Types of Eating Disorder Treatments: What to Know

If you're suffering from an eating disorder, it's important to get the right treatment for you. Read on to find out about the top eating disorder treatments.

Unfortunately, eating disorders are common. According to the NCS-R, approximately one-third of those with anorexia nervosa and over 43% with bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder have looked for treatment options. So you’re not alone in seeking eating disorder treatments. 

Keep reading to learn about levels of care in eating disorder therapy and where to start.

Inpatient Treatment 

Inpatient is an intensive treatment administered in a hospital or specialized medical facility. Recovery may begin with an inpatient stay if a patient is medically or psychiatrically unstable. Goals set by an inpatient team may involve:

  • Re-feeding (sometimes through a tube)
  • Stabilization
  • Developing a plan for ongoing treatment


An eating disorder residential treatment is a type of inpatient treatment for a recovering person who is medically stable but in need of psychiatric care. Residents undergo individual and group counseling, nutritional education, family therapy, and work with staff to create a meal plan.

Clinicians are there to support residents 24/7 and help with developing coping skills to use outside of the program. 

Outpatient Treatment 

Outpatient treatment is an option for people with eating disorders who cannot enter an inpatient program. The approach to treatment will vary between programs, but patients generally meet at least a few hours per week.

In addition, patients receive individual help with eating disorders and family therapy. 

Partial Hospitalization 

Partial hospitalization is more intensive than regular outpatient visits. Patients typically attend the program for around six hours a day, five to six days a week.

During this process, patients work with counselors, nutrition specialists, and psychiatrists. One to two meals and snacks are provided in a supportive environment.

Mental Health Counseling 

Mental health care help has been part of each of these types of treatments for eating disorders. That’s because eating disorders aren’t just about food or numbers.

Counselors can help you build coping skills like identifying unhelpful thought patterns. Additionally, recognizing problem areas and establishing boundaries in eating disorder recovery

Nutritional Counseling 

Nutrition counseling with a registered dietitian (RD) is integral to treatment. An RD can help you develop a healthier relationship with food. They can also teach valuable skills like meal planning and identifying disordered behaviors. 

When an RD works in conjunction with other care team members, they can help you overcome fears.

Building a Support Network at Home 

Those who haven’t experienced an eating disorder say or do things they don’t realize are triggering. Eating disorder recovery is not always easy, but you don’t have to suffer in silence.

Plan conversations to have with family members or friends. Plan a specific time and place where you feel safe. Share what you’re comfortable with and make expectations clear.

For example, a helpful boundary to set at the start is to avoid remarking on body sizes, food, or numbers (calories, weights, etc.). 

Find What Eating Disorder Treatments Are Right For You 

Eating disorder treatments, from inpatient to outpatient, are designed to meet your needs and help you reach the next step in recovery. Share how you feel with others and let yourself get help. 

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