Eating Disorder Treatment: What you should know

Recently, I created a list of questions to ask when vetting an eating disorder treament program to see what they actually provide. I thought I’d share this with all of you in case you’re looking for a higher level of eating disorder treatment.


Questions to ask the eating disorder treatment program:

  1. Who oversees your eating disorder program? What is their experience with eating disorders?

  2. What does your eating disorder program entail?

    Sometimes treament centers will mix eating disorders with other diagnoses and not provide specialized eating disorder care.

  3. Do you tube feed?

    This let’s you know the severity of the other patients at their program.

  4. Is someone monitoring people during and after meals?

  5. Are the bathrooms and kitchens monitored at night?

    These two questions are important for people who are struggling with purging behaviors.

  6. What approach do your dietitians use when they're providing a meal plan? Is it the exchange system? Calorie based? etc?

    The diabetic exchange system is a way of providing a meal plan for people who struggle with eating disorders because it takes the focus off the belief that there are good and bad foods and it takes the focus off numbers and calories.

  7. What are the limits of your ED program? In other words, when would you refer out?

    This is important to know because if you’re struggling with purging multiple times per day or intense restriction, you’d want to know if this particular program can support you in the ways you need.

  8. How does your eating disorder program differ from your addiction program?

    Although there are similarities between eating disorders and other behavioral challenges, it is important to receive help specific to your needs.

  9. What philosophies do you draw your eating disorder program from? In other words, are you familiar with Jenni Schaeffer, Carolyn Costin, Geneen Roth & Anita Johnston?

    These are some of the top people in our field who provide solid recovery concepts from eating disorders.

  10. Do you bring your clients to OA? EDA? Any other food based 12 step groups? What are your thoughts about 12 steps for eating disorders?

    Eating Disorders in Recovery Anonymous (EDA) is the only 12-step group that I know of that does NOT dictate restriction of any type of food. We believe that a meal plan should be left to a dietician who specializes in eating disorders and some 12-step groups for eating disorders provide meal plans that can be restrictive and triggering.

  11. How do you work with compulsive over eaters?

  12. Do you provide a weight loss program?

    These two are key questions because although many people in our society desire weight loss, an eating disorder program that dictates diets or meal plans with purposeful weight loss can be very restrictive and triggering. Many people looking for support with eating disorders started with dieting and found themselves in an unmanageable behavior pattern. When looking for a program to help with eating disorders, it is important that they not provide a purposeful weight loss program.

  13. What sets you apart from other treatment centers who provide Intensive Out Patient (IOP), Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) and Residential?

If you have questions about this post or you’d like to discuss further, please contact us for more information.


Here, at Spilove Psychotherapy, we have an anti-diet mentality. We work with clients to incorporate all foods into their lives and to let go of body shame and obsession with intentional weight loss. We don't believe in restricting any foods and collaborate closely with dietitians and other medical providers who specialize in eating disorders.

Click here to schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation with a therapist who works in our West Chester, Bryn Mawr or Philadelphia offices.