Overview of Online Eating Disorder Treatment Options

Woman close up

The COVID-19 pandemic has made online eating disorder treatment options a necessity. Aside from the need for social distancing, the pandemic has led to an increase in people that need professional support for their eating disorder [1].

This is likely due to the amount of uncertainty, stress, and isolation that people are enduring right now. Connection with supportive people is crucial for everyone but is especially important for the recovery process.

Online options have been available for a while, but on a smaller scale. Besides providing treatment during the COVID-19 health crisis, online treatment options are beneficial for people who live in areas where access to eating disorder professionals is limited or non-existent.

Types of Online Eating Disorder Treatment

There are a variety of online eating disorder options to help people regardless of where they are at in their recovery process. The level of care someone needs will depend on how severe their eating disorder is. Here is an overview of online eating disorder treatment options:

Hotlines- There are eating disorder hotlines available. For example, the National Eating Disorders Association offers a hotline with trained professionals. These professionals can support you or your loved one through online chat, phone calls, or texting [1].

Girl thinking about her online eating disorder treatmentMeal and recovery coaches- There are some companies and agencies that offer eating disorder recovery and meal coaches. This type of service can be beneficial in providing support in identifying clear goals and making a plan to meet them. Meal coaches can also provide support during meal times. Coaches can be a source of support and accountability.

Outpatient therapy and nutritional counseling- Eating disorder recovery often involves a mental health professional and nutritional counseling with a registered dietitian. These services are still available online through Telehealth. These services may be provided over the phone or through a secure video conferencing format, like Zoom.

Virtual Intensive Outpatient and Partial Hospitalization Programs- Many treatment centers have moved their programs onto an online format. This means that individual and group therapy sessions are being held over secure video conferencing platforms.

Treatment programs also tend to include meal support. Many treatment facilities are still including this in their online treatment program in order to continue providing well-rounded support for people in recovery.

Support groups- There are virtual eating disorder support groups being offered during this time. Not only is this a source of support and accountability, but it is also an opportunity for connection with others during this isolating time.

A Setback of Online Treatment and the Upside

It is important to remember that treatment professionals are often restricted from providing care outside of their licensed state. Have this in mind while searching for treatment professionals and treatment programs. Even though these conditions are not what anyone would have wished for, the fact that resources are still available is a sign of our resilience as a society.

Despite the times we live in, people are still showing up to provide support and healing opportunities. All you have to do is reach out and being willing to receive. Even in the midst of a pandemic, recovery is possible.

Related Reading


[1] National Eating Disorder Association. (2020). COVID-19 resources. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/help-support/covid-19-resources-page

About the Author:

Samantha Bothwell PhotoSamantha Bothwell, LMFT, is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, writer, explorer, and lipstick aficionado. She became a therapist after doing her own healing work so she could become whole after spending many years living with her mind and body disconnected. She has focused her clinical work to support the healing process of survivors of sexual violence and eating disorders. She is passionate about guiding people in their return to their truest Self so they can live their most authentic, peaceful life.

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 December 24, 2020, on EatingDisorderHope.com
Reviewed & Approved on December 24, 2020, 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.