What is a Treatment Team and Why Is It Important?

Treatment team with hands together

Just as there is the proper tool for every project, there are specialists trained and dedicated to healing every aspect of a person that their eating disorder has broken. All of these trained professionals combine to create the “Treatment Team.”

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) emphasizes that the goals of an eating disorder treatment team are to improve both physical and psychological functioning.

More specifically, this involves “restoring or maintaining…general physical health, addressing emotional and psychological issues…reducing or eliminating behaviors or thoughts that lead to disordered eating, and preventing relapse [1].”

Who Makes Up a Comprehensive Treatment Team?

Treatment teams can vary in their makeup; however, they most commonly consist of a physician, nutritionist, and psychologist, providing care for the patient’s medical, nutritional, and psychological symptoms.

Having a physician involved in eating disorder treatment is very important, as eating disorders can take a huge toll on physical health. The physician “assists in establishing the diagnosis by ruling out medical conditions that can resemble eating disorders…evaluates medical complications, provides medical input on caloric and exercise prescriptions, prescribes appropriate medications, and sets clear criteria for medical hospitalization [1].”

Nutritionist participation is critical in assisting the patient while they create meal goals and work toward building a more positive relationship with food. A nutritionist can assist in educating the patient, and their family, on food and nutrition, “targeting and addressing specific disordered eating behaviors…and designing/implementing a nutritional treatment plan [1].”

Finally, therapeutic intervention from a psychologist/counselor is important to ensure that the deeper issues behind the eating disorder are being processed. They can assist in initial diagnosis as well as any psychological work that the patient or family needs to do to move beyond the disorder.

The Importance of Eating Disorder Treatment Teams

Most eating disorder facilities and organizations tout the necessity for a combined treatment approach in eating disorder treatment and recovery.

Treatment TeamA 2015 study found that “an interdisciplinary team has more therapeutic utility than counseling alone,” citing that these clients participated in treatment longer and “were more likely to utilize both individual and group treatment modalities as well as psychotropic medication [2].”

Eating disorders are multi-faceted illnesses, impacting thoughts, behaviors, and physical and emotional feelings. In order to most successfully combat these illnesses, the treatment must be multi-faceted, as well. Fighting the eating disorder from all sides can help in reclaiming power over your body and your mind and bring you closer to full recovery.


Image of Margot Rittenhouse.About the Author: Margot Rittenhouse is a therapist who is passionate about providing mental health support to all in need and has worked with clients with substance abuse issues, eating disorders, domestic violence victims and offenders, and severely mentally ill youth. As a freelance writer for Eating Disorder and Addiction Hope and a mentor with MentorConnect, Margot is a passionate eating disorder advocate, committed to de-stigmatizing these illnesses while showing support for those struggling through mentoring, writing, and volunteering. Margot has a Master’s of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Johns Hopkins University.


[1] Luzier, J. L., Sondike, S. B. , Linton, J. C., Mizes, J. S. Interdisciplinary treatment of adolescent eating disorders in west virginia. The Art, Science, and Ethics of Prevention, Volume 108
[2] Mitchell, S. L., Klein, J., Maduramente, A. (2015). Assessing the impact of an eating disorders treatment approach with college students. Eating Disorders, 23:1, 45-59.

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 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 May 29, 2017.
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on
May 25, 2017.
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com