Anorexia and The Outpatient Treatment Team: How it Works…

Lady thinking about an eating disorder Treatment Team

Contributor: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC, President & Founder of Eating Disorder Hope

Anorexia treatment appointments are all I ever do…Ugghhhhhhhhhh…Is this really the way it has to be? I have to drag myself from a doctor’s office to a therapist and then to a nutritionist? Every week? This recovery work is taking over my life and I have no time for myself. I hate this!!

This has been a familiar gripe by many of my clients, in recovery from anorexia, over the years. I think any of us could easily burn out after so many appointments, week after week.

Many of us might even come to resent the time this takes and feel it is just too much to ask of someone.

We might even consider stopping the work in order to “have a life”.

Why This Is so Effective

These appointments are inconvenient, yes. Time consuming, yes. Interrupting of other life activities, probably. However, this is the most effective outpatient treatment route for those that suffer from anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder.

Addressing the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of an anorexia sufferer is complex, and a team approach is needed. These appointments may very well be life-saving and need to be the top priority for the anorexia sufferer, or there may not be a life to live.

Who is on My Treatment Team?

The outpatient treatment team for an adult suffering from anorexia generally consists of a few to all of the professionals listed below:

  • The therapist provides counseling geared toward the needs of the individual. This may involve cognitive behavior therapy, dialectic behavior therapy, family based therapy and other modalities. The continuous support and encouragement of the therapist throughout the inevitable ups and downs of recovery is extremely helpful to the anorexia sufferer, and often, their family, too.
  • The nutritionist provides needed guidance, supervision and support of the dietary needs of the anorexia sufferer. This continual work together will help the sufferer address his or her food fears, nutritional questions and provide a place of accountability as his or her recovery progresses.
  • The physician is needed to monitor the overall health of the sufferer. Issues such as low blood pressure, heart irregularities, dehydration and / or electrolyte depletion are addressed here.
  • A psychiatrist may also be included in the team, to closely monitor and adjust medications that may help the sufferer in their recovery.
  • A cardiologist may be involved if heart irregularities have been identified by the physician and close monitoring of the heart health of the sufferer is needed.

How Often Do I Meet With My Team?

It is typical to meet with the therapist and nutritionist weekly, and the other providers on an as needed basis. In some cases, there may be a need for meetings 2 x week. Meetings with extended members of the team, such as a psychiatrist or cardiologist, are generally on an as needed basis.

How Much is this Going to Cost Me?

silhouettes-279444_640Next big concern that you are likely facing is: “How will I possibly pay for all of this”? Good question and unfortunately there is no simple answer. Obviously, insurance is a great resource and contacting your provider should provide you with a list of in network providers for your team.

If you do not have insurance, it may be helpful to contact your local county health services office and inquire about what treatment options they can offer or assist you in paying for. Also, many providers offer a sliding scale fee that can lessen the burden.

How Long Will I Have to Do This?

The duration of your treatment plan will be tailored to your unique needs. In many cases, it will involve a longer term approach and possibly necessitate ongoing outpatient treatment for years.

Though this may sound overwhelming, it is wise to have a clear understanding of the profound changes that need to occur in order to recover from anorexia and to realize that change takes time and hard work.

This Ongoing Support and Treatment Is Needed

The path to recovery from anorexia will vary for each individual, but the need for ongoing support, guidance and encouragement by trained professionals who specialize in eating disorders is needed by all.

An outpatient eating disorder treatment team may save your life and help you to build the life you desire and deserve. The commitment of multiple resources (time, money, etc) will be well worth it for those committed to recovery.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on January 7th, 2015
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About Baxter Ekern

Baxter is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He is responsible for the operations of Eating Disorder Hope and ensuring that the website is functioning smoothly.