Outpatient Eating Disorder Treatment
Treating an individual with an eating disorder can be complicated because not every person will require the same type of treatment program.

With eating disorders affecting more than three million people in the United States alone, this is a serious problem that can lead to many health issues if the individual does not seek the right type of treatment. Outpatient programs can offer many benefits to those with an eating disorder. By receiving treatment, people with these disorders will drastically reduce their chances of dying as a result of complication from this mental health disease.

Without treatment, more than 20 percent of people with the disorder will die. When treatment is received, this number is reduced to two to three percent. This clearly shows that treatment is beneficial.

Advantage of Outpatient Treatment

There are four different types of treatment available for people with eating disorders and outpatient treatment is one of the more common methods. More than 70 percent of people with the disorder will seek outpatient treatment. One of the main advantages of an outpatient program is that there is a lot of flexibility and it is easy to alter the treatment plan for each person. There are many other benefits to receiving outpatient care:

  • This form of treatment is usually less expensive than inpatient or residential.
  • People will be able to return to their homes after their day at the program.
  • Outpatient care is one of the best options for those receiving initial treatment. It is a great basis for other programs.
  • Outpatient services can include individual, group and family therapy, support groups, nutritional counseling and psychiatric evaluations.
  • This is one of the better choices for individuals who have children at home. They will be able to receive treatment during the day and return home at night to care for their children and family.
  • More than 80 percent of people who seek outpatient treatment will successfully recover from their disorder.
  • Outpatient treatment can take longer than inpatient, but the benefits are worth the time investment.

What Is Outpatient Care?

When a person has an eating disorder, any type of treatment is better than none. With intensive outpatient programs, individuals will begin their treatment when they are ready to support themselves. In order for someone to benefit from an outpatient treatment, they must demonstrate that they have control over their eating disorder and the ability to live at home in an unsupervised environment. These treatment programs are designed for individuals who are medically stable and do not exhibit any psychiatric symptoms. This is not the right form of treatment for every person who has an eating disorder. In fact, very few people who have compulsive eating disorders will ever benefit from an outpatient program. Only 10 percent of these individuals will even qualify for outpatient treatment because of the nature of their disorder.

  • Outpatient programs are the least restrictive forms of treatment for eating disorders.
  • Individuals will have weight goals they must meet on a regular basis.
  • The outpatient services will be combined with therapy and nutritional counseling.

When people do opt for outpatient treatment, the effects of the treatment are highly successful. There are different types of psychotherapies that are used with outpatient treatment that have been effective in more than 90 percent of individuals receiving treatment. The types of therapies that will benefit those in an outpatient program include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Interpersonal therapy
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Family therapy

It is important to have regular meetings with a dietician while in outpatient treatment. The dietician can help the person develop healthy eating habits and a diet that is specific to the needs of the individual. More than 95 percent of all people in treatment for an eating disorder will have weekly meetings with a dietician. In addition to providing new eating regimes and diets, dieticians are a great means of support for people struggling with an eating disorder. It is also important for people receiving outpatient treatment to be monitored medically while in the program. Since there are health risks associated with eating disorders, the physical well-being of each person is essential. Receiving outpatient support can be effective for people with a mild to moderate disorder. However, for those with food addictions, this may not be the right choice of treatment. More than 80 percent of people with anorexia have benefitted from outpatient care and 75 percent of those with bulimia have been successful in their treatment.