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Types of Counseling Available for Eating Disorders

written by: Nichole Bolton • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 11/25/2010

There are a number of eating disorders that affect people all over the world. This includes anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder. Finding the treatment option that works best for each person is the first step to life-long eating disorder recovery.

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    Millions of people all over the world struggle with eating disorders. Anorexia and bulimia are the most commonly known disorders, but there are other eating disorders that also require therapy to recover from. Eating disorders counseling comes in a few different forms - individual therapy, support groups and in-patient care. Depending on the severity of one's disorder, different types of counseling will work better than others.

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    Individual Counseling

    Eating disorders counseling is available on a one-on-one basis. This type of treatment usually has a wait list, but it can be very beneficial in the long-run. Individual counseling involves meeting with a counsellor trained in eating disorders, and may also include meeting with a nutritionist to develop a healthy eating plan for recovery.

    Individual counseling supplies patients with an opportunity to discuss not only their eating habits, but also other mental illnesses that they may be struggling with. This option can be helpful in providing treatment for a number of different disorders.

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    Support Groups

    Support groups for eating disorders tend to be the fastest type of program to get into. Eating disorder groups may be available through treatment centers and hospitals, or there are free programs such as Eating Disorders Anonymous. Support groups can be found by contacting local eating disorder treatment centers or looking in a phone book. Some resources for recovery groups can be found online.

    Support groups may be included in an out-patient program in addition to individual counseling. This may be the most intensive and helpful option available without going into an in-patient program.

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    In-Patient Programs

    Some people with eating disorders have such great difficulty trying to recover at home that they require an in-patient program to be successful. In-patient recovery programs usually have a wait list that may be more than a year long. These programs can last anywhere from two months to a year. Treatment centers for eating disorders usually have a very structured program, including individual and group counseling, plus additional therapy - such as art or music therapy - to help patients heal and recover from the mental illnesses that usually accompany eating disorders.

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    Different people respond well to different forms of eating disorders counseling. Someone with disordered eating should try out the different types of therapy listed above to find what works for them. It usually helps to get a referral to individual or in-patient treatment, and then attend support groups while waiting for acceptance to the more structured therapy.

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    Resources to Find Eating Disorders Counseling

    Below are some additional resources to find eating disorder treatment:

    Something Fishy:Treatment Finder (http://www.something-fishy.org/treatmentfinder/)

    Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center (http://www.edreferral.com/)

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    References

    Something Fishy: Types of Treatment - http://www.something-fishy.org/reach/treatmenttypes.php#12step

    HelpGuide.org: Eating Disorder Treatment and Recovery - http://www.helpguide.org/mental/eating_disorder_treatment.htm

    National Institute of Mental Health: Eating Disorders - http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/eating-disorders/complete-index.shtml