How to Choose an Eating Disorder Therapist

What should you consider when making the decision to seek therapy for an eating disorder like Anorexia or Bulimia?

One of the first things you’ll consider is where to seek treatment. This is often based on finding an eating disorder therapist (or an entire team of dedicated support staff) to assist you in your treatment process.

It is extremely important that your therapist is someone that you trust and who understands the personal experience of your eating disorder.

You need someone who is skilled and experienced; patient and caring and someone who can help you get to your destination — Life free from an eating disorder!

Here are some guidelines to help in your search for an eating disorder therapist:

Choose a therapist who is certified as an eating disorder specialist.
The International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals provides a certification process. You can contact them for a list of therapists with this credential at 1-800-800-8126.

Choose a therapist who has training and experience.
You need someone (or a treatment center) that is experienced working with people with eating disorders. Ask specifically how many people they have treated in the past and how many they are treating now.

Choose a therapist who has received advanced training.
You need someone (or a team) that has advanced training as a therapist or counselor. And probably someone who participates in ongoing training. For example someone who has received a Masters degree or a Ph.D. in counseling or psychology.

Ask your potential treatment center if they set up aftercare upon discharge.
Treatment centers should be willing and able to arrange aftercare for you upon discharge. This may include finding an individual therapist, a dietitian, or an eating disorder support group in your home area.

Determine if the therapist presently works with a physician and/or psychiatrist.
It will be important to have a physician monitor your physical well being and manage any necessary medications during your treatment.

Determine if a registered dietitian is affiliated with the therapist.
Dietary counseling with a dietitian who can help you reestablish a healthy relationship with food is a necessary part of the treatment process for Anorexia and Bulimia.

Inquire about the type of treatment philosophy or model of treatment
that the therapists use in their approach. The Addiction Model and the Recovery Model are the two most recognized approaches to eating disorder treatment. It will be helpful for you to understand each model well enough to make a decision about your level of comfort with each of them.