What is Outpatient Eating Disorder Treatment?

What is Outpatient Eating Disorder Treatment?


Eating Disorders: the Basics

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, about 20 million women and 10 million men in America will experience some iteration of an eating disorder at some point in their lifetimes. Eating disorders are serious–yet treatable–illnesses that affect individuals both physically and mentally. Specialists speculate that various biological, sociocultural, and psychological factors can lead to the development of an eating disorder; the exact origin, however, remains unknown. 


Eating Disorder Side Effects

Eating disorders could lead to potential side effects in an individual’s endocrine, cardiovascular, and gastrointestinal systems. They can also affect someone neurologically or even manifest outwardly, through symptoms such as the growth of fine hair all over the body. 


Questions to Ask a Specialist

If you are suffering from an eating disorder, there are many different potential treatment routes you can take. The National Eating Disorders Association offers a list of questions you may want to ask treatment providers when debating whether or not to choose them for overseeing your treatment. These questions include:

  • How are you licensed?
  • How would you describe your style of treatment?
  • How long have you been treating individuals with eating disorders?
  • What is your experience in treating eating disorders?
  • About how long will the treatment process take?
  • How do you involve my family members and/or friends in my recovery process?
  • How will we know if and when it’s time to conclude my treatment?
  • Which insurance plans do you accept?
  • Do you deal directly with the insurance companies, or does the responsibility fall on me?
  • When is payment for your services due?
  • Do you offer sliding scale payment options?


Levels of Eating Disorder Care

The National Eating Disorders Association also presents different levels of care regarding eating disorder treatment, from least to most intensive.


Outpatient/Intensive Outpatient

  • This treatment route is typically used with patients who do not require daily monitoring and are medically stable
  • Patients are also psychiatrically stable and have their symptoms under enough control that they are able to function under regular vocational, educational, and social situations while simultaneously participating in recovery


Partial Hospital

  • This treatment route also covers individuals who are medically stable, however:
    • Their eating disorder impairs their functioning, though it does not pose an immediate risk
    • They require daily mental and physiologic assessment
  • This treatment may also cover individuals who are psychiatrically stable, however:
    • They are unable to function in regular vocational, educational, or social settings
    • They engage in fasting, purging, binge eating, or limited food intake/other pathogenic weight control techniques on a daily basis



  • This treatment involves patients who are medically stable and do not need any sort of intensive medical intervention, but:
    • They are psychiatrically impaired and are not able to adequately respond to outpatient or partial hospital treatment



  • This treatment involves patients that are medically unstable or psychiatrically unstable. 
  • The former is determined by:
    • The patient has unstable or depressed vital signs
    • They have complications from coexisting medical issues like diabetes
    • Laboratory findings show an acute risk to their health
  • The latter is determined by:
    • Someone being suicidal or being unable to contract for his or her safety
    • Symptoms that are getting progressively worse at a quick rate


Another important aspect of your treatment plan involves what type of psychotherapy you decide to go with. It is important to remember that various types of therapies work differently among individuals, and which type works best for you depends on who you are and what part of your recovery journey you are on at the time.

We are here to help you at Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists. You may contact us via phone (866-525-2766), email, or by filling out our contact form.


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