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If you or someone you love is searching for help for an eating disorder, it may be complicated knowing where to start. Given the complexities of eating disorders, seeking out therapists who specialize in treating them is essential.
When searching for an eating disorder treatment professional, it is important to remember that you must feel comfortable with whatever therapist or eating disorder specialist you choose. Take the time to find the right one for you since you’ll work closely with this specialist.
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Eating Disorder Specialists Available for Speaking Engagements
Experts in the field of eating disorder recovery are available for speaking engagements. These professional speakers are leaders in eating disorders who provide informative and engaging presentations.
You can find engaging speakers for your event here! This can be useful for colleges, schools, conferences, and other gatherings where eating disorder information is needed. Find a certified eating disorder specialist or mental health professional to discuss treatment for binge eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and other eating disorders.
Types of Eating Disorder Specialists
As the National Eating Disorders Collaboration points out, the most important member of a treatment team is the person with an eating disorder.  This person’s thoughts, feelings, and needs should be at the center of every decision.
But surrounding that person is a group of professionals ready to provide eating disorder counseling and care.
Professionals who specialize in the treatment of eating disorders include the following:
- Eating disorder therapist: An eating disorder therapist facilitates therapy sessions and may practice various forms of psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), family-based therapy (FBT), and more. An eating disorder therapist may also treat co-occurring disorders like depression and anxiety. These people may have titles like psychologist, therapist, counselor, or psychotherapist.
- Medical practitioner: A pediatrician, physician, or family doctor can provide medical care for the complications caused by the eating disorder. Issues such as heart disease, diabetes, electrolyte imbalances, and thinning bones are all best treated by a medical expert.
- Nurse: Some nurses, including mental health nurses and nurse practitioners, can prescribe medications and develop treatment plans. They could address the physical component of an eating disorder and collaborate with other therapists specializing in eating disorders.
- Psychiatrists: This form of eating disorder therapist can assess the eating disorder, create a treatment plan, and offer treatment for the condition. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication, which might be helpful for people with underlying mental health issues.
- Registered dietitians: These professionals specialize in nutrition rehabilitation and work with individuals to create and maintain a balanced meal plan. A registered dietitian would also oversee nutrition therapy for men and women recovering from eating disorders.
- Social worker: This eating disorder specialist focuses on a person’s family, community, and relationships. Strengthening ties through counseling and advocacy could help people to build a stronger life in recovery.
What to Look for in an Eating Disorder Specialist
An eating disorder specialist will be an integral part of your recovery. There are several aspects you may want to consider and keep in mind when searching for the professionals you want to guide you through your healing journey.
The following are key components to look for in an eating disorder therapist or specialist or questions to ask when searching:
- Does the eating disorder counselor or therapist primarily treat clients/patients with eating disorders? What is the experience with eating disorders?
- Are co-occurring conditions (e.g., substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder) also addressed and simultaneously treated if necessary?
- Is the eating disorder specialist accredited? Degree accreditations for eating disorders therapists and counselors may include an LCPC (licensed clinical professional counselor) or LCSW (licensed clinical social worker). Psychiatrists and physicians should hold medical degrees.
- Is the eating disorder specialist a member of prominent eating disorder organizations, such as the Academy of Eating Disorders or the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals?
- What is the approach used in therapy?
- Does the specialist already work with a team of other professionals, such as eating disorder psychiatrists or dietitians?
- Does the specialist have a long-term treatment plan to help you get and stay well?
Putting Together a Treatment Team
Since eating disorders are multifaceted and involve varying complexities, such as nutritional imbalances, medical complications, and psychological issues, it is critical to have a team of professionals that can address each of these concerns. Integrating treatments across disciplines yields the best results for eating disorder recovery.
To establish a treatment team for your recovery, start with a primary care physician or licensed eating disorder therapist. These professionals, who are knowledgeable about treating eating disorders, can assess individual needs and refer to other health professionals, such as registered dietitians or psychiatrists.
Each specialist will collaborate, working toward the central goal of healing and recovery from the eating disorder.
Establishing a Treatment Plan
Once you have established your eating disorder treatment team, it is helpful to devise a treatment and long-term recovery plan. Your treatment team, which will most likely include a family doctor, nutritionist, eating disorder therapist, and psychiatrist, will work together to develop an individualized plan to meet your needs.
Components of your treatment plan may include types of:
All of this will help you uncover why eating disorder behaviors occurred in the first place and how to reframe your thinking toward food.
Most eating disorder therapists will include family therapy sessions to treat eating disorders and other forms of individual and group therapy.
Your treatment team may ultimately recommend that you seek higher levels of care at residential or inpatient eating disorder centers before continuing outpatient treatment.
1. The Care Team. (n.d.). National Eating Disorders Collaboration. Accessed September 2022.
Last updated on January 4, 2023.