5 Tips for Choosing the Best Eating Disorder Rehab for You

Girl trying to choose the Best Eating Disorder Rehabs

Selecting a treatment program and choosing from the best eating disorder rehabs for an eating disorder is a significant decision for several reasons. Treatment is a commitment of time, money, and emotional resources.

I’ve worked in the field of eating disorders since 2003 at three different centers. I’ve also interacted with professionals from dozens of other programs. If I were in the position of choosing a treatment program for myself or a loved one, here are six things I would keep in mind.

When Choosing the Best Eating Disorder Rehabs, Be Wise When Reading Online Reviews

You may find reading the product reviews on Amazon helpful because it gives you a broad perspective on the quality and value of the product. Unfortunately, online reviews for treatment centers do not work the same way.

Ethically, it is frowned upon for facilities to ask patients to post public reviews (internal satisfaction surveys are fine). And for privacy reasons, many people who have been to treatment don’t want to post their experience on sites like Google or Facebook.

man and therapist discussing eating disordersOn the flip side, many dissatisfied patients who are upset about the treatment reviews post online, which skews the reviews in a negative direction.

The best way to get honest reviews may be to call a few eating disorder professionals who work near the treatment facility (but not for it) and ask for a balanced opinion. They will likely give fair and accurate reviews about the treatment center’s strengths and weaknesses.

Have a Clear Understanding of the Levels of Care

The Substance abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recently announced best practices for drug rehab facilities. [1] These same guidelines can apply to programs treating eating disorders.

One of the guidelines states that treatment should have a clear “operational definition.” In other words, they need to have clearly defined treatment goals. When considering a treatment center, ask them to explain their goals for treatment, how levels of care facilitate these goals, and how they identify when patients are ready to discharge.

Call at least 3 of Best Eating Disorder Rehabs

Take the time to do some research and call the top three treatment centers that look appealing and professional to you. When you call, you will speak with an admission specialist, and they will most likely ask you to set up a formal assessment call.

But you don’t have to do that right away. Feel free to ask as many questions as you like about the treatment center. You don’t have to commit to an assessment to have your questions answered.

Consider a Tour

If you live close enough to visit the treatment facility, I highly recommend you take a tour. There is no obligation to choose that facility if you tour.

Touring the facility will give you a chance to see how the staff treat you, where you might eat, sleep, and spend your days, and learn more details about the treatment program. You could also consider asking to meet with one of the therapists, doctors, or dietitians to have your questions answered.

Ask for a Referral

Mother and friend discussing Best Eating Disorder RehabsMany professionals who work in the field of eating disorders have worked for more than one program. And, for those who haven’t, they still know about the reputations of other facilities.

At the end of your initial call, ask this question, “If we decide your program is not a good fit for us, what other programs would you recommend?”

How they answer this question may reveal as much about them as the answer they give. If they can’t recommend another program or you feel they are pressuring you to choose their program, that tells you something about their priorities.


[1] SAMHSA; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2019, October 18). Recovery Housing: Best Practices and Suggested Guidelines. Retrieved November 9, 2019, from https://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/housing-best-practices-100819.pdf.

About the Author:

Travis Stewart Headshot PhotoTravis Stewart, LPC has been mentoring others since 1992 and became a Licensed Professional Counselor in 2005. His counseling approach is relational and creative, helping people understand their story while also building hope for the future. Travis has experience with a wide variety of issues which might lead people to seek out professional counseling help.

This includes a special interest in helping those with compulsive and addictive behaviors such as internet and screen addiction, eating disorders, anxiety, and perfectionism. Specifically, he has worked with eating disorders since 2003 and has learned from many of the field’s leading experts. He has worked with hundreds of individuals facing life-threatening eating disorders in all levels of treatment. His website is wtravisstewart.com

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective on eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published November 26, 2019, on EatingDisorderHope.com
Reviewed & Approved on November 26, 2019, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC

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.