Eating disorders are complex mental health conditions that require specialized treatment from a team of healthcare professionals. Choosing the right eating disorder treatment team can be a critical step in the recovery process. Your treatment team will ideally comprise (at the very least) a mental health clinician (eg, psychologist), a medical clinician (eg GP or medical specialist such as paediatrician and/or psychiatrist) and a dietitian.
Tips for selecting an eating disorder treatment team
- Eating disorders require specialised knowledge and skills. Look for treatment providers who have experience in treating eating disorders and medical professionals who are experienced in managing the medical complications associated with eating disorders.
- Consider the treatment setting: Eating disorder treatment can take place in a variety of settings, including inpatient (in hospital), outpatient (out of hospital), in public and private settings. Consider the level of care that you need based on the severity of your condition, and choose a treatment setting that is appropriate for your needs. A comprehensive assessment by any member of your treatment team should be able to make recommendations about which level of care is most appropriate.
- Look for a team that offers a holistic approach: Eating disorder treatment should address the physical, emotional, and psychological aspects of the condition. If you have not accessed treatment before, ensure your practitioners are using evidence based practice. These are the interventions that are covered via Medicare.
- Consider the location: Treatment for eating disorders will likely require ongoing appointments and visits and will need to be sustainable. Consider the location of the treatment centre and whether it is convenient for you to travel to on a regular basis. Remember: many places now offer telehealth which makes outpatient treatment more accessible.
How do you choose your eating disorder team?
When seeking treatment for an eating disorder, it is important to be open and honest with your healthcare provider about your concerns and preferences, and to ask questions about their approach to treatment. It is also important to prioritize your own comfort and well-being, and to seek out professionals who make you feel heard, understood, and supported in your journey towards recovery.
For the last 12 months or so, Australia has moved into an exciting new time in offering practitioners with a special interest in eating disorders an opportunity to pursue credentialing. This is a voluntary process that practitioners participate in and it acknowledges that they have achieved a minimum standard of education to provide eating disorder treatment. It does not guarantee experience or a good fit of practitioners for you. However it a great start for assisting in identifying a practitioners that are, at the very least, eating disorder informed. You can find a credential practitioner on this website.