment for an eating disorder, take a moment to recognize how incredibly courageous that is. You’re probably wondering just what to expect once you pick up the phone or fill out an online form. What is eating disorder treatment really like?
Keep reading for an overview of the process, plus some specific information about treatment at Seeds of Hope. We want to help you enter treatment with confidence, knowing that believe you can fully recover with the right support.
Determining the level of care needed
When you contact an eating disorder treatment center, you’ll first provide some basic information to the admissions representative. They’ll likely ask for your name, address, phone number, birth date and they may ask you to describe your symptoms. Then, the admissions representative will help you schedule your first appointment. This is a great opportunity to ask any questions you have about treatment and verify that your insurance is accepted.
Once you arrive at the treatment center for your first appointment, expect to fill out some paperwork and talk with the clinicians. They’ll want to figure out what type of eating disorder you have, how long you’ve had it and how severe the symptoms are.
This first appointment is usually known as an initial evaluation or assessment. The purpose of this assessment is to determine the appropriate level of care — outpatient, inpatient or residential. You won’t actually get started on therapy until your next session.
At Seeds of Hope, we spend time discussing our program with you and learning about your goals for treatment. If it’s determined that you need a different level of care than what we can provide, we will refer you to a provider who can meet your needs.
Creating a treatment plan
Once the treatment center determines the appropriate level of care, they will work with you to create a customized treatment plan. This is like your blueprint for recovery. It specifies which types of therapy or other treatment methods will be used, what treatment goals need to be met and who will provide care.
When you enter treatment, you’ll most likely be working with various medical professionals, including therapists, doctors, dietitians and more.
If you’re entering inpatient or residential treatment, this is where the process begins to differ from outpatient treatment.
What is residential or inpatient treatment like?
The main difference with inpatient or residential eating disorder treatment is that you’ll be staying at the treatment center overnight. Living in a new environment may seem stressful, but it helps you cut out any distractions so you can focus on your recovery.
Prior to starting your first treatment session, you’ll pack up anything you need (clothes, toiletries, etc.) and move into the treatment center. You will probably spend your first day getting used to the new environment and meeting the other clients and staff, orienting yourself to this new lifestyle.
The term inpatient treatment is often used interchangeably with residential. However, inpatient usually refers to a hospital setting, while residential is a more homelike setting. Inpatient may be necessary for clients who are severely malnourished, at risk of harming themselves or need medical monitoring.
Seeds of Hope has a residential treatment center in Lake Ariel, PA. We strive to create a safe, peaceful space for our clients to heal their relationships with their bodies and food. Learn more about our residential programming.
What is outpatient treatment like?
With outpatient treatment, you will go to a treatment center and participate in therapy for a few hours each day, usually 4-5 days per week. You’ll keep living at home and attending to your everyday responsibilities (work, school, family). This is a more flexible situation for clients who are medically stable.
What actually happens in treatment?
Treatment programs vary, but most of them incorporate a mix of different techniques. These may include:
- Group and individual therapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, group processing and other types of therapy may be used.
- Clinician-supported meals: You will eat at least one meal (or all meals if in inpatient/residential) with the support of your peers and the treatment team. You may participate in a form of group or individual processing to help you examine the feelings that came up during the meal.
- Meal preparation and nutrition education: With help from nutritionists and registered dietitians, you’ll learn how to plan, shop for and prepare balanced meals.
- Holistic therapies: You might participate in a holistic treatment like art therapy, music therapy and equestrian or pet therapy.
- Psychiatric evaluation and monitoring: You’ll likely meet with a psychiatrist at the initial evaluation. Throughout the program, you may have additional psychiatric sessions, especially if you start taking medication as part of your treatment plan.
Depending on the program, you may participate in all of these treatment methods each day, or you may only participate in a few.
View our adult program details or see how we help teens with eating disorders.
Ready to start treatment?
If you are preparing to start treatment (or are currently seeking treatment), then you have taken the biggest step in overcoming an eating disorder. You may understandably feel anxious or nervous about the process, but hopefully you have a better understanding of what to expect in eating disorder treatment.
If you or someone you love are struggling with an eating disorder, Seeds of Hope is here to help. To learn more about our programs, or to just have a friendly, non-judgmental conversation, get in touch with our team by calling (610) 644-6464.