When searching for an Eating Disorder Therapist, it’s important to note that there is no one size fits all. According to Chris Illiades , “The best treatment for you will depend on the type of Eating Disorder you have, how severe your symptoms are, and many other factors. Your treatment must fit your own needs.”
It is important to go into a meeting with a potential therapist with some sort of idea of what you are looking for in terms of your own personal goals. With what do you want the therapist to help you? What is important for you to know about your therapist to make sure they are a good fit?
What are some potential red flags you should be looking out for to know whether it might be the wrong match? The questions you ask during this first meeting should help you to get some of the answers you need to decide whether a particular Eating Disorder therapist is right for you.
1. What is the treatment approach of the Eating Disorder Therapist?
You want to ask the therapist what their treatment approach is (i.e., what methods they follow or have been trained on, how they structure their sessions, etc.) Knowing the approach will help tell you whether you like the style of the sessions that will be provided.
If you are someone, for example, who doesn’t like talk therapy and wants more of a structured session with homework assignments, then a therapist who practices strictly Psychodynamic, or talk therapy, might not be the best fit for you.
As the National Eating Disorder Association states , “Since there isn’t a single approach that is considered superior for everyone, it is important to find the option that works for you.” Allow yourself the space and time to assess out how you feel in the room with the therapist, whether they make you feel comfortable and safe, as well as guide you in the right direction.
2. What is the experience of treating Eating Disorders?
It’s important to know the expertise of the therapist, especially with your particular disorder(s). There might be a specific disorder that the therapist has a lot of experience with but not as much with others. Make sure the therapist has knowledge and expertise specifically in the area(s) that you are looking to work on.
3. Does the ED Therapist work within a treatment team?
Treatment for any Eating Disorder, unless you are long in recovery, usually involves multiple practitioners (i.e., the therapist, nutritionist, psychiatrist, primary care physician, etc.) It’s important to make sure that your therapist will be actively communicating with and working with the other members of your team to ensure the most comprehensive care for you as possible.
4. How do they involve key family members?
This question is especially important if you are a minor, live with family, or want to have at least one family member involved in some aspect of your treatment. You might want your family member(s) closely involved in your treatment, or perhaps you want to handle it all on your own (which, if you are a minor, is tricky).
Learn how the potential therapist approaches contact with family members and how often they encourage it, and see if this meets your needs and feels comfortable to you.
5. How does the Eating Disorder Therapist assess treatment progress?
The answer to this question will enable you to gather information about what to expect for the course of treatment. You will learn what your therapist will deem as a “win” or “progress” during therapy, and you will gain an awareness of how you can make sure you are on track. In this part, you can even encourage the therapist to keep you abreast of any progress that they see if you think this will be positive for you (and not triggering).
Overall, the first few sessions with a new therapist, in general, is really a time to assess whether they are a good fit for you. There are no hard feelings if a therapist and patient are not a good match, as it is a very personal connection you are building.
What you should do before and after entering the therapy room is check-in with yourself. Before getting into the room, ask yourself what you are looking for and how you will know for yourself if the therapist works for you.
After the session, check in again and see if you are feeling positive about the connection. Use the questions above for guidance, but also know that you are free to ask any question you want at any time in the therapeutic process, as it is your safe space!
 Chris Illiades. “Questions to Ask About Eating Disorder Treatment.” (April 27th, 2019). https://www.healthgrades.com/right-care/eating-disorders/questions-to-ask-about-eating-disorder-treatment  National Eating Disorder Association. “Questions to Ask Treatment Providers.” (2018). https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/general-information/questions-to-ask
About the Author:
Emma Demar, LMSW is a therapist at Intrinpsych Woman on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. She holds an LMSW from Fordham University and holds a BA in Creative Writing from Trinity College. Emma recently completed a 2-Year Fellowship at Intrinpsych where she was expertly trained in Eating Disorders and DBT.
She uses a holistic approach in working with her patients, drawing from her background in Psychodynamic, CBT, and DBT, and she likes to begin where the client is and work from a strengths-based perspective. She specializes in Eating Disorders, OCD and related mental health disorders. Emma uses a direct, honest and open approach in working with her patients, who are generally women ages 12 to 32. She freelance writes for various mental health websites, and she blogs on her own website, thattrendytherapist.com.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of 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.
Reviewed & Approved on March 23, 2020, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC
Published March 23, 2020, on EatingDisorderHope.com